Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: CHECKING IN OR OUT (hotel/motel on vacation) (08/27/15)
TITLE: Love Heals all Wounds
By Jennifer Woodley
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Exhausted and relieved, John held the glass door open as they lugged themselves and their baggage through the breezy entryway. Marty studied her going-away outfit. Chosen in David Jones with her mum, it was a fashionable, sixties, lovely-lavender twin-set with white pumps: now drenched to the skin. And her hair was a wind-wiped, wild mess. “No use crying over spilt milk.” Marty smiled to herself.
Settling the baggage, they approached the mahogany reception desk, a little embarrassed by their bedraggled appearance. “Rainin’ cats ‘n dogs tonight.” John laughed, nodding at the receptionist.
A middle-aged woman, looking smart and efficient in her fashionable, sixties, pretty-pink twin-set, withdrew from her work and smiled warmly at them. “Yes,” she said, though her smile snapped shut when she saw Marty. “Hello Marty,” she sneered with an all-knowing look in her eyes.
Marty thought this might be a good time to faint. “Hello Clara,” she mumbled weakly. Marty wobbled on her feet, her mind spinning with long-forgotten memories. She was visibly shaken. Slipping an arm around his wife for support, John drew Marty close, reassured her with a smile, and announced, “Mr and Mrs Moray here for seven nights – our honeymoon vacation.”
Clara flipped open the register, ran her fingers down a column, hesitated, ticked the line in red and spun around, abruptly flicking keys from a hook. She slapped them into John’s outstretched hand and flipped close the register. “Room 260,” she snapped. “Second level, turn right, first door on the left. Breakfast is in the dining room at 8.00 am sharp. No breakfast for latecomers. Goodnight.” Then spinning on her fancy white pumps, she was gone. Whoosh!
John was shocked by her rudeness; bewildered by her abrupt behavior. He turned to Marty with a quizzical look that said, “So what’s this all about darling?” Common sense told him that their hotel room was a better place to unpack the proverbial skeletons lying in the cupboard.
An hour later, sprawled on ottomans, the newly weds munched on warm, buttery toast washed down with hot tea, and laughter filled Room 260 at Masseys. “So Clara was Ricky’s mother,” smiled Marty, “and she doted on me, certain that we would marry. Ricky was a sweet guy, generous and kind, but it just didn’t work out: he traveled so much as a policeman. Clara was furious when our courtship ended. She said I was ungrateful, undeserving and would never find another man as good as her son.” Marty’s voice dropped, “It was hard at the time John, I was only seventeen, unsure of myself and so easily influenced. The years have been kind to me: healed the pain and blurred the memories. Not so for Clara though. She was bitter back then, and the hurt is still festering today. It is sad to see her like that.”
A week later, they stood side by side at the reception desk. A loving glow shone from their faces and flooded their hearts. Jim spoke with warmth and confidence. “Clara we are checking out this morning. Thank you for your hospitality this week, we have loved staying at Masseys.” His words were generous, sincere and caring.
Clara found herself on unstable ground. Usually so self assured, she floundered for words. Their kindness towards her this past week had brought Clara quite undone. Her hard exterior had shattered into a million tiny pieces. “Thank you,” she stammered. “It has been my um… pleasure to serve you both.” Relief and real delight filled her heart; it felt good to speak with kindness. “I hope that you will come again, Mr and Mrs Moray.”
Marty nodded with a warm smile and looked with love into Clara’s face. “God bless you, Clara.” she said and murmured a prayer from her heart. As they left, Clara felt a shift inside: a releasing of darkness, a soft flood of light and love that had never been there before.
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