There was a spot. A brown spot on the toe of my white shoes. I groaned and continued to tie up the laces. It would at least take me two weeks to save up and buy a new pair.
“Maybe you can put some bleach on it.” My father said lightly in the background.
“Yea, isn’t bleach like supposed to make things white?” My brother as well put his thoughts out. I sighed loudly and shook my head at their thoughts.
“No, I can’t put bleach on them. The hotel specially orders them for us. If I did put bleach then the fabric would ruin.” I rubbed at the brown spot that the drop of syrup made, maybe if I had rubbed hard enough the spot would go away in the dreams. “It is going to take me two weeks to save for a new pair.” I stood up and wiggled my right foot; the spot didn’t look as bad as it did close up.
“Elora, if you need some money I won’t eat lunch this week and you can have the money at the end of this week.” Ezra smiled brightly at me when he spoke. I knew he was trying to help every possible way, but he was only 16. He shouldn’t be worrying about money. “No.” I shot down his idea.
“You are a growing boy—“
“Whatever. You are a growing man, and you need to eat.” Running my hands down my uniform I straighten the white hem of the apron. “Now, come on or we will be late. I already have enough teachers calling me to inform that you are late to class.” I watched as my brother stuffed the last of his hotcake into his mouth. I walked to my father who was getting ready to set off as well. “Bye, pa.” I kissed his cheek. He smiled and kissed my cheek as well, my brother running to farewell his goodbye as well.
My father had been working in the same company since I had been born twenty two years ago, he had been promoted to manager a few years back, he had always joked that they only promoted him so he could stop breaking the products. “I will be staying a bit late today, but will be back for dinner.” His gruff voice called out as we left. I shot him a last smile as I closed the door behind us.
“Have you noticed anything different lately?” Ezra asked as we walked down the street. I wrapped my coat tighter around my self, the mornings were getting colder, and with the month of November coming upon us meaning the sun wasn’t coming out as much as used to.
“Yea, the sun isn’t coming out much.” Ezra snorted and bumped his shoulder against mine, well his arm; he had been taller than me since he was 14.
“No, not that.” He stayed quiet for a second or two. “With Pa I mean.” He words came out small and almost fragile, as he was afraid of mentioning it. I furrowed my eyebrows, and turned to look at him. I shook my head lightly and motioned with my hand for him to keep explaining. “He just seems out of it.”
“He is always out of it, especially around this time of the year, you know he gets emotional.” I hooked my arm through his. Ezra was in his teens years and he wasn’t a regular one, he worried too much and tried helping out a lot knowing he couldn’t do a thing besides go to school. Ezra really worried about our father though, he was all we had. “This is a tough time for us Ezra, especially for him.”
“No, Elora, not that. I mean that he looks sick. Again.” I halted to a stop, Ezra slightly tripping. His words had come out in a force, like he had trouble speaking them out loud. “What?” his words making my heart stop a little. A panic rising in my throat, he couldn’t be sick, not anymore. I stared at Ezra; his face was neutral, his green eyes showing all his emotions though. He was worried; I knew he had been holding this conversation all this week. Ezra pressed his lips together, shying away all together.
“Dude, no don’t back out now. Tell me Ezra.” My voice was now stern; I had only spoken to him in that voice in a few times he had gotten trouble.
“Haven’t you seen him, El?” Ezra waved his arms in front of him trying to make a point. “Of course I have! Pa looks fine.”
“No he doesn’t! He looks pale, and he is coughing again. A lot. Especially at night.” Ezra smacked his hands against face. I stayed a quit thinking back to the past weeks. It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed, because I did. He did look pale and he was coughing a lot more now too. I had just assumed that he was getting the flu or something; I made myself think to last night. He hadn’t eaten much during dinner either, and he usually went for seconds but he hadn’t last night, or the past week.
“He didn’t eat as much last night…or this past week.” I muttered. I looked at Ezra, who was shaking his head in a fierce yes.
“El, what if he is getting sick again? I won’t be able to handle it this time.” His voice had grown two octaves higher. I shook my head quickly, and reached to grip his face, his cheeks mushing together and lips puckering. “El, I am worried, like a lot.” I closed my eyes for moment. What could I tell him? Most of the signs were back but a little hope in my body pushed all the bad thoughts away from the possible damage that could come at us.
“No, no, it is okay, Ezra it is alright. We shouldn’t get worried. It just makes things worse okay? We need to stay positive. How about we talk to him about it tonight during dinner, or after dinner?”
