[Note: My daughter, Emily, and I are helping each other with our writing. Each week we follow a prompt. The prompt for the following story was this: A hotel is the location, loneliness is the theme. A shed is an object that plays a part in the story. 1000 words.]
“Why is the light on in that shed?” George thought, as he was shaving that morning. He usually didn’t shave at work, but he’d just finished a 24-hour shift and had a manager’s meeting later that day. It was just too much for him to have to go home and then turn back around for the meeting, so he was freshening up in the employees’ lounge.
The shed held garden tools and there was a strict policy that the lights had to be switched off when they were not in use. George resolved to contact the gardener and reprimand him for not turning off the lights.
“The lights have been on all night in that outbuilding…I wonder why?” thought a curious little girl who was on vacation with her parents. She was far from home and had developed a sore throat and ear infection. She awoke off and on all that night, and would look out the window each time at the golden moonbeams dancing on the lake. And each time her eyes would move from the lake to the shed, and the sliver of silver light that danced beneath the door. Sometimes it would dance and darken. “I wish I could go over there and see what is happening. I’ll ask my father to check it out,” she continued to think.
The shed was not visible from every room, but only from a few rooms in the East wing of the resort. Although it would not be considered an eyesore, it did not receive the same care that the rest of the complex demanded.
“LIGHTS LEFT ON IN SHED!” The gardener was beside himself. He rubbed his eyes and looked again at his cell phone screen. He shot out of bed and hurriedly put on his clothing, shoes and coat. He reprimanded himself, over and over and worried about what the manager would say. He ran out the door and waited at the bus stop.
The hotel had a strict policy against energy usage. He had been warned a few times previously not to leave leaking hoses, and was even warned specifically not to leave the lights on in any of the outbuildings when not in use.
The little girl’s father was used to his daughter’s curiosity. He tried, unsuccessfully, to come up with reasons why the lights were left on in the shed all night. But she didn’t believe that the lights had been inadvertently left on. She was convinced that there had been some sort of meeting going on inside the shed all night. She asked her father again and again. He tried to stall, but then put on his shoes and walked toward the door.
George had sent the SMS to the gardener but was curious. The light had a different glow than he would have imagined. He decided that when the gardener arrived he would go with him to the shed.
The gardener was looking down at his hands and he noticed the faint line on his fingers. “What is that from?” He thought to himself.
The little girl’s father went to the hotel lobby and grabbed a cup of coffee first. He liked to start his day with a hot beverage. In the lobby, he asked the barista at the coffee bar for a low fat latte.
While the little girl’s father was awaiting his latte, George entered the lobby with his cell phone in hand.
As the father received his latte, the gardener ran into the side door of the lobby and scurried to the time clock. As he reached for the time card, he, again, noticed the obscure line on his hand. It was from the dirty string that hung in the shed….that was attached to the light. He remembered. He had turned off the light the day before, and did so without his gloves, hence the faint stain on his skin.
The little girl was still watching from the window. The day was dawning, and the light was fading under the door of the shed. Then suddenly the light was gone. She turned to tell her mother.
The gardener approached the shed, knowing it was a full 2 hours earlier than usual; his manager walked behind him. George noticed that there was no longer any light beneath the shed door. The little girl’s father was walking that way, too, but when he saw the other two, he paused and loitered by the pool. He noticed an old man was walking around the back edge of the hotel. “Pitiful old man,” he thought to himself.
The gardener and George approached the door at the same time. The gardener opened the door and George said, “This is embarrassing. The light had been on all night.”
“Well, I might as well get started with my day, sir. I will leave two hours earlier today.”
The gardener entered the shed and noticed an odd smell. It was like the smell his grandfather used to have: “old fart smell” he used to call it. The shelter felt unusually warm, and as he was gathering some tools, he heard a pop from the TV in the corner.
He dragged a hose to the front of the hotel and began to spray the flowers. He wasn’t too careful and sprayed an old beggar who was sitting on the sidewalk. The gardener mumbled an apology and continued with his work.
George looked out the window and saw the gardener as he sprayed the old man. “Pitiful fools!” he thought to himself and he went back to the employee lounge to rest before his upcoming meeting. He would let the manager on duty take care of asking the tramp to leave.
A doctor had been summoned to examine the little girl. As he passed by the old man, he gave him some loose change and advised him to leave before someone forced him to go.
The old man looked at the change in his hands…there was a faint line across his fingers. He got up and looked for another place to go.