A story of abandonment - Written for the Smiling Skies Personification Contest (2019)
|Once, long ago, I was a grand beauty. The rich and powerful clamored to spend even one night with me, and everyone knew my name. My elegance was known far and wide, the opulence of my countenance a marvel to behold. I knew I was desirable, and the endless stream of admirers served only to remind me of this fact. The blue-collar workers would pass by me every morning on their way to the factories, and again on their way home as the sun went down, each time pausing to gaze longingly at me. They knew I was too far above their station, just across the street but still impossible to obtain by their meager means. They knew they would never have anything so beautiful as I for themselves. Still, they loved to look, to dream. And who was I to blame them for their wishing? I only pitied them, for I knew what dreams I inspired in the minds of small men.
My existence was a Utopian epoch of bacchanalias that would have shamed the very height of Roman society, basking in the adoration of those who could afford my company. They loved me, and I loved the life that had been created around me. In those moments, with the lamplight illuminating my perfection in a gilded glow while dancers spun and sang across my marbled floors, it seemed the jubilation would never end. I never wanted it to end.
But time is cruel, and even I eventually began to feel its pressure upon my proud brow. The admirers, while still quite enamored of me, began to show up less and less, their visits with me growing shorter and shorter. There was a shift in the caliber of station among their ranks. Where once only the elite and well-bred dared step through my door, it soon became evident that the nouveau-riche considered themselves entitled to partake of my grandeur as well. But all the money in this ugly world cannot buy breeding, and I was sickened by the new parade of classless curs who thought they would impress with their gaudy flaunting of wealth. They were nothing of the gentlemen and the ladies who had once graced my halls. They were not what I knew my father, my maker, had wished for me.
Then there came a day when even those undesirables ceased their attentions on me. My inner sanctuary fell silent and still, while outside the world became a place I no longer recognized; I was alone. For the first time I knew what it meant to be unwanted but was powerless against the reality of it. Age had worn me down to but a relic of a golden age long past, as much as it pained me to admit that. The shining times I had known and gloried in had faded to grey memories along with the formerly rich upholstery in my grandest salon. There were no more parties, no more revelers, no more admirers boasting of their nights with me. I had been abandoned.
I do not know how long I languished in anonymity, my beauty now lost on any who passed by me on the street. No one stopped to gaze at me in awe anymore. I was invisible, grey, and sad.
In my deepest moment of despair, I was stirred from my depths by an unexpected visitor. He was aged and stooped as I had become, the weight of years bowing thin and frail shoulders as he sat quietly with me and simply looked. I could see by the shine in his watery eyes that he remembered what I had been - he had loved me once, when both of us were in our primes, when the world lay at our feet and every day was a feast of the senses. He looked at me in that moment like not a day had passed since then, like I was still the unmatched beauty he had boasted of in faraway lands to any who would listen. I felt myself uplifted. This man was my father, and he knew better than any other the majesty that once had been mine. Had he returned to restore me to my former self? That together we might recreate the glittering world we had called ours so long ago? Perhaps there was hope for us yet!
In my desperate need to relive my days of splendor, I failed to see the truth of my