Accommodations, Pt. 1

NIGHT

            Andi checked in laughing.

            “Room at the inn?” she joked of the desolate lobby. Her voice, smoky and worn for someone in her late twenties, bounded off marble. Chandelier crystals tinkled overhead.

            “Might be able to squeeze you in.” The man at the desk smiled before raising a paper mask over his mouth. It puffed and contracted between words, like a lung. “You’ve got your pick,” he said, scratching at his scalp through tight, short curls. “If you want a view, we’ve got rooms with a view. If you want to be close to the pool, say the word. Heck,” he snorted, “if you want to sleep in the pool, I’m not gonna stop you.”

            “Just something quiet,” Andi said. She adjusted the duffel bag on her shoulder, twisting brown tendrils of her unruly hair in the strap. “Not facing traffic, if you can. A little private.”

            “That’s easy,” the clerk said. His soundless fingers bapped at a rubber keyboard. “There’s only one other guest in the hotel tonight. Only guest we’ve had all week.” He yawned, pulling his face covering taut. “He’s way up in the penthouse. I’ll put you…” He drew close to the screen, nose an inch from the monitor. “Hmm. In a central room on the third floor. Insulated, near the gym.”

            “Sounds good,” Andi said. She pinched the metal clip of her own mask at the bridge of her nose. “Only two of us, huh? In the whole hotel?”

            “It’s been a slow season,” the man said.

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