A short story by Kaci McComis, Sophomore English Education Major
I took my room key out of my pocket and unlocked the door to my hotel room. A sigh of relief was pulled out of my body as I paused in the small living room to collect myself. I was home. I was home earlier than I wanted to be, but it felt weirdly okay to be back in room 516. After being a hundred years in the future at a luxury hotel resort, one would think that I would want to stay there forever– a “vacation in one location” as the slogan says.
That’s not the case at all.
I plopped myself on the couch and felt my body grow eager to be in my bed instead. My phone vibrated in the waistband of my leggings. It was a text from Benjamin. The fifteenth text he sent within the past half hour, which would normally be a red flag for a boyfriend, but not when he doesn’t even know what year you’re currently in thanks to a time travel glitch that abruptly sent us home. I texted Benjamin telling him I was back in my room. He called me immediately.
“Hello? Elsie?” Benjamin said when I answered the phone. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I yawned. “It was just a long night.” I adjusted myself to lay down more comfortably on the couch. All I wanted to do was go to sleep. Maybe it was a good thing that the time travel glitch happened. The thought of carrying on with things at the Fantasia Resort exhausted me even more.
“What happened?” Benjamin asked.
“The time travel glitch hit us really hard and we were sent back,” I replied.
“Is everyone on your team okay?”
“Yeah we’re fine. I wish I could have replied sooner, but afterwards Coach kept me, Penelope, Rachel, and Lucie behind to have a little chat.”
“What did your coach say?”
“Theresa told us that she was going to purge herself if we had continued on with the rest of the mission. She was so physically and emotionally exhausted that she simply couldn’t handle it anymore. She also told us not to tell anyone because she didn’t want the rest of the team to know,” I said. “You know, when Penelope and Lola were fighting with each other all night, when the team cornered me and
threatened to purge me, when Mara and Jade threw hissy fits because they simply did not want to go through with the things we had to do. Oh, and we can’t forget when we killed Sean! We planned and successfully executed a murder scheme, Ben! So, I guess I can’t really blame Theresa for feeling that way,” I ranted. I heard
Benjamin breathe heavily on the other end.
“Yeah, wow. I’m surprised we didn’t kill each other, honestly.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re all still alive, even if you all had a rough night with each other. I’m shocked that you guys were acting like that as a team. From what I hear from you, as a team, you all get along pretty well,” Benjamin said.
“You’re right, I mean, when we visited Purgatory last year there was a little conflict, but it was resolved as soon as we got back. I think this time around, it’s just a lot more than we have ever done before— the stakes are higher. But Ben, we’re here for a synchronized skating competition, not a time travel mission to save the afterlife. Going back tomorrow is the biggest pain in the butt for us.”
“I understand. But what you’re doing is important. You guys are doing something that no one else on the living Earth can do. The world may not realize it now, but they will appreciate it when they aren’t sent to Hell in the afterlife. Every time someone of the selected list of beliefs dies, they are being sent to the lobby of
Hell until your team rescues the last person sent to the Fantasia.”
“I know,” I yawned. I hate being reminded of how the fate of everyone rests on a group of teenage-girls and their stubborn coach.
“You sound tired,” Benjamin said. “Go to bed, Elsie. We will talk tomorrow when I give you the instructions to go back to the Fantasia Resort. Good night, love.”
“Night. Thanks for your help,”
“No, thank you. Get some rest,” Benjamin hung up the phone. I sat up from the couch and walked to the bedroom. My parents were still downstairs mingling with the other parents and my brothers were still hanging out with Rachel’s younger brother. I changed into my pajamas and got ready for bed. I set my alarm for 8:30 in
the morning and set my phone on the charger. I don’t think I have fallen asleep faster in my life. Tomorrow night will be a tomorrow problem.
“So, Elsie,” Penelope started. We had just got back from our quick dinner at the Chipotle across the street from our hotel. “I never got to ask you; what did you think of the conversation we had with Coach Theresa last night?” she asked as we walked through the busy lobby. I sighed at the question.
“Well, I can say that it was a lot to take in for sure. After all that had happened, I had no clue she would tell us that she wanted to purge herself if we didn’t get sent back. I can’t say that it came out of nowhere though,” I answered.
“Really? You think?”
“Uh, yeah. Penelope, you were there for most of it. We have never acted like that as a team before. It probably threw her off.”
“I mean, I guess yeah. I just don’t know why out of everyone she dumped it all on us,” Penelope said. She pressed the up button at the elevator.
“I think she thinks she can trust us the most. That could be a stretch though because I know that Lucie may not be the best person to share that information with because she probably told–”
“Hey!” Coach Theresa screamed at us while I was talking. Penelope and I were about to walk into the hotel elevator to go up to our rooms. I held the door open for Theresa.
“Now what?” Penelope asked. Theresa sighed.
“Remember, don’t tell anybody about what happened last night. You all were good about it today, but now that we’re back at the hotel, I wanted to remind you two. I already told Rachel and Lucie after practice.”
“No need to worry,” Penelope said.
“Yeah, I wasn’t planning on telling anybody. I promise,” I replied. The elevator landed on the fifth floor. The three of us walked to our hotel rooms to prepare for the evening.
I changed my clothes and adjusted my hair. My leggings and Lululemon jacket were much more appropriate for the rest of the night. I wiped off my makeup from earlier. Right as my makeup wipe fell into the trash can, there was a knock on the door. I set my phone on the charger and ran to the door of my hotel room. It
“What’s up?” I asked. Her arms were crossed and a curious look painted her face.