“After, I can wash the dishes for him.” I gave him a small smile and reached to kiss the top of his head. I let go of his face and he wrinkled his nose.
“I think I am going to be late.” He mumbled. I snorted at him.
“Tell them to call me.” He beamed and we continued to walk. Surprisingly enough, I got Ezra to school before the bell rang, with five minutes to spare.
“I think today I will meet you in front of the hotel.” Ezra said casually. I raised an eyebrow at him, he usually waited for me right here in front of the school. I didn’t question him, instead I pointed out his friends were staring at him. “Bye, Elora, love you.” He kissed my cheek.
“Bye, Bye. Love you too.” I returned his kiss.
I had been working at the Hôtel Ritz for exactly a year now; it was my first stable job that didn’t have me changing shifts every three days. I was maid, to put it simply I cleaned for rich bastards that thought that since they were rich they could destroy their hotel room. In reality I had grown used to the messy rooms, and I didn’t complain, the people that stayed here were rolling in money, they left big tips and they were life savers, some didn’t leave tips at all but I paid no mind to them. I didn’t mind either the uniform either, a black cloth dresses that went up to the elbows with a white apron that tied around the neck, and black tights and white shoes, it wasn’t bad, and I didn’t dread working at the hotel, it was sort of nice. My salary was enough to pay the bills and feed our mouths, and if I saved enough money we could even splurge a little on enjoyable activities. As I walked closer to the doors of the hotel I could see that Harry was upfront today. I could hear the hellos being exchanged as I got closer to the door, the blabbing of people growing louder as well. Harry was a tall guy that was gay to the bone; he was fit and had the face of an angel.
“Well, guess who decided to come to work today.” He teased as he saw me come up the corner. “Ten minutes early, as always.” I stood right in front of him. He rolled his eyes, he was from London and I wasn’t sure if British people had a bad tendency of rolling their eyes or it was only Harry. I had asked him once if he had problems with his eyes when I had first met him, he well, rolled his eyes and told me he was surrounded by stupid people and that was the only way he could ignore their stupidity. “That doesn’t matter, Elora, what does matter is that you showed up, unlike Alexandria.” I sighed loudly.
“Another bad night?” Harry shrugged and then nodded. He lived next to Alexandria for three years already, his parents moving out when he had turned nineteen and he hadn’t left the flat. “Yea, all I heard was yelling and Emily spent the night with me…again.” I frowned and patted Harry’s chest.
“I hope one day she clears her mind up enough to notice what it happening around her.” Harry agreed and sent me on my way. I knew I was in for a good job when Anton gave me the combination to my locker.
The locker room was the room for anyone that worked here in the hotel. The hotel staff was kind and there were a lot of us, 600 workers to be exact, half worked during and the other half during the night. By the time that Alexandria had come in running two minutes I had already punched her card and mine in, and was focused on getting the stain out of my shoe. “I already punched in you.” She plopped next to me, regaining her breath after her run.
“Thanks, you are a life saver.” I hummed an answer. “What are you doing?” She brushed her blond hair out of her face. I turned to her and pointed at my shoe.
“I made hotcakes this morning and got a drop of syrup on the toe of my shoe.” Alexandria huffed and turned to her locker and took out a pair of white shoes. “Here, I have like another twenty at home, I always have accidents.”
I looked up at her; I wasn’t going to deny the free shoes. I grabbed them, “Thanks.” She grabbed my old ones and told me that she would t clean them.
“No worry, I learned how to clean this shits well, you can keep those and I will have these done by Monday, so you can have an extra pair.” I watched her as she stuffed my shoes into her bag and shoved it into her lockers.
The day started like any other. Anton had come in given us his daily speech on how he loved us for our hard work and that he wouldn’t expect less, I had zoned out after he assigned us our rooms for the day, only paying attention when Alexandria elbowed me. I snapped my gaze at her and followed her finger. Anton was still talking. “As I mentioned earlier this week, we will be welcoming the teenage heartthrob Louis Tomlinson and his crew these following two weeks. They will be arriving tonight and I know for a fact that there will be screaming girls the next morning so I want you to all come at least twenty minutes earlier.” I didn’t really care; we had been over this when other celebrities came, the always twenty minutes early blah, blah. Anton had dismissed us in a matter of minutes.
