Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)
TITLE: A Fly on the Wall
By Ann Grover
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Sometimes, I try to get a closer look, getting rewarded for my attempts with unsuccessful swings and swats. Usually, I bide my time, watching and waiting for vacancy before I scavenge among the castoffs and leftovers for something worthwhile.
I am never bored, since a steady stream of occupants comes into my sphered vision.
The families are hugely entertaining. Small children look through drawers, unwrap soap, and check out every satellite channel. They leave a trail of chocolate bar smears and potato chips. They eventually sprawl together, parents and children alike, in puppy-like abandon on the beds. In the morning, I help myself to granola bar crumbs and apple juice.
Large groups of girls are always amusing. They arrive as a herd, giggling and laughing, dumping their bags on the floor, and kicking off their shoes. They pile on the beds, rip open bags of snacks, and turn up MTV. I retreat to a corner, trying to avoid the toxic mist of hairspray and nail polish. Their loud, good-natured fun continues until late into the night, when their exuberance finally settles into whispered discussions about their futures and dreams and goals.
But consider the gentleman who pauses after shutting the door and leans against it. Eventually, he walks over to the bed and sits on the edge with his head in his hands. He opens the night stand and lifts out the Bible. He leafs through it, sometimes pausing to read. He gives a low grown and leans back into the pillow. He stares at the ceiling; I think, perhaps, he is looking into my eyes, and I twitch uneasily. After a time, when the room darkens, I hear him feeling in his jacket pocket; there’s a loud click and a silence. I wait. I doze. He leaves before morning light.
I hear the next occupants before I see them. The vibration of their music thrums through me as they fumble with the lock. A young man and woman, teens really, laugh together nervously, and sit at the table while they polish off burgers and Coke. I tremble in anticipation of partaking of such delectable fare, but it’s nothing in comparison to the electric energy of their excitement. As the light fades, their laughter turns to sighs and murmuring. A rustling of sheets. A few muffled sobs. It is a restless night.
The fragrance of White Diamonds arrives before the next occupant comes into view. I know this one. She comes often. All night, there will be comings and goings. In the rosy glow of dawn, I will sip from the rim of a lipstick-smudged wine bottle.
Then, an elderly couple. They methodically hang up their jackets and put their coffee cream in the little refrigerator. He pockets the complimentary pen. She takes a bath. They watch the news and a rerun of Gunsmoke. They talk about their gas mileage and the price of bread. Their low, slow voices give way to synchronized snores, harmonizing after fifty years of sleeping side by side.
The maids also provide a diversion. Some laconically swipe the cloth over the table and bathroom vanity and indifferently push the vacuum across the floor. Others fuss about in clouds of Lysol fumes, not leaving until the faucets glisten and the toilet sparkles. Occasionally, one will poke around in a suitcase or pry through papers on the desk. I’ve even seen one or two flip through a wallet. I keep my many eyes on them.
And so it goes.
It’s an interesting thing - this temporary home - where diverse lives come together, lives that are in transit in one way or another. Each one leaves a bit of himself in a smudge on the television or an echo in the air. Sometimes, the mattress is barely cool before the next person arrives. The newcomer breathes in the lingering scents and vapours of the others, unaware that their lives have briefly overlapped.
Each morning, the door will be pulled shut. For a moment, dust will eddy and swirl in the air before settling on the lampshade, forming a small, almost imperceptible mosaic.
But I can see all.
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