It was supposed to be my vacation. A long overdue break from demands, deadlines, and stress. But I couldn’t relax. During the mornings, I sat on the sand, watching the waves, my stomach a knot of anxiety. In the afternoons, I wandered through the quaint shops, where tourists tried to scramble over each other for bargains, but I walked away, uninterested. Why couldn’t I enjoy myself?
And at night came the dreams, each one more disturbing than the last. The dark corridor, the semi-open doors with a faint glow of light emanating from inside. But I couldn’t see what was happening. A vague sickly sweet odor. Fabric rustling. Moans… of pleasure or pain? I could not tell. I knew I had to choose a room, and once I made my choice, all others would disappear. But each night I awoke drenched in fear just as I stepped over the threshold of the one I’d chosen.
Except this night, the last one of my stay. I walked resolutely down the shadowed hall, the decaying fragrance stronger than ever. I heard fabric tearing, as if someone were ripping a bedsheet with their bare hands. And then in the deepest, most recessed alcove I found the right door. All my worry melted away as I glided into the light.