The day had been like any other, I had cleaned and luckily the rooms I had gotten weren’t as messy. I had always dreaded cleaning the suites but I had always been paired up with Alexandria when cleaning them. She had been my first friend working here; she was three years older than me, married and had a daughter that was five. She was my best friend and as cheesy as it sounded I looked up to her, I knew she didn’t have the best life and sometimes she showed up to work with bruise on her face poorly hidden. Lunch had passed, with a call from Ezra and my father, I asked Anton for permission to be let out an hour early on Monday to take my father to the doctor and I was off again to working. I got off at 4:40 and just like Ezra said, he was waiting outside for me. He was chatting with Harry both boys with a smile on their faces, Ezra shyly waving a bye to Harry as we left. His cheeks were red with a blush that I barely ever got to see. He was smiling like he was ray of sunshine; he hooked his arm through mine and walked a little bit faster than usual.
“What is up with you?” I slowed him down a bit. He shook his head and blushed even more. “Seriously, dude why are you blushing.”
Ezra sighed and turned to me. “I have a date.” I stopped for a moment and registered his words; my baby brother had a date.
“With who?” I questioned.
“Harry.” I glanced at Ezra, he had dreamy eyes. I didn’t mean to for my bother to trip but the name had taken me by surprise, making me stop and send him flying, due to his tendency of not being able to stop walking.
He grumbled slightly as he stood up. “Harry is four years your senior.” My sense still built a smile on my face though.
“I don’t care. I like him.” I stared at Ezra. “Don’t look at me like that. You scare me.” I pursed my lips and sighed, I was going to have a talk with Harry tomorrow on how to treat my brother.
“I made an appointment for Monday Pa, for the doctor.” I sat down next to him, my hands were fumbling in my lap.
“Oh, why? Are you sick?” I looked over at Ezra, he was seated in front of the coffee table, his homework laid out in front of him, he looked like he wanted to cry.
“No, Pa, you haven’t eaten much and you are coughing again, we are worried.” My father looked taken back for a moment. “We just want to make sure, it hasn’t come back.” Ezra stood up from his place and walked to my father; he plopped down on the hand rest and sighed shakily.
“Is that why you washed the dishes, boy?” Ezra nodded guilty and sat next to my father. “Fine, I will go. I have been feeling off lately.” My father patted Ezra’s leg and reached to touch my hand. “Thank you for worrying for kids.”
“Ezra has date.” I blurted out to prevent the heavy air settling in the room. My father then went to stare at Ezra. “With Harry.” I watched as my father tried to hide his smile, his hand coming up to cover his mouth, he cleared his throat
“Son that boy is four years your senior.”
Ezra hid his face as he blushed; he looked up with a pointed stare and said, “I know how to say no!” my father laughed and patted Ezra. “I like him, he treats me nice and I know he likes me back. It is hard to find a gay around here.”
“Be careful son.” I laughed as my father said that and pushed my curly dark brown hair out of my face. “Goodness, you two are so grown up. Leaving me behind one day.” I think as I went to bed that night I was relieved that my father agreed to go to the doctor, I didn’t want to get bad again, and I knew Ezra was the happiest that it had been brought up. He had a lot trouble on my father getting sick, we couldn’t afford to lose him too.
It was a miracle when I woke up before my alarm; it was good to start out my Fridays without annoying beep. The mornings now were now gray when I woke up and it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. It was just like another morning. Waking up Ezra and my dad, making breakfast and making sure Ezra had money to buy lunch. “I don’t know why you have stuff your food in your mouth.” I said as Ezra stuffed his egg and bacon into his mouth.
“I’m hungry in the mornings.”
“So am I, but you don’t see me trying to choke myself.” I fixed my shoes.
They were freshly white and looked perfect. “You got new shoes!” Ezra pointed out, my father peeking at my shoes. “They look so white.” I nodded and pointed them out.
“Yea, Alexandria gave me an extra pair. I am so thankful for that.”
“That is good.” My father left earlier than us that morning, kissing our cheek he left at rushed Ezra too. We rushed down the stairs of the flat building so I could be on time.
“Harry told me that a famous person is staying at the hotel today, Louis Tomlinson?”
“Yea, I need to be there twenty minutes early, which is why we had to leave earlier today.” Ezra nodded at my words and I listened to him talk how excited he was for his date on Sunday.
As we came to Ezra’s school I stayed a bit with him. I chatted a bit about his studies having some extra minutes put to him. He kissed my cheek, “I will see you later. I promise won’t burn the bread this time.”
I almost had to hide my wince at that failed attempt of him making dinner. I laughed and kissed his cheek. I went in until ten at night on Fridays working the night shift and worked the night shift on Saturday and had Sunday’s off. My father and Ezra came those days and walked with me home at night.
