here

Todd looked at Sylvie. She watched as he stood, then turned. The vibrations quieted.

“Todd, I am here,” Sylvie felt him pull back once more, as though trying to escape her magnetic field. “I thought you wanted this. If you want me, I am here for you. I am here now.”

Todd stopped for a moment, then stepped back. Sylvie pulled her legs back together, “I need the bathroom.”

Todd walked to the window with the other men. “Ah, she’s really hot now, isn’t she?” Jean-Paul nudged Todd, who stared out blankly.

“What now?” Jean-Paul laughed.

Sylvie pulled the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around herself as she hurried into the bathroom and shut the door. She sat down, numb with exhaustion, with frustration, with the sudden realization that she belonged anywhere but here. She was still wet, and reached to remove the egg, then tossed it in the sink. She dried off and exchanged the towel for the dress that was hanging on the back of the door.

It was a lovely dress, Sylvie thought sadly, as she slipped it over her head. Her hair was a mess, and she combed her fingers through it, then opened the door.

Sylvie bent to retrieve her purse from the floor, her wallet, the receipt for the valet. She slid up into her shoes.

“Jean-Paul, thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit.” Sylvie felt her throat thicken as she fought back tears. “I need my phone. I have to go.”

Jean-Paul, seemingly dumbfounded, handed it to her.

Todd continued to stare out the window, as she put the phone into her purse and walked quickly through the door, out into the hall.

Sylvie continued to walk, hit the button for the elevator, and waited for a moment before opening the door to the stairs.

In the lobby, she walked past the desk and through the door. She gave the ticket to the valet and stood on the sidewalk as a cool breeze hit her face.

“Ah yes, ma’am,” the valet drove up a few minutes later. “I have already received a tip.”

“Oh,” Sylvie answered, “well, this is from me.”

She handed the valet her money, all of it, and rolled quickly away before he could count. She stopped at the light, turned right, and drove farther and farther from the hotel. She drove through the city streets on the sunny day, through the roads that led to those smaller state highways, the fields and ponds still alive and shining. She drove to Todd’s house, and showered, made the bed, changed clothes, and packed just the necessities. Sylvie climbed back into her car, and thought, for the first time in a long time, “Where do I want to go?”

In a few hours she was farther away, new meadows, new sky, as the sky turned dark and starry, as the numbness began to fade, as she began to miss him, if just a little–did he miss her at all?–as she began to think about the past several months, as she began to think about tomorrow.

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