It’s 2:45 when I peek at the clock. I’ve been watching it for 13 minutes, not really needing to set it anymore because my body is already familiar with this sequence but I still do anyway. I let the soft alarm went off for 3 seconds then I press dismiss. I listen a few more seconds waiting for signs anyone is awake but all I hear is a soft hum from I don’t know where so I move the sheets aside and make my way down, the bed squeaking a bit.
I pick up the red left slipper on the edge of the corner bed then walk to my backpack and put it underneath. There, I think to myself then climb back to my bed.
Tonight is easy, but I still can’t help but feel jittery from my last attempt. I was a bit careless then. When I walked to the white left slipper I didn’t realize somebody was awake. So I simply grabbed it, turned, and began to move back. I stiffened when I saw faint light coming from the bed opposite mine. Two eyes wide open and were looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. And he didn’t say anything too. Did he see what I did, I asked myself. I didn’t complete that attempt. I just let the slipper go then went back to bed. Maybe he thought I was sleep walking. Yes, that’s it – sleep walking.
In the morning breakfast is good. There’s cereal, bread, a good selection of spread and meat, a buffet of fruits, hot chocolate, and papaya juice hmm. I see her, there in the coffee section putting two scoops of cream in her cup. My stomach rumbles. I don’t put cream in my coffee, my stomach hates it. I decide to look away before she even catches me. She didn’t so I let go of the air I have been holding in.
By the time I am satisfied that I can’t take another bite, breakfast is at its peak. I like eating early. I like my quiet so I’m always one of the firsts in there. Almost all tables are occupied now and the air is filled with happy chatters. It’s amazing how these people have all these energy so early in the morning. I’m not a morning person and I bet one or two of these overly cheerful guests say that too if it is an office day.
When I get back after my usual morning walk, she is gone. Her bed is still unmade but all her stuff is gone. I walk over to my backpack, pick it up, and see the red left slipper nicely looking up.
Red left slipper, white left slipper, black left slipper, pink left slipper, yellow left slipper, and so on. I can no longer count how many I have acquired. A dozen, maybe more, I do not know. I don’t bring them with me, that’s crazy and heavy too. I study the red left slipper for a while. It’s bigger than my size. I can easily guess that it’s been used for a year or so already. Sorry, I murmur to the afternoon air.
The next day I have a bunch of new roommates. There is one that came in really early that morning but he is so quiet I didn’t even hear him at all. Then there is this really loud group. For one whole day I waited and waited and waited. The quiet guy gave me a hi when I woke up and found him digging through his stuff. The others gave me a nod when I came back to the room after breakfast. But not him. He never gave me the time in his day.
I am not a needy person. I don’t crave attention or anything like that. But I like watching people, and when I watch I get insane ideas. I met a girl before who told me she doesn’t like party hostels, too old for that she said. So I imagined her in one. Everybody was having a grand time. Everybody was partying every night. Everybody was the center of their own freedom. Except her. Nobody talked to her. She was in the bar, margarita on hand. Ready to mingle but she looked lost in there so she went back to her room deciding not to push it. Day after day she went about discovering the city but her roommates never talked to her even once. They might not even see me at all, she thought. Well that’s just impossible.
The 2:45 alarm went off. This time I have to pull myself from sleep. I am really tired, body aches everywhere, that impromptu hike was awful, I thought. I didn’t want to be bothered but I’ve never missed a mission. I even slipped when I was going down the bed. My ankle throbbed a few seconds from the friction but when it was gone I was very much awake. Walking around the room is easy because the light coming in from the window is perfectly bright or perfectly dim. I see it. Blue left slipper. I grab it and start to turn around but it feels different. And it’s resisting me. What are you doing, says the voice behind me. I almost scream in surprise. Not again! I turn my head around, body still frozen. It’s not him.
I let go of his hand which I realize I mistakenly grabbed in place of the blue left slipper. What are you doing, he says again. My mind is sweating for excuses when it comes to me, shouldn’t I ask him the same? It isn’t his blue left slipper so why is he holding it anyway. That is my blue left slipper, I tell him in a whisper, and what are you doing up now? No this is my blue right slipper, he whispers back waving the thing in my face. I snatch it from his hand and demand that he take the left one instead. But he tells me back. So I tell him back too. Then all of a sudden there is a bright light pointed in his face, or it is my face I’m not too sure. What are you both doing?
In the morning breakfast is good. I see him. He sees me. He walks to my table holding a cup of coffee and a knowing smile plastered on his face. Morning, we say to each other. We break in laughter after that. Had it been someone else who saw me that night it will be a different morning. When our roommate found us I was almost sure that I got caught until he said something about a cockroach. The roommate bought it and we all went back to sleep after both of us silently agreed that our missions are temporarily postponed for the night.
So what were you doing with the blue left slipper, I ask plainly then take a bite on my buttered toast then a tomato. First of all, it was a blue right slipper, he says. Second, let’s just say don’t annoy me or I’ll take one of yours. Wow that’s mean, I tell him. He just shrugs, and what about you – what do you want from the blue left slipper? Not friendly enough, I answer. We didn’t ask anymore from each other after that. It was still a private thing even though we kind of collaborated last night. I am also not ready yet to discuss any sort of mental issues surrounding that topic if there is any. For now I just smile at the thought that there is someone out there like me.