Courtesy of Reddit
Riley’s eyes were trained on the tower that hovered above her from where she stood in the strips of Las Vegas. She stared at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, not realizing how much time has passed. She didn’t want the moment to move forward and become an illusion.
Her lips pursed as she took in the architecture of the tower with its steel form looming above the tranquil streams of water that were behind her. She studied the open space that was found between the linings of the building's appearance. The tower stood upwards and would shrink as it would rise like an hourglass being filled with sand.
She squinted her eyes to look at the top of the building and pondered on how it would feel to be that far away from the ground she was standing on.
She imagined the sounds of the wind singing through her ear canals rather than the ruckus of footsteps slamming on sidewalk pavements, the echoes of crowds walking past the hotels perched on the strip, and the screeches of car tires on the highway lanes that required pedestrians to cross bridges to get to the other side of the road.
She even preferred it over the stenches of Lake Mead evaporating from the sewers and the odors of human bodies perspiring from 100-degree heat.
Anything would be better than here.
“You must really like that tower, don’t you?”
Riley turned to look at her husband Steven. He remained composed by standing upright, but she took note of his legs twitching and his posture starting to slowly sway. It was obvious that he needed to sit down after walking the strip for hours with a camera bag and a sturdy tripod. His green eyes peered into her hazel orbs as he walked closer to her, the setting sun only continued to glaze his pale skin and dark hair that was combed to the side.
“It’s nice,” Riley shrugged and faced the tower again.
The smell of fresh bread wafted into her nostrils along with roasted French vanilla bean coffee from Café Belle Madeleine. She refused to look at Steven knowing his gaze was starting to soften.
“I know you’re not enjoying this,” Steven murmured.
He sighed quietly and placed his firm hands on her toned shoulders.
“I’m sorry that your days have been spent following me around while I take photos.” He planted a kiss on the back of her head and let his hands move to wrap around her waist from behind.
“It’s part of being the wife of a photojournalist,” Riley chuckled.
She moved her head to face him and placed her hand on his cheek to make his eyes look into hers. “I wouldn’t have it any other way if it means I get to support you in what makes you happy.”
Steven’s lips curved slightly, and he gently pulled her closer to him.
“It means everything to have you with me,” he spoke tenderly. “But I know that being outside and around a lot of people is not your cup of tea, especially with how Las Vegas is during the day.”
“Well, the dry air and bustling sidewalks are definitely not my favorite thing in the world,” Riley said. “But I’m okay with it if it means I get to spend the rest of the night in our air-conditioned room at the Mandalay Bay.”
She smiled at the thought of entering the casino and being surrounded by smoked cigarettes. Steven looked down suddenly and bit his lip.
“What if I may want you out just a little longer?” Riley's eyes shot up and her lips formed a straight line.
“Steven, we have been out for over six hours,” Riley exclaimed as she removed his arms from her waist. “I’ve seen everything of Las Vegas and I’m sure there’s nothing else that could make me want to stay out here any longer.”
She fought the urge to release her anger and crossed her arms. She closed her eyes tightly and bit her tongue until it began to sting like a hornet.
“Riley, turn around.”
Riley reluctantly turned around and stopped.
She didn’t realize that the sky had already gotten dark, and the buildings of the strip began to light up. Neon lights surrounded every building, bringing life to the words of building signs and landmarks. The lights moved in their own patterns and gradually shifted their hues. The lights were complemented by the brisk winds embracing her shoulders and the smell of caramel approaching her as kids ran past her holding cotton candy in their hands.
The sounds of guitar strings and harmonious voices came from groups of people busking from a distance. Cars cruising along the expressway and the laughter of young children all came to Riley at once. She held her breath, the world looked like the insides of a kaleidoscope that would change as you rotated the tube.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
“I had a feeling you would like it,” Steven said. “You always loved bright lights and colors even when we were kids.”
Riley’s body moved as her eyes looked over every building. It looked just like the lights that would cover her room every night when she would turn on the lights to go to sleep as a child. She would recall how it would be her personal lullaby and how it would deliver her peace when she would be afraid of how dark the world could be.
“Do you want to go back to the hotel now?” he asked. Riley had her eyes on the Eiffel tower that she was looking at before.
“No, let’s stay here for a little while.”