People pass through the hotel every day, and one pair of eyes notices every one.
A woman stands and smokes on a balcony, finding solace in the smoke that she cannot seem to find anywhere else. Under the harsh electric light, her skin appears sallow, drooping. As soon as the final ashes fall, she regains her composure and returns to her lover in the bedroom, pasting a sultry smile on to her painted lips, as she has grown to know people expect.
When she had checked in, the receptionist had noticed how white the knuckles on her manicured fingers were as they clutched at her suitcase handle.
“Your room is 240, madam, turn right when you reach the second floor and walk along that corridor. It will be on your left.”
“Thank you.” The woman didn’t look as she took the key, eyes shifting around the room. She waved away the bell hop, climbed into the lift, said, “Two please.” Her eyes swivel to the ceiling and the lift pulls away. When she returns her keys, she has another woman in tow, one whose eyes glance around as she adjusts her fur coat, winking at those who catch her eye. The first woman shifts uncomfortably, staring at the desk as she slides the keys over.
“Thank you, I hope you enjoyed your stay. See you again soon!”
“Thank you, goodbye.” She looks up. Smiles. Looks back down. Her companion lingers as she walks, revelling in the stares.
A man arrives in the lobby, top hat and overcoat making people stare, as if they believe that walking down the hotel’s centuries old grand central staircase has transported them back in time. Some wave, some smile, seeing the man’s dress as an invitation to acknowledge him – he did not want this to be the case, and yet, it is. He nods to the bellhop, who takes his suitcase from his grasp, walks to the lift and sinks against the wall, breathing. He knows how full this weekend will be, and the receptionist can’t help but feel sorry for him, despite the air of confidence he talks with the next day. He still sinks into the lift when it’s over.
He slides the keys over the desk.
“Thank you Sir, I hope you enjoyed your stay.”
He looks up at the receptionist and shakes his head. “The hotel is lovely. Now back to the wife and kids.” The smile he attempts turns his lips to a thin line as he raises his eyebrows, picks up his case and walks out, the threadbare hems of his trousers catching on his soles.
The hotel is closed for the weekend for a wedding, and as the receptionist welcomes the bridal party, he can’t help but notice the bride’s thinly preserved smile as two older women direct things behind her.
“Your key, madam. Room 67 for the first night. The honeymoon suite will be ready for you tomorrow.”
“Thank you Sir, everything looks perfect.” She smiles and nods with such genuine warmth that the receptionist can’t help but smile, and sends her an extra bottle of champagne, on the house.
The day of her wedding, she stands in the room soon to be filled with guests, looking around as her train falls behind her. She sees the tablecloths and seat covers that her mother in law to be picked out, the set up for the DJ that her father insisted would be better than a band, despite the bride’s best friend offering to play with their band for free, the flowers that her aunt insisted on, as she wears the gown that her mother picked out, insisting it was the most flattering to her figure. She finds her cheeks wet, and as the receptionist passes the room he makes a mental note to send chocolates up with the champagne that evening. Hours later, as she is spun about the room, she laughs, the sound brittle and hollow in her ears. The party continues long after she slips away from the wedding with her husband, into their room where they devour the chocolates before collapsing into bed.
She slides the two sets of keys over the desk as the sun is wiping the sleep from its eyes.
“Thank you for all the hard work you put in this weekend, it was fantastic.”
The receptionist thinks of the drunken wedding guests that had stumbled through the hall minutes before and smiles. “It was a beautiful wedding; I am glad you enjoyed your stay. Congratulations.”
The bride smiles as the groom stares at her, transfixed. “No doubt we will be staying here again soon. Auf Wiedersehen!”
“Goodbye.” The receptionist smiles to himself later when a maid hands him a handful of banknotes and a note that reads, ‘Thank you for the chocolate xx’
Many people visit the hotel, and the receptionist notices every one.
This is a piece a wrote for which the brief was to write a piece that you could storyboard, in order to make it very visual. I found a very striking picture online of a woman leaning on a very grand bannister in a hotel, smoking, and I was fascinated in what this woman was doing, and began thinking about how for most people, a hotel is a temporary place, but for some, it is their life (or at least part of) and these people get to witness such a wide variety of people passing through all the time.
At the moment I am working on quite a few pieces for uni, some may reach here, some may not, so expect some works in progress in the not-so-distant future!