I was listening to “Home” on the radio last night – turns out it’s originally Michael Bublé but I listen to country – and, not for the first time, it struck me that the narrator sounded a little cursed.
So here we have this.
🛬 ✈️ 🛫
The taxi smelled strongly of mould and smoke and seemed to hit every bump on the way from the airport to the hotel. Blake tipped the driver $20 anyway. It was probably not the lady’s fault, after all.
The hotel was a nice one — they always were — but the building next door was undergoing demolition. The banging followed Blake up the stairs — he’d learned, about elevators — to the tenth floor and into his room.
His next plane tickets and hotel reservations were waiting for him. Only once in all his time had they not been there, and that time didn’t bear thinking about.
He shook out his clothes from his carry-on — after losing checked luggage three times, he’d given up — and hung them in the bathroom, put a laundry bag put for Housekeeping, and sat down at the rickety table.
He picked up the room phone and dialed. 555-908-7857. He’d dialed that number so often he called it in his sleep.
In his dreams, someone picked up. In the good dreams, she picked up.
“The number you have dialed is unavailable. Please hang up.”
Blake hung up. He pulled a tiny bourbon from the hotel minibar — legit Kentucky bourbon, here in… he checked the hotel stationery — Rome. He drank it straight straight from the bottle, finishing it in two swallows, before he considered the hotel stationery again.
He pulled the curtains open to look at the demolition, opened the window, and let the dusty air wash over him.
The hotel-branded ballpoint pen worked. He pulled over a clean sheet of paper and began.
Aug 12, 2011
Rome looks like dust today, but the sky is bright blue, like the river down past Johnson’s where we used to fish.
I want to come home.
I slept well on the plane, despite the crying baby. I feel bad for the kid. It wasn’t her fault.
I want to come home.
All in all, it’s a good day. I hope yours is going well, too.
I miss you,
Why won’t they let me go home?
He folded up the letter carefully, smoothing each crease. He dug the box out of the bottom of his carry-on, a cookie tin he’d bought, sharing the cookies with the pigeons in — he thought it had been Paris, it might have been Versailles — until he had the perfect size for his rubber-banded stack of letters.
He had to push the lid shut over the letters now. It would be time for a second tin, soon.
Just let me come home.
“I want to travel the world.” He tested the words. They sounded dirty, dusty now, now like they had when he was twenty and full of himself. Forget this stupid town.
Who knew the elders of his hometown were quite so temperamental — or quite so magical?
According to his tickets — and they were never wrong — he’d be here for almost three whole days. Blake changed his shirt and headed out for a drink, giving the tin of letters one last pat on the way out.