It was sweet relief when I heard the word cash. A place with beds accepting cash, no card required. I knew why. The room proved the theory. We drove the panhandle to avoid Georgia. Donkey was in Georgia. Because the state is not that big when your fear is. Turning North at New Orleans we set Memphis in our sights and made it to Batesville, MS. It was the first exit in a long time. It had hotels. It had this place. The name was Vacancy. The mission was sleep. The value was cash. The lobby was clean; the desk clerk was kind. The room required suspension of disbelief.
With kids in arms we pulled the comforters off the beds and blanketed the open areas on the floor between the door and the first bed and the second bed and the bathroom to cover the dirt, both visible and invisible. Then we put the kids on the beds. Everyone slept in their clothes. Neither kid got a bath; the tub looked as if they would come out dirtier than they went in. Both adults took showers, and then we washed our feet. All teeth brushed, stories read, little eyes shut, big eyes road weary and wide awake. Alarm set, heads down.
It was rest. It was rest I hadn’t felt for half a decade. The sleep was insufficient, but the peace wasn’t. I hadn’t slept in the same bed as my husband for three months, but this night there was no worry he’d try. I listened to the whisper breaths of my babies. I listened to the highway traffic. I listened to the peace. Good night moon. Good night marriage.