Today on the show, we’ll talk about Epigraphs and Copyright, and I’ll go into a little more details.
And now, your read-along section of the show:
Megan, in sweatpants and a hoodie, stood in front of the mirror in her motel room, examining the bruise on her left cheek. The swelling and bluish hue subsided marginally since Wiles, with pure malevolence in his eyes, entered her room and laid the back of his hand across her face. She had pressed the ice against it for so long that the whole side of her face had become numb, like touching something foreign and rubbery. The face of a stranger. But the tears that had been flowing all day, they did not feel foreign at all. Tokens of her powerlessness, she could not seem to stop them from leaking out of her eyes. They were a grim reminder that she no longer (if she ever) had control of the relationship with her roommate.
I can’t be in my own house. I’m exiled.
Now that Wiles knew everything, in time Chris would know everything, too. Such an easily avoidable tragedy; how a night of misguided indiscretion could cause so much trouble. At least before, she could stave off much of the guilt by continuously seeking new things to keep her mind occupied. She did not have that problem now. In this motel room, she had nothing but time to think about what she did and whom she hurt; time to feel ashamed for allowing herself to be placed in a situation where she could be punched in the face; time to think about how her marriage would end in flames; time to think about the two hundred pounds of pot in her basement; time to think about the abusive man living in her house and how she might never be free of him.
She went to the bucket to retrieve more ice to fill her towel, and removed the lid to find only cold water inside. Megan had not left her room in several hours, not even to eat. The room had become safe. Now she would have to brave the outside world for more ice.
She opened the door of her second-story room and stared into the open courtyard below. A man leaned against the rail in front of a room on the end opposite her, smoking a cigarette and staring at the closed pool. A balaclava covered his face, despite the mild temperatures today. This unnerved her. Megan waited to see if he would look up at her, but he did not. She walked to the stairs, and treaded lightly down them, one at a time. She could not see around the bend to the base of the stairs, so she stopped and listened before proceeding.
Megan at least had options. Confronting Wiles seemed an absurd fantasy, so she would not seriously consider it. Telling her husband, another fantasy. The way she saw it, the best option would be to call Walker and start that awful process in motion. Except this time, there would be no Witness Protection for both her and Chris. Whatever (if any) new life they gave her would be solo. Despite being the admitted best one, this option hardly felt like the right way to go.
No sound. She continued on, until she reached the ground level. The ice machine sat across the courtyard, directly underneath the Smoking Man. If she hugged the rail around the pool, he would be able to see her. If she stayed away from the rail, then she would be close to the doors on the ground floor, and any one of those doors could open at any moment.
The other viable option would be to skip town. She could go back to Oklahoma, borrow some money from her parents, and then just get away. Maybe she could go somewhere with her sister. While she recognized that as a poor option, it seemed like the least painful one. No dealing with Chris, or Derek, or Brian, or anyone. Just go, and become someone else: Witness Protection without all of the government interference. But then that little nagging voice inside her head, the one she hated to acknowledge, said he will find you. He knows how to find your parents, and what would he do to them if you disappeared? How far would he go to teach you a lesson?
That miniature voice made this option also unpalatable. No matter what she did, every path had the stink of failure.
Megan opted for the rail. She kept checking Smoking Man out of the corner of her eye, and he did not budge, nor alter his gaze. She reached the ice machine, positioned the bucket and pressed the button to dispense the ice. The machine came to life with a jarring kerrrrn keerrrrrrnnn sound as ice cubes dropped into the bucket, a few at first, and then a rush of ice. Her heart rate escalated as she waited for the bucket to fill. The sound of the machine surely would draw attention.
With no point in remaining stealthy, she raced up the closest stairs, until she reached the top and realized the route she had taken was about to lead her to Smoking Man. He would be just around the bend. Should she go back down? He would have already heard her coming. Seemed the only option would be continue onward. If necessary, she did have a now-heavy bucket in her hands if she needed a weapon.
She took several deep breaths to calm her nerves, and stepped out of the stairwell. The smoking man was not there. Outside of the room where he had been, a thin line of smoke wafted from a coffee mug. The cigarette sputtered inside it. He had gone back inside his room. Megan breathed a sigh of relief, and hurried down the hallway, back into the safety of her room.