Empty tables stand
under glowing orange globes.
Wine glasses glisten.
Doors open, letting
cold air blow in, shivering
people order, then
leave when food is done.
Kitchen returns to quiet,
prepping for the rush
that may never come.
Waiters waiting wistfully,
seats remain empty,
the whole building waiting to
be filled with diners to fill.
Empty tables stand
Part 9: Portal
Janet went in early for her shift the next day. Felicia was at her desk, as always.
“How did things go last night?”
“The portals are still closed, if that’s what you mean. Our Exile Prince has gone to the basement to work in peace.”
This is a Rimas Dissolutas — a poem where the rhymes are not in the stanzas, but across the stanza (i.e. line 1 of the first stanza rhymes with line 1 of the second, and so on). This one kind of got away from me. I started with the image of flying and did not expect to be writing about regrets. But that was the way the words fit together. I guess that’s the fun of poetry. Anyway, here goes:
Part 8: Meetings
Smith’s office was larger than Janet remembered it. It was the same room — there was the mahogany desk, with the scented candles and the dim lamps, and the carpet was the same shade of blood red. But now instead of being a small close space, it was large enough to seat ten people. Magic again. At least it meant they’d be comfortable. It wasn’t just Smith, Hela and Felicia here, but three other staff — she knew the head cook, Frankl, and she’d seen the two tall men in blue in the lobby, acting as porters, but didn’t know their names. Janet sank into a leather armchair, noting that the edges of the room were still shadowy. Perhaps there weren’t any walls in this room, just a patch of light that grew and shrank. There was no way to be comfortable here, now she knew this room was designed so her thoughts could be read.
Endings are very important. You can enjoy a story all the way up to the end, but sometimes the actual ending will be so bad it retroactively makes you hate the rest of the story.
Many say that the worst ending is “And then I woke up and it was all a dream.”
Part 7: Room Service
Janet spent the next few shifts on high alert, expecting Robin or Paxton to pop up, or for Hela or Smith to grill her about what she had done. Grill her, and then fire her. But nothing happened. She helped Hela organise the basement storeroom, and then the one next to it, and after that they moved onto laundering and sorting the linens.
Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis, is a post-apocalyptic Western. It centres on Elka, a girl who was lost in a forest far from home and ended up being raised by a man who turned out to be a serial murderer. Once she finds this out, she decides to run away and seek out her parents, but she is pursued by the murderer who raised her and the sheriff who wants to catch them both.
Part 6: Felicia
Janet glanced at her watch. Her shift had ended at half past nine. It was now past midnight. Where had the time gone? She looked up at Paxton. “I need to leave without getting lost and without anyone seeing me. I don’t suppose you can help me with either one of those?”
This is something I wrote in the quest to become more of a morning person. I’m not one, at all, but I’ve found that if I’m not at least a little productive in the morning the day tends to be less productive overall. Apparently snoozing is bad, but my bed is too comfortable for not snoozing to be easy. So this is something I’ve stuck next to my bed. The idea is that when my alarm rings, I recite this poem and then get out of bed immediately after the last line:
Part 5: Mind Tricks
Janet stared at the impossible people before her. Robin Foxglove and Paxton Blackthorn stood before her, just as she had seen them before. Only they should not be in the basement. Hadn’t they left the hotel? And how was she in the basement?
“I’m dreaming,” she said. “I have to be.”
“Please, mistress,” said Robin, “it’s no dream. We need your help.”