MISS RELIABLE by Rocio Carranza

Daniela’s world became very small with John. It was not a gradual realization, but a sudden one, as she woke up alone again on Sunday morning. She looked about the beautiful room they had stayed in; warm beige walls, crown molding, a high vaulted ceiling in the living space, large windows overlooking the city and expensive furnishings. It was far too large for the two of them during a one-night stay, but John insisted, and she complied. For the first time in many years, she asked if they could take a walk to the beach nearby, but he declined. Instead, they ate a meal in the hotel’s restaurant at sunset and ordered bottle service to the room. They did not speak about anything of major consequence and opted instead to participate in the normal non-verbal activities. It should have felt like a dream: the beauty of the evening, the candlelit dinner, their intimacy after so many years together, but something unsettled Daniela that she could not particularly name.

Thus, leading her to this moment of clarity; how the magic of night so quickly transformed into the reality of day. The sun was too bright through the window, the sounds of the morning rush echoed incessantly from the street below. Her head was swimming, dried mascara smeared down her cheeks. The indents of pillows and ruffled sheets proved that she had not spent the night alone, only that she had woken up that way.

When they first began dating, he would leave her notes, flowers, or call to wish her a good morning. Her heart would flutter, the smile on her face involuntary, and she’d hold onto the feeling to get her through the gray period between their inconsistent meetings. There were diary entries and letters professing love and future plans, all laid out in meticulous fashion. The timeline had been clear then, both were on the same path, but one of them had been dragging their feet, slowing the momentum.

“Can I meet your children?” she asked once.

“I don’t think they are ready yet,” he replied distractedly.

“Don’t you think they’d like me?”

“It’s more complicated than that.”

“I can wait, then, whatever you’re comfortable with.”

“That’s my girl, thank you Dani.”

It had been six years since that conversation, and she had yet to meet any member of his family. She supposed that the timing was never right, and children needed both of their parents. She needed to be patient and it would only be another year, she thought. Although, she wasn’t sure what age would be considered best to break such news.

Her arms felt numb from the awkward way she had fallen asleep, and she stretched them out before her. Daniela studied the ring on her left hand, it was an elegant solitaire setting with a one-carat diamond that caught the light spectacularly. John gave it to her years ago as a symbol of his promise, but not his commitment.

“One day,” he smiled and kissed her cheek.

She cried when he slipped it on her finger, but not for the reasons he may have suspected. They drank to excess at some lakeside hotel she could no longer recall, and remembered silently hoping that it would guarantee his stay through the morning. That was then.

Now, she took it off gently and placed it on the nightstand next to her. It felt heavy on her finger, heavy in her soul. Countless times over the past decade she would find herself waiting by her phone on Friday nights, foregoing the pleasures of her youth in order to be spared the scraps he could afford her. Her own friends were unable to understand, and one by one, each was lost to her. Lovers who presented themselves were cast aside as she bid her time for the moment John would finally be hers. She moved at his request to an apartment in the city, hours away from home, and between work and waiting, there was little time for much else.

“You will always have me,” John told her.

“What if you leave, too?” she asked him.

“I wouldn’t dream of leaving Miss Reliable.”

“Miss Reliable?”

“Yes, my very own Miss Reliable.”

As the years passed, not much had changed between them. Yet, she no longer felt like the carefree and independent woman who met John, but an extension of him. Crumbs were laid out for her to follow, but she never got closer to the treasure. Her mother cautioned her, her father disapproved, and all the while the timeline she carefully crafted was stuck somewhere between staying together and starting over. It pained her to think of life without John, but it pained her more to share. The time spent made her restless, the moments wasted made her vexed. She began to see red, clouding her vision, making the room look much less magnificent and much more like an ugly waste of space.

How much longer was she expected to wake up cold in strange beds, while his own remained warmed by another?

The hotel phone began to ring, breaking her train of thought, and her heart fluttered with maddening hope. Her spiral ceased to exist; all concerns were worries of the past. She jumped up to answer it, a large smile plastered on her aging face.

“John, I’m so glad you called.”

“Um, good morning, Mrs. Beckett, this is the wake-up call Mr. Beckett requested,” the clerk stated simply.

All color flooded from her face, and the mirror next to her showed an old, pitiable woman. Her hair thinning and gray, a glossy expression, rouged cheeks and red, smeared lips trying to conceal the truth.

“Hello? Mrs. Beckett?” The clerk asked.

“I am not Mrs. Beckett,” she replied simply.

The clerk remained silent, and Daniela hung up the phone.

She grabbed her belongings and left, a transient accustomed to packing light and leaving quickly.


Rocio Carranza, 29, lives in Pflugerville, TX. She works as a Program Security Manager responsible for designing and implementing organizational physical, administrative, and information security programs in order to protect people, infrastructures, and company assets. Rocio writes short stories and poetry in her free time. She has a MBA from the University of North Texas at Dallas.

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