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life is a shift

The motel attached to the back of the town’s oldest riverside hotel has ten rooms, five up, five down. Built from breeze blocks, room for five cars in the carpark, a narrow steel stepway leading to the rooms upstairs. Rooms numbered from six to ten.

All in a row.

A double bed in each, a sink and a dresser. No television, no refrigerator, no tea-bags, no milk and no sugar. Two pillows. A bathroom.  Two white towels. No window other than the one by the side of the door, a door that looks across an alley to a carpark behind the town’s legal offices.

Room ten.

Room ten’s door is closed, its only window with the blinds drawn. As ever.

Outside the door a ten-dollar plastic chair. On it a fifty-dollar woman. Smoking and supping from a steel flask.

She waits. I watch.

He black hair is tied into a tight bun and she wears a white blouse and checkered slacks. She sits, looking neither here or there. She waits. Smokes. Drinks.


Patient. Used. Again and again.

She hangs a white towel over the railing beside her chair at about the same time the school buses arrive in town with their homecoming children. Her children.

Then she is gone.

Life is a shift. Until it’s over.


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