Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Housekeeper and The Supervisor

This week's creative writing assignment was a tough one: write a story based on an observation that made an impact on you. The following fictional story is told from the perspective of two women. One character is woman who cleaned my room at a holiday resort some years ago; the other, a woman I met during a holiday gathering in Kansas.

The Housekeeper

By 10 AM, Francine could already feel the beads of sweat forming on the back of her neck. She was exhausted. It was early February and already hot, even for southern Florida. As Francine navigated the cleaning cart to the one bedroom suite overlooking the pool, she touched her face hoping the make-up wouldn't run. In any case, she had her sunglasses. They were good camouflage.  

Sandra, her supervisor, had merely asked if everything was alright as Francine readied the cart for the day's work. Sandra knew the signs: denial, excuses, and low self-esteem.

After cleaning the bedroom, Francine entered the bathroom.  As she picked up the wet towels and discarded shampoo bottles from the tub floor, Francine saw herself in the mirror. She touched the slight redness on her cheek. No need for the doctor, she thought. It wasn't like Thanksgiving when she'd gone to the emergency room for a fracture. 

Nikki, Francine's next door neighbor at the Tranquil Oasis Mobile Home Park, had given her the name of an organization. But things weren't that simple. And then there was Emily and Ethan to think about. They were so young. She couldn't leave. 

As Francine finished the last room of the day, she tried to think how she could make things better. She knew it wasn't her fault. Yet, part of her couldn't help but feel she was to blame, and that feeling made her angry with herself.


The Supervisor

As Sandra got into the 1995 Ford Escort, she flicked the used cigarette onto the median strip, and said to herself, “That girl is on a collision course for disaster.” She'd seen it all before. She'd given the job to Francine partly out of pity, but Francine was a good worker and dependable, which was hard to find.

It's lousy how things happen to people, she muttered to herself. Yet, she knew there wasn't much she could do. She'd keep her nose out of Francine's business, but she'd say an extra prayer for Francine tonight.

As Sandra backed the car out of the parking space, she eyed the rear view mirror and looked approvingly at her new hoop earrings. She also noticed her dark roots. Time for Miss Clairol, she thought. She'd need to stop at the CVS on the way home. If she planned it right, she could do her hair while watching Dancing with the Stars

At the Quick & Go, Sandra waived to Tina, working the register inside the convenience store. Tina flipped the switch and Sandra pressed the nozzle as the gas poured into the near-empty tank. 

Inside, as she took the two twenty dollar bills from her wallet, as always she paid in cash, Sandra asked, “How's your mother doing?”  

“Doing a lot better now that she's on those new pills. Thanks for asking” replied Tina. Sandra was always asking Tina about her family. It made Tina feel good that someone cared.  
“You've been doing such a good job taking care of her,” replied Sandra. “You gotta take care of them as they get older. I got one of those pill dispensers at WalMart for my dad. Works wonders. Never have to worry anymore,” Sandra added in her usual loud and friendly voice as she rushed out of the store.

Driving down the interstate, Sandra's thoughts returned to Francine. She felt sad. “Oh well. Not much I can do,” she reminded herself.

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