Denice was bone-tired when she pulled off the freeway. She pulled into the motel’s parking lot and parked beneath the single, functioning light, then walked into the office. The sign indicated there were vacancies.
A middle-aged east-Indian woman was sitting behind the counter. Her name tag read ‘Kumari Desai’.
Denice look at the name tag and arched her eyebrow. “Not Patel?”
The woman winked and said, “Cousins.”
While Kumari was filling out the paperwork, Denice commented on her bracelets. “I am always envious of Indian women’s jewelry. It looks like real gold.”
Kumari said, “It looks like real gold because it is.”
“Don’t you feel a little bit exposed wearing that much gold? Most people put their good jewelry in a safe and wear fakes.” Denice said.
Kumari said, “That is because most people do not come from a monsoon culture. Monsoon cultures must adapt to floods, droughts, plagues and war. I can walk out this door and move across the continent and start over because I am wearing my bank account. Well, that and because we have family and skills in the hospitality industry.”
Denice said, “Wow. Those bracelets must have cost a fortune. Did your husband give you that?”
Kumari laughed. “No, these bracelets are dowry and wedding gifts. That is the intention of dowry, you know. It is insurance against hard times. It is a sad father who has many daughters because he will die a pauper.”
In the morning Denice made a To Do list on paper. Denice found she thought better with a pencil in her hand. Besides, nobody had yet found a way to hack a pad of paper. Denice had been writing out ‘bullets’ on an index card. She put them into priority and crossed out the ones that were redundant. Then she copied the list onto a new card and tossed the working card into the trash.
Upon a moment’s reflection, she pulled the card out of the trash and put it into her pocket. She had the germ of an idea.