I felt roots spring from my feet and begin a slow groping plunge into the concrete floor of the balcony. It felt good. I panicked and jerked my legs into motion before the roots grew too deep. I swept my pack off of the unmade bed as I swept into the room and out the door. Keep your tall trees and red-tinged dusk. I heard the door snap closed behind me, stopped, glowered and growled. I left my coat on the bed, it was 18 degrees outside, and the key card was in the pocket. I turned toward the front desk. A running boy bounced off of me and half the ice in his small brown bucket bounced and rolled across the floor. They reminded me of dice so much I was tempted to yell "Yahtzee!"
By the time I had traversed the thirty steps or so to the front desk I had already considered and discarded half a dozen new destinations. The only thing I was sure of was that wherever I ended up was going to be warmer. Tacoma was nice, seductive even, but right then it was also very cold.
"Sir?" The receptionist broke my reverie. I looked up at her, and my knees went weak. I was looking at my baby. I was looking at my Susan. I had only been roaming the country for about a month, but as long as I was moving, I wasn't hurting, I wasn't remembering. My wife's betrayal, my daughter's tears. Time and distance heal nothing. Suddenly the pain was thick again. My throat constricted and I let out one clipped sob. I hoped it sounded like a cough.
The betrayal by my wife was compounded by my betrayal of our daughter. When I fled from Sarah I abandoned my Susan. My list of destinations abruptly narrowed to one. I looked up to see the receptionist waiting patiently for me. The resemblance was so strong. I resisted the impulse to hug her.
"I'm sorry," I said, "I was daydreaming. May I have a key for room 127? I left my coat in there, and I have to get home."