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Extended Stay

Story by Ra’Niqua Lee (Read author interview) August 21, 2021

Photograph by DaYsO

Key, as in lock and, renews her accommodations at the Maroon Bay Motel for the twelfth time. She pays the tab in cash, grabs a fistful of complimentary mints, and chews through half out beneath the spaghetti junction skyline, a cold lace of cars, concrete, and steel. A constant reminder that she lives in the greatest city in the world, the new film capital of the South, the Hollywood of Georgia.

Life at the Maroon Bay Motel is like waiting on a quick change, for the Velcro rip away on a blue-collar jumpsuit that reveals the sequins and rhinestones there all along. Key posts up at the second-floor railing in a floral bikini and flipflops, a show of skin and daisies for no one but the maids. Martin, Ginny, and Jean Luc take turns changing the linens. On breaks, they chain smoke on the roof of a Honda. Pigeons bobble at their feet, dart from them to the burger chain across the street, and back again. Martin waves up to Key, calls her mami, so she calls him son and tosses the rest of her mints to the birds.

Key has dated Martin, Ginny, and Jean Luc off and on all year, and she has liked them less each time. Jean Luc still refers to her as pretty chocolate princess. Martin kisses tongue sloppy and never where it counts. Ginny laughed at Key’s favorite movie scene: Lela Rochon on her balcony, waiting for a man who shows up in a leather vest and no shirt, a leather-in-the-summertime man. She catches his orange when he throws it and tosses it right back, hits him, makes him holler. In the end, gorgeous.

The Maroon Bay Motel has few amenities besides the maids, but it does have a pool. Key runs lines for future auditions beside the murky, green water as the mosquito larvae, translucent comma babies, wiggle in the filth. If the sun is high enough, her reflection appears, a shadow of wild hair and skin darker because of the deepness. When she’s sure no one will see, she leans in to herself, dips her hand, invites the larvae to chew away at the melanin and plump. She wants to pull back and see blood, let the momma mosquitos feast, take their fill, leave her divided into parts but no lighter.

_________________________

This micro was a finalist in the 2021 SmokeLong Grand Micro Contest. 

About the Author

Ra’Niqua Lee writes to share her particular visions of love and the South. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City Review, Split Lip Magazine, Fractured Literary, Watershed Review, and elsewhere. Every word is in honor of her little sister, Nesha, who battled schizoaffective disorder until the very end. For her always.

About the Artist

DaYsO is a photographer from Pamplona, Spain.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Two
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.