As the elevator dinged and the doors opened, she hesitated for a moment but only for a moment.
It was just a moment but it was enough.
She stepped out of the elevator and walked left towards her destination. The halls were not extraordinarily long nor was it uselessly short. The walls around her were lit dim by the warm glow radiating from the shell-shaped ceiling lights.
However, the walk this time made the halls grow longer and longer as she hesitated once more.
She was tired,
tired of feeling torn,
tired of not being able to sleep because of the things that she did or said.
She was tired but she knew that she couldn’t stop herself; the internal struggle was too much but still, she was holding on for a little longer. She could not stop herself from coming to this hotel but she has faith that she can stop from hurting the one that she loves. Or at least long enough for him to stop her, once and for all.
She came to an abrupt halt.
Upon reaching this particular floor, she had yet to see another soul in this hotel she knew would be crawling with people either drunk with life or simply just drunk. Most would have exited from the lounge on her right, straddling another while having the night of their lives. At least, that’s what she felt when she was here months ago.
She stared into the darkness that seemed to consume the lounge. She looked at the crumpled paper in her hand. She checked her watch. She was precisely on time but the lounge looked uninhabited. She took a step into darkness and she took another. She felt as though she was walking in her own mind. Something so familiar yet, she felt afraid. The part of her that decided to go to the hotel was, for the first time, afraid.
She took over.
She turned around and hastily made her way to the door. Then, the sound of jazz graced her ears.
She stopped and she was back.
The lights in the lounge slowly came on but it wasn’t too bright. The sweet, heart wrenching sound of jazz breathed just a bit of life back into her. She knew that all she had to do was turn around and so she did.
There he was but not as she expected.
He wore a finely fitted black suit with dark blue lapels instead of the expected black t-shirt, rugged leather jacket and black jeans. He wasn’t dressed to stop her, he looked fit to woo her, which was unnecessary.
“I thought you hated jazz,” she finally said to him.
He smiled, glad to see it was her talking to him first.
“I do but you don’t.” He says as she warily walks towards him.
“I do but I don’t hate it more than I like,” he continues to say, lingering on that last word as she raises an eyebrow.
He smiled playfully and lifted the lid of the box next to him.
She laughed as he offered her a slice. She accepted it and took a bite.
“I think that’s a bit of an understatement. You don’t like pizza. You love it.” She says as she finished her bite.
“You know me all too well but there’s one thing you should know. While I do love pizza, it’s no more than I love you.” He said earnestly to the woman standing in front of him, eating a pepperoni slice.
She paused. A smile slowly crept up her face. She loved him too but she couldn’t. It hurt. He took the half-eaten slice from her hand and put it on the table.
“Can I no longer have pizza because I didn’t say it back?” She asked as she wiped away a tear she didn’t know was there. They both laughed and he gently pulled her in by the elbows.
“You can have pizza. It’ll just be weird dancing with a slice of pizza in your hand.”
“It’s not like we haven’t done it before.”
They laughed again, reminiscing on a not too distant past.
It grew silent, not accounting for the jazz in the background.
“Dance with me.”
He led her slightly away from the pizza and they start to dance. She enjoyed for a bit and then the internal struggle continued. He noticed and he embraced her more, keeping her as close to him, protecting her. They swayed slightly, still dancing. She managed to overpower her dark side but it was weakening her.
“I do love you.” She finally said, worried she might never get a chance to say it one last time.
“More than you love jazz?” He jokingly asked and she laughed in return.
She was sad and happy.
Sad about how her life turned out and how she might never get moments like these again.
Happy that she was back in his arms, and to have this moment with him.
“What do you love about jazz anyways?” He asked even though he knew the answer.
This made her smile; she knew that he knew and she had a feeling she knew what was to come. But she didn’t let herself know, just in case the dark side found out.
“It’s heartbreaking yet soothing. It makes me feel like sleeping but in a good way. In a peaceful way. Like life is great again.”
He didn’t realize it before but he was holding back tears.
“Then, my darling, sleep.” He said as he pushed the dagger through her heart.
He held her dear as she breathed her final moments. Tears rolled down their cheeks. She smiled as she leaned into him as they slowly fell onto the floor. Now she was on his lap, dark blood seeping out from her lips. His hands, stained from holding the dagger that pierced through her tainted heart, caressed her cheek. He was devastated but she was smiling her way to the end. With her last breath, she thanked him. Coming into the hotel, she was hoping for him to put a stop to her but he didn’t just stop her. No, she realized now that he saved her. He saved her from ever hurting another soul but most of all, he saved her from her dark self. She was glad that she got to go being herself, with the visage of him bidding her farewell. And that was her last thought to ferry her into the afterlife.