The door led nowhere. Except to a story that grew from the top floor of a restored Regency hotel with a Room 19 but no supporting building beneath it. We paused on the landing to catch our breath. We were in London, not in Escher-world, so where did the door go? We considered premises:
- To a room on a ledge
- It was a facade
The nowhere theory held weight only if we thought nowhere was somewhere and if it wasn’t, it was a facade. The room on a ledge sounded romantic, so balance swung in its favour. A facade, though clever was shallow. Like the preserved historic street fronts, propped up by scaffolding and girders, hiding demolition for redevelopment. Or building sites with garden mural hoardings. Or whole blocks of derelict flats wrapped in plastic painted windows. Facades, for the judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover generation.
We took turns at the keyhole. All we saw was sky. Below, eighteen other rooms climbed in a spiral pattern, sprocketing off and up the stairs. Room 19 was an extra cog which could not exist.
You think it was an attic don’t you? Option ‘d’. Could be if it was higher than the others. It wasn’t. And the top floor had space for three rooms, not four. We can regenerate skin but not limbs. Evolution’s only progressed so far.
You’d have asked at reception or tried to read the check-in book. Easy to say when you weren’t there. We can all be the heroes of other people’s stories.
Did you know the developers put us up in the hotel while they moved us out of our home? No? So, will you let us keep our room on the ledge? Or will you try to sell us a cupboard with a painted sky?
Rosaleen Lynch, an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London, pursues stories whether conversational, literary or performed. Published online and in print, including City of Stories, The Word for Freedom and most recently the Short Édition story dispensers, The London Reader and Jellyfish Review.