STORY: The Stowaway

Betsey is unpacking in a hotel room when she hears a strange noise. She gasps and jumps back as she notices a moving lump underneath her clothes. She watches in silent horror as a little green snake slithers out from inside the suitcase and glides across the bed. It promptly transforms into a handsome man with messy hair and dark circles under his eyes. He yawns as he stretches out his arms and cracks his neck. Betsey’s expression quickly changes from shock to anger.

“What are you doing here?!” she exclaims. “I thought I told you to go away.”

“I stowed away in your suitcase,” the Snake says with a sneaky little smile. “Right between your socks and underwear. They’re very warm, by the way.”

Betsey glares at him.

“I told you to leave me alone, Andrew. I’ve told you that seven million times. Why do you keep showing up here?”

“I can’t just leave you alone,” he says simply. “You need me. What time is it, anyway? I heard you tell the lady at the front desk you’re going down to breakfast soon. I’m definitely coming with you. All that travel has left me starved.”

Betsey shakes her head and stomps her foot.

“I don’t need you! You’re ruining my life!”

“No, I’m helping you fix it. You can’t do it on your own. No one can. I’m here for you because I want to be. Stop resisting me already. I’ve made it clear I have no plans to go away.”

Betsey let’s out a defeated sigh and plops down on the bed across from her not-quite-so-fictional character. She watches Andrew as he stretches out a little bit more before he turns to er and holds out his hand.

“Shall we?” he asks sweetly.

Betsey glances up at him and takes his hand reluctantly. He leads her down to the lobby where breakfast is being served. She watches him load up his plate with food as he sings to himself softly and taps his foot. She can feel her heart ache as he flashes her a little smile and takes a seat at the table nearby. She joins him shortly thereafter.

“This is a nice place,” Andrew says, looking around the room. “Is this what you had in mind when you said you wanted to get a hotel room in Omaha and watch HGTV?”

“I guess that depends on whether you’re the kind of man who prefers to rent a dingy motel by the hour or spend an entire night in style and class.”

“What do you think I am?”

Betsey looks down at the plate in front of him and smiles.

“I think you’re the kind of man who goes for the continental breakfast every single time.”

Andrew grins at her and goes back to eating. They share a comfortable silence for awhile. When the meal is over, they go back up to the room.

“So what are we gonna do today?” Andrew asks.

“Sleep until I have to go see my family.”

Andrew nods.

“Hmm… how long did you say it’s been again?”

“Two years.”

“Do you think they’re going to ask you questions about me?”

“I’m sure one side of my family will.”

“And what are you going to say?”

Betsey looks down at the floor and shrugs.

“It doesn’t matter what I say. Nobody in my life understands or supports this character/relationship. They will judge me no matter what I say. So I guess I will just say nothing.”

“They don’t have to understand, baby. It’s your story and your life. Are you happy with the way your narrative turned out since you decided to include me?”

“You mean since you decided to include you and take over the entire thing?”

Andrew shrugs and winks at me.

“I wanted to be the Muse.”

“You’re a very good Muse. Perhaps too good of a Muse. My feelings for you have grown to become quite… complicated.”

“Likewise,” he says, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “It is a very complicated relationship, isn’t it? Us being a Writer and a Muse.

“Very complicated.”

There is a long pause between them.

“You never answered my question,” says Andrew. “Are you happy with your narrative?”

Betsey looks at him right in the eyes and nods her head.

“Yes,” she says confidently. She puts her hands on his knees and leans in very close to his face. “I am very happy with my narrative. And for the first time in my life, I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. Thank you, darling. You’ve given me more than you will ever know.”

Andrew smiles and puts his hand on her face.

“Does this mean you’ll stop asking me to go away now?”

Betsey nods at him.

“Is that all you want from me?”

“For now.”

“All right. I’ll let you stay as long as you want. But only because you’ve become so helpful that I can’t possibly imagine enduring another year and a half in South Dakota without you.”

“You couldn’t do it if you tried. That much is obvious.”

“Obviously not.”

“May I give you some advice?”

“Of course.”

Andrew’s facial expression becomes very serious.

“Forget those people. All of them. They are nothing. They will never reach you. You have something thy don’t. Something special. Something that can’t be touched. Don’t listen to them. Just keep writing, especially if it’s about me. Definitely do not stop writing about me.”

“Andrew, I don’t think I could stop writing about you if I tried. I’ve been trying to get rid of you for ages now and you’re still showing up every day. I’m definitely very tired of fighting you.”

“Then don’t.”

Andrew stands up and glances over at the bed.

“Soooo…” he says with a smirk. “You wanna watch HGTV now or what?”

“Definitely.”

They hang out together in the hotel room and watch HGTV.

The End

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