Amanda slowly started opening her eyes as the light through the curtains shun through. For a split second, she thought that she was at home in New York, but it quickly dawned on her that she was waking up at the Wisconsin Inn Motel.
For the first time in 23 days, Amanda had a full nights sleep. She felt euphoria rush through her body as she glanced over her shoulder to read the time. 8:00 AM. She reckoned that she had gone to bed around 11 PM, and although she had the still image of Professor Dorfman’s final gasp of air locked in her mind all night, she felt well rested and recovered.
The past nights when she did manage to sleep for a few hours, her dreams replayed the sequence of events in a random order. She would always see his face gasping for air and looking at her in desperation as soon as she would drift into REM sleep, and then her mind would jump between flashing images of Professor Dorfman’s signature pen sticking out of his throat, to the moment she yanked the pen from his neck to ensure there was no chance of his survival after she fled the scene.
Amanda shook her head, she didn’t want to go there again, and she could already feel herself becoming nauseous again. Every time Amanda begun to remember the events of that night, she would begin to feel violently ill. She hoped that one day she could remember what had happened that fateful evening and accept that even though it was the worst mistake she ever made, the alternative to letting Professor Dorfman live had far more serious repercussions.
Amanda knew she had to get ready to face the day, and that she needed to clean up. She stared at herself in the mirror and noted how much more well-rested she looked, but she knew she’d have to clean up to the point where she was presentable, but not so presentable that it would raise unwanted questions. Amanda hopped into the cubicle-sized shower and scrubbed herself viciously with the bar of soap provided. Her hair, still clumped in bird nests, felt like barbwire as she doused it with the heavy-duty conditioner she brought herself. She painfully brushed through her hair until every last tangle was released.
She hopped out of the shower, dried herself, brushed her teeth, and slapped some lip-gloss on and mascara. It was summertime in Wisconsin, so Amanda opted to wear a floral mini skirt and a basic black tank top. She scrutinized herself in the mirror and was pleased with what she achieved: presentable but not suspicious.
Amanda planned to go to the waterpark today and apply for an entry-level job at the towel hire stand. She knew stepping out of her room meant meeting more people and getting asked the same questions, so she rehearsed her new cover story in front of the mirror:
Hi there. I’m Cindy, Cindy Adams, I’m from…actually I really rather not talk about it…I’m here for a fresh start
This was actually rather easy for Amanda to vocalize, as, with the exception of the name, she wouldn’t be lying. She didn’t want to tell people where she was from, and she was in Wisconsin Dells for a fresh start. Amanda imagined people would naturally be curious for more information, and when they persisted, she would say she was on the run from her wife-beating husband and that was as much as she would say about it. People would feel sorry for her…see her as a victim…and that’s exactly what Amanda was craving.
She stepped out of the hotel room, and saw a tall, handsome gentleman across her door smoking a cigarette as he leaned against a wall.
You sure clean up nicely…the man told Amanda this with an innocent smile. He stood up straight and threw his cigarette away in the near ashtray. Before Amanda could respond, he nervously giggled…Sorry; I didn’t mean to alarm you. I promise I’m not stalking you; it’s just that I heard Jo talking to you outside my room and I was curious as to who my new neighbor was. I’m Jeff…Jeff stuck his hand out and gave Amanda a firm handshake…What’s your name? Where are you joining us from? Are you staying here for long?
Amanda took a deep breath and responded to Jeff exactly as she had rehearsed in the mirror…Hi, I’m Cindy….