Wednesday 16 May 2012

'A Change of Fortune' by Pat Caldwell

Delia’s eyes swept the dining room. Everything was in place. Glasses and cutlery gleamed in
the morning sun and the smell of freesia wafted through the air. She picked up one of the little
favours from the table. “This wedding will be the best ever seen here,” she thought and moved
across to check the champagne that was cooling ready for the first guests.
She smiled proudly as she always did when she admired the finished room.
“Delia, what a surprise to see you!” The junior manager appeared, dressed in formal wear for
the coming event. “Your job is done now, everything is perfect and we have a team of young
people ready to take over.”
Delia straightened her shoulders. She never took liberties with her superiors.”I just like to make
sure that nothing has been missed, young Mr Sullivan,” she said and refolded a napkin.
“After twenty five years I know it is perfect,” he said placing an arm gently on her shoulder.
Twenty five years, where had all that time gone? Who was that shy young girl who jumped at the
chance to chambermaid in the big hotel in town? Having slaved for her over bearing father since
she was twelve, this was a dawdle. And, they were paying her to do it!
Delia smiled remembering the early nights in her own little room on the fourth floor; the first
place in her life where no one could barge in to criticise or push her around.
So efficient was she that promotion to front of house came quickly. She recalled how proud she
had felt when she was asked for advice on the best shops nearby or the latest show to book for.
The perfectly ironed uniform and polished shoes were as fresh today as they had been twenty
five years ago.
She touched her soft, unlined skin. The little make up and the subtle rinse she put in her hair
emphasized her beautiful brown eyes.
Delia took a sharp breath. Retirement at forty five, was she ready?”It’s for the best,” they said
How would she cope?
The clock chimed midday and it was time to move. With one last glance around the room, Delia
walked across the foyer and slipped out the side door without saying a word. No one noticed the
slight, middle aged woman skipping down the steps and merging into the lunch time crowd.
At two o’clock the limousine drew up at the hotel and the driver opened the door. There was
a ripple of applause from the staff who had gathered as Delia stepped out. “Please show Mr
Sullivan Snr and his new bride Delia to the function room,” said young Mr Sullivan with a grin
from ear to ear.
“It’s time for us to look after you Delia,” whispered her new husband, guiding her up the steps
to her new life as Mrs Sullivan, co owner of the Carlton Majestic.

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