But right now I'm going to devote to this.
up in a rented bed. The morning light barely illuminated the room. The spring mattress poked Jane's spine and she shifted uncomfortably. She lay on her side for a moment, listening to the occasional car pass on the highway. She could faintly hear the white noise of the ocean too, roaring just a little further beyond.
Jane sighed deeply.
She considered cowering under her pillow until sleep took her again. The weather promised rain but kept coming short, another disappointment that made it harder to stay in bed and cast off the remaining daylight hours.
She let a hand fall to the wooden floorboards. She looked at how covered in dust the floor was, how this place had been kept in such disrepair, as if it was just some abandoned shack out in the middle of nowhere. Which it pretty much was, technically.
She traced her finger in the dust, sketching a rough image of the rented cottage, of the seashore right beyond the highway. She stared at her work for a moment, and then sluggishly ran her hand across it all, wiping it clean.
It had been Warren's idea. This whole stupid romantic getaway thing. He had somehow believed that they could drive far away from the toxic cloud that enveloped their apartment every day - that feeling that permeated everything, pushed every detail into a harsh light.
She remembered how raw it felt these past few weeks. Warren would carry his face wearily into the front door - a vague mask. It became difficult to read, to understand what it would shift into. At times it was baboon-like, an angry brow and a mouth shaped into an O. At times it was more like a Moai - expressionless and businesslike, diminishing her presence with it's faraway gaze.
The worst was when it would turn into something resembling a weary dog. All jowls and jaundiced eye.
Jane knew exactly what this expression meant, and what would follow. Warren assumed so much about her, expected her to act her part every time. It made it so much harder when she found herself falling so easily into that role.
She was the perpetrator of a million different crimes against him; against an ill-defined set of rules that he himself had written. At times Jane preferred the angrier mask. At least the sound and fury would eventually subside, not stick blackly against her ribcage like an oil spill tarnishing the feathers of a hundred thousand seabirds.
That shit didn't just wash off.
In the rear-view mirror Jane watched it trail behind the car like an ashy pairing of morbid wedding streamers. This was their own special Dia de los Muertos. They careened over coastal cliffs, grinning madly all the way, teeth clattering and eye sockets as empty and hollow as -
No - that wasn't fair.
It was nice, the drive up. The weather of early Spring was surprisingly clear and beautiful most of the way. They were in good spirits. Warren was in a talkative mood for once, as he told her about his desire to take her to Europe during the fall. They joked about shacking up permanently in rural France, having children and living a life so outside their own that they wouldn't recognize themselves anymore.
Yet it still dripped stickily in the dark recesses of her mind.
And his mind too, if last night was anything to go by.
Where did it all even start? Jane can't remember what sparked it this time. All she remembers is his face, shifting into another mask. This one was the least recognizable, and it frightened her.
He began to leave and when she asked if he'd be back, he turned around at the door and looked at her. A solemn mask, but one with lines of fear etched into the face.
"I don't know, Jane." He said quietly, "I don't know."
Their faces held like that forever, the old fishwife tales were true. Both stuck in a reflection of the other. Jane had felt like maybe sobbing but then she thought that might seem melodramatic.
Or even worse, she worried that Warren would think it manipulative.
And so instead they just wore those awkward masks, until Warren turned his back and walked out into the cool night air. At the time Jane was more irritated about how he left the door slightly ajar behind him, and maybe that spoke deeply about their relationship.
Or maybe it didn't really mean anything. This is what frustrated Jane the most. A constant confusion of emotions.
She pushed herself onto one elbow and pried open the window. She stared outward, and her eyes coolly reflected the grayness of the skies above.
She smelled the saltiness of the sea, but couldn't make it out past the dunes beyond the highway.
It was just one big bluff of shifting sand, and then....nothing.