“Love you too.”
There must have been hundreds of girls outside the hotel; there were gates at the entrance, big brooding guys keeping the girls away. I walked to Harry and Alexandria who were outside waiting for me. I raised my eyebrows at Alexandria, she wasn’t late. “He dragged my ass out of bed.” She shot a glare at Harry.
“Be thankful I did, or you wouldn’t have a job.” I laughed, and we went for the entrance, the security asking for our staff I.D. We waited for Anton in the locker room, Harry coming with us. He wasn’t working on door duty today or the following two weeks. Anton looked stressed when he came in, everyone going quiet as he came in. Alexandria shutting up about Emily’s fit last night.
“My dear workers, these following days are going to be crazy. We have already caught at least five girls roaming the hotel, and we simply can have that. We will be going as usual in pairs in cleaning, some going in threes, if you are assigned Louis Tomlinson’s or crews rooms when visiting. We have to work very hard the next days. We are starting with the normal rooms today, and after lunch come and see me and new rooms will be given. Understood?” Anton sounded nervous as he spoke. He sent us off for the while until the hour of lunch, Alexandria continued her story that I listened to her and we talked as we cleaned, running into Jem once while cleaning.
Lunch was good. Harry sat next to me and Alexandria across form us. “Do you think that any of the girls out there are thinking of dressing up as a maid and sneaking in?” Harry asked. Alexandria shook her head.
“They already caught a girl doing it.” She spoke as she sipped her coffee.
Harry widen his eyes and shuddered. “How many cups of coffee do you two have a day?” he asked.
I turned to him and drank my own coffee. “It depends; I usually have three or four.” I stated with no expression.
“Me too.” Harry looked between me and Alexandria. “We are French, we love coffee.” Alexandria gave him the finger.
“Speaking of French people, my brother is indeed French Harry and you have a date I suppose.” I turned to stare at him. Harry swatted at my shoulder.
“Don’t look at me like that, it freaks me out. I know what you are going to tell me already, you will beat my ass if I treat him wrong, which I won’t because he is lovely.”
Alexandria cheered, “Harry is gonna get laid!” I turned my stare to her. “I will shut up now.” I rolled my eyes at the two and ate my food in peace.
Anton had come in when I had put all the trash in the bin, he was sitting table by table telling us not to move from where we were, so as he plopped in front of us Harry had to hold his squeak from surprise, “Okay, you three, room 157, it belongs to Louis Tomlinson if I am correct or whatever boy has blue eyes, I don’t care. I want that room spotless. Understood?” Anton had left without an answer.
“Does that mean we have to clean the whole suite or only the bedroom?” Alexandria asked after he left. I shrugged and stood up. “Do we have to that now?”
I pulled the pair up and pushed them to the carts. We were stuffed in the elevator the cart was big and three people along with it made it hard to breathe. We stood in front of room 157 for a minute or three. “Do you think he is in there?”
“You don’t know that.”
“I do, now shut up Harry.” Alexandria opened the door to an empty room. I had never cleaned a full on pent suite. They were big and I understood now why three people had to clean it. “Holy shit guys, just imagine the bedroom.”
“This is bigger than my flat” I mumbled out.
“All of our flats.” Harry said lightly.
“I wanna see the bedroom!” Alexandria called out and ran for the big Victorian doors, the mess in the tracks stopping her from going in. We followed from behind, there were clothes everywhere and half of the suitcases were sprawled out in different places. “Never mind, I am going to get the vacuums first. Come on Harry, Elora can fix the bed.”
“Yea, I am great at fixing them.” I smiled brightly. That was one thing I got really good at, fixing beds, it became my favorite thing to do. Harry shrugged and followed Alexandria out. As I watched them go out I wondered how I was actually to fix the bed. Clothes were everywhere on it. I made way slowly towards it and looked around.
I scratched my head and started to fold the clothes on the bed first. Most were pants and shirts. I had created two neat piles so far when I grabbed for a black cloth. I shook them before noticing what they were. Underwear. Calvin Klein black briefs to be exact. I held them up and stared.
Oaky, so this guy didn’t like to put his undergarments away. “You don’t have to fold those.” I let the briefs go with a scream, the voice had scared me.
I turned quickly, finding a guy standing there. I cleared my throat as the guy watched. “Sorry, I was just cleaning.”
“It is fine, they are dirty anyways.” I quickly looked down at my hands. I touched dirty underwear of a stranger.