Andrea Kneeland

Love Hotel

“Oh-tay-ah-rye wa,” she says, “doe-koh dess kah.” She clicks on the link, listens again, repeats. When she takes her headphones off, she can hear the man in the next apartment, still having sex, still loudly, with his hugely pregnant girlfriend. She puts the headphones back on and practices some more. “Oh-tay-ah-rye wa.”

She is going to Japan this year. Her suitcase is already packed, stored just next to her front door. She will attend a sumo tournament. She will visit Tokyo Disney. She will eat ramen every day. She will stay in a love hotel.

She is fascinated by the love hotels. She stops practicing and listens to Rachmaninoff while she browses through room themes: alien abduction; Paleolithic era; Hello Kitty s&m; prison ward; chapel; elementary school; ancient Egypt. She clicks on “boxing ring.”

She was not at all interested in Japan before she met Hyde. Even when she was with Hyde, listening to him talk about Japan incessantly, she was not interested.

She didn’t really like classical music, either.

But after their most recent break-up, which really does seem to be their final break-up, after she threw that plate at his face and it broke against his arm, resulting in twelve stitches, after their screaming match in the hospital room and after he told her that if they stayed together, he would really and truly kill himself. After all that, she started becoming more interested.

She’d thrown away every physical piece of himself that he’d left behind: all of his clothes, his DVDs, his protein drinks, even her own sheets that they had lain on together. But she hadn’t cleared her browser history. It was still filled with 30 second clips of Japanese pornography – mostly girls who looked no older than twelve being caned by masked men in three-piece suits. And a Pandora station filled with Rachmaninoff; Schuman; Liszt; Mozart.

She curls fetal on her side and removes her headphones, puts the laptop on the floor. Her neighbor and his girlfriend continue to scream like crazy people. She wishes she was young and stupid enough to simply obliterate herself, to dress up like a schoolgirl and let men beat her for money, to destroy herself swiftly and decisively.

But she is not young enough anymore; she is almost thirty-five. Her life options are becoming more and more closed off. She sees a great blackness ahead of her, a great tunnel of it, closing away to an ever-narrowing center. She can only destroy herself slowly and deliberately. Obliteration will take forever.

She has never cared about anything. She still doesn’t, but this, right now, is something to do. She imagines checking into a love hotel alone, spreading herself out on the bed, impaling herself with plastic sex objects from the vending machine, Ravel blasting from the hotel speakers, sending videos of herself to Hyde. She imagines how much he hates her, imagines him associating that hate with the things that he loves.

Andrea Kneeland's first book, the Birds & the Beasts, is forthcoming from Cow Heavy Books. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Wonderfort, Camroc Press Review, Gigantic, Barrelhouse, Vinyl Poetry, FRiGG and mud luscious press. She is a web editor for Hobart.

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