“Last night. What happened after we got back?”
“What do you mean, Lola?”
“Are you stupid? You know, when Coach Theresa pulled you, Rachel, Penelope, and Lucie back to the conference room last night,” Lola answered.
“Oh right, that,” I rolled my eyes.
“Yes, that. You never told me what happened.” I cracked the door and walked out into the hall.
“I was supposed to tell you?” I mumbled.
“That’s why I called you last night. I couldn’t talk to you about it today, so I’m catching you now.”
“You could have texted me, you know,” I shrugged. It would have been easier for me to lie through a text message.
“I didn’t want to,” Lola said. She avoided eye contact and leaned up against the half wall that exposed the rest of the hotel. Lola’s behavior was starting to make me uncomfortable. No one needed to know what happened last night. “So tell me,” she said again. “What did Theresa say to you last night?”
“She just asked us how we felt going into practice today and competing this weekend,” I lied.
“Just how we were feeling going into it and if we were feeling comfortable about competing this weekend. She asked if we felt prepared and if the changes we made a few practices ago were still working out for us. It wasn’t that interesting, Lola.”
“Well I wanna know why I wasn’t invited.” I clenched my fists at my sides. Lola was pushing harder and harder for information that wasn’t hers.
“I don’t know. I really couldn’t tell you. I guess she just wanted to hear from me, Lucie, Rachel, and Penelope. We had some pretty tough changes in the program when we fixed things, so she asked how those changes were going for us. We were also the four closest to her when we were walking back from the conference room last night. That might also have something to do with it.”
“Hm,” Lola tilted her head in a suspicious manner. She was too stubborn for her own good. “Look, I’m sorry I can’t give you the answers you want to hear, but that was literally all it was. We stood in the quiet of the conference room and had a chat about how we were feeling about this weekend.” I started to believe my own
fabrication of last night’s events. Lola wasn’t supposed to hear what really happened. No one was.
“I don’t believe you,” Lola said.
“Okay well, ask the others. They’ll tell you the same thing.”
“I’ve tried. I called Penelope last night too and she ignored me. And I obviously didn’t get a chance to talk to Rachel and Lucie today. I want to hear it from you.”
“Lola, the talk lasted maybe five minutes. You didn’t miss out on anything.”
“Elsie, if the talk lasted five minutes, you would have answered my call.”
“You know my phone is on silent literally all the time, right? My calls are muted unless it’s Benjamin or my parents. I barely checked my phone last night because all I wanted to do was go to bed.” Lola dropped her shoulders and let out an annoyed sigh.
“Fine. I guess I’ll never get the answer then,” Lola said as she walked back towards the elevator.
“I gave you the answer, Lola! You just can’t mind your own business.”
“If Theresa talked about competing, it would have been everyone’s business.”
“Your spot and a few others had no major changes in the program. I don’t think she needed your feedback.”
“Oh, so now you’re saying that my thoughts on the program don’t matter?”
“Uh, no. I didn’t say that. Don’t twist my words, Lola. I said that me, Penelope, Rachel, and Lucie were asked for our feedback. It was Theresa’s conversation, not ours. Sorry I couldn’t find a way to include you in something you didn’t need to be apart of.”
“Whatever. I’ll see you later, I guess.” Lola said. She gave me a glare then walked into the elevator to go back to her room. I shook my head and went back into my hotel room. Great. Tonight and the rest of the weekend will be so much fun now that I’m on Lola’s shit list. I checked my phone. A missed call from Coach just
now. I immediately called her back.
“Are you in your room right now?” Theresa answered on the first ring.
“Well, first things first, I overheard your talk with Lola when I was walking to Savannah’s room to get something from her mom.” My stomach sank. Of course she overheard us.
“Oh really?” I laughed through the phone.
“Yeah. And it’s not funny.”
“I know. I’m sure you’re okay with the lie I made up about last night.”
“No it’s okay. I’m really glad you did. Thank you for covering up for me, even if she doesn’t believe it.”
“You’re welcome. I knew it was important to you, and you literally told us earlier not to tell anyone, so I didn’t want to throw that away.”
“I’m just more shocked to hear Lola talk to you like that, or anyone for that matter.”
“Well, it’s not the first time she’s done that to me.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t tell you why. I just do something and she is somehow irritated by me living my life, I guess. I’ve gotten used to it because she’ll usually get over it fast. But recently she hasn’t been getting over it fast, so...”
“Elise, why haven’t you told me about this?”
“Because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Kinda like how I didn’t want to make a big deal out of last night.”
“Well,” Theresa sighed. “I’ll keep my eye out for it. None of you should be talking to each other like that.”
“I’m afraid for the rest of the night since she obviously won’t want anything to do with me.”
“Lola has no choice about what happens the rest of the night and even tomorrow and Sunday.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” I replied. I can’t believe I just told my coach all of this. I can’t believe I just told OUR coach about this. “Anyways, did you have anything else to tell me? Where are you now?” I asked Theresa in an attempt to change the subject.
“I’m outside your room,” she replied. I hung up the phone and ran to the door and opened it. Without saying a word Theresa immediately walked in and sat down on the couch.
“Okay, so now what’s up?” I asked as I took a seat next to her.
“I need to tell you what happened last night.” I turned my head at her comment.
“But I was there last night. You told us everything.”
“No, I didn’t.”