Twice I checked my pockets but still when I arrive at the hotel I find I have forgotten the note. It says "do NOT forget to buy granola bars" in three lines of sputtering blue biro, female. My watch says "5:02" "5 02" "5:02" "5 02". The plastic card in my pocket has no room number on it. I am staying in room number 307 on the third floor. The television in my room is a silent winter, they told me, because the replacement hasn't come in the mail. At least today I am faster than the postal workers. I relax in dim evening lighting and read my stream studies book and watch the snow.
For some it is a rare luxury to relax at the edge of a stream. Perhaps you have brought snacks in a backpack or a friend. Usually it is green with a light breeze and a pleasant day and always cold water. Be careful, the rocks are slippery because of the algae that grows on them. You might find the largest rock and lay atop or recline under it. The light of the afternoon is dancing in patches of warmth and shade, like the painters discovered. It is never quiet in the forest, unless there is snow and a frozen day. Usually it is gray and the trees lean and stare and you stamp your feet for warmth, calling up the wisps of yellow that danced yesterday. Walking from shade into sunlight is an unforgettable experience, even in winter.
My stream studies book is lying across my chest and the snow has stopped. Quickly all that remains of the dream is the taste of a blue sky. I pull the covers across my body and shiver while my body warms the sheets from below this time. After ten minutes of not sleeping my watch says "8:05". I remember the pancakes at the place across the street and their dinners are even better. She sits down across from me while I am still wiping my mouth and arranging my silverware to seem carelessly placed upon the plate post consumption. Slowly I am cut off from every stream, cool veins emptying to moist stinging air, choking, drying out and vanishing. Her eyes are a submersion in liquid vitality and the bubble from her smiling mouth pops "hello". I am still wiping my mouth and she pushes a folded note across the table. My insides sharpen in sudden icy needles. I open the paper but all it has are numbers. I leave the right amount of money tucked under the plate.
It feels like a long day. My hands are cold and ashen and they warm against the keyboard of my laptop, but their color does not improve. People are talking about the weather down the hallway. I remember a windy gray morning that I have carried to this room. Something in the air vents whines quietly and in tiny high frequency bursts. This room is hard and cold and full of cheap furniture. A fake giant fern hides a paper crane nestled up in its higher fronds. I folded that crane months ago or perhaps years, when paper was rare in the printer. Now there is a full tray and an unopened ream. The whiteboard markers have come to rest in every corner but one stands at attention on the table, surveying the geometric, plainly and stochastically triangled carpet. It displays its brand in proud bold letters. I have somewhere to be in thirteen minutes. This marker might sit here for days without moving, in ultimate meditation---ink sitting heavy in its stomach, noxious vapor buzzing atomically within its cap. If it's not peace to be a marker in a dark room, I don't know what is.