More than Exist(9)

By: Bethany Lopez

I grabbed my travel bag and pulled out the aspirin, desperate to start working toward relief. I found it and popped the top, then turned on the faucet and cupped my hand to fill it with water.

When the pills were swallowed, and my bladder was relieved, I braved entering the bright bedroom once more.

“Good morning,” Ginger sang out as she sat up and stretched prettily.

Jesus, did she have to be so chipper, and so loud?

“Morning,” I grumbled back.

“I overslept,” she replied happily, not panicked like I would have been if I’d overslept. “So, I’m gonna run, but I’ll meet you back here tonight.”

“Tonight?” I asked as I wrestled with the heavy curtain.

“Yeah, I’ll pack my bag and stay with you tonight, so we can leave early in the morning,” Ginger informed me as she threw on last night’s clothes. “We talked about it last night, remember?”

“Vaguely,” I muttered. Why the hell won’t these curtains close?

“Okay, well, after I’m done at the club I’ll meet you here. We exchanged numbers last night, so if you need me, just find my name in your phone.” She walked over and gave me a quick hug and said, “I had so much fun!” Then she reached behind the curtain and pulled a long rope, pulling the curtains closed and darkening the room.

I breathed a sigh of relief. “You’re a lifesaver.”

“Get some rest,” she replied, her laugh tinkling behind her as she left.

I crawled back into the big bed and snuggled into the pillow.

I was out in seconds.

When I awoke a few hours later, the pills had done their magic and the headache was gone.

I showered and got dressed for the day, then left the safety of my room to go out in search of breakfast. I decided to get out of my casino and go for a walk. The fresh air would do me good, and I could always find another casino to stop in for breakfast.

That’s the thing about Vegas, there’s no shortage of restaurants, casinos, or bars.

I got my car and drove down to the strip, before parking it so I could walk around. It seemed safer than walking around in the neighborhood where my purse had been stolen again, and it was too far to walk from the Stratosphere. Vegas can be deceiving. While it looks like everything is really close together, the blocks are actually really long, so it takes much longer to get from casino to casino than you would think.

Once I was parked in a garage, I set out on foot, stopping to enjoy the fountains along the way. Once I was good and famished, I walked into The Mirage and found the 24-hour café.

I ordered some eggs, bacon, and hash browns, figuring the grease would hit the spot. I also ordered a vodka cranberry, since I was in Vegas and could technically say I was on vacation. Anyways, cranberry juice is a breakfast drink, right?

That first sip of crisp, tart flavor hit my tongue, and I almost felt a calm overcome me as the liquid slid down my tongue. I relaxed back into my chair and looked around, settling in to people watch as I enjoyed my breakfast.

This trip to Vegas was so much different than the ones I took with Ricky. We’d always stay out late, sleep in, then spend the days making love.

I felt a pinch around my heart at the memories, and knocked back my second vodka cranberry, eager to pay my check and leave the memories behind.

After I ate I walked around the casino. When I saw signs for Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, I decided that would be something to check out, so I followed them to the entrance. Once I had my day pass in hand, I entered with a smile, excited to have a day where I could do whatever I wanted.

The white tigers were majestic, and the dolphins fun to watch. I sat down on a bench and watched them swim for a while. Enjoying the peace and serenity of their movements and they glided through the water, occasionally jumping up and around each other, as if in a dance.

Once I’d had my fill of the Secret Garden, I wandered out to the front of the casino, just in time to see the volcano erupt. I watched the spectacle with a smile, then looked down at my phone.

Perfect. I had plenty of time to wander around and play tourist, before I had to be back. It took me a second to understand that I was actually enjoying myself. I hadn’t had a good day in over a year, and I certainly hadn’t taken any sort of vacation since Ricky’s death.

I guess this was part of moving on and starting to have a life again. I started down the sidewalk toward the next casino, eager to see what I’d discover behind the ornate walls, and grab a quick drink before starting my next adventure.

Chapter 6

I woke up to something shaking me and blinked rapidly, trying to adjust my eyes to the still dark room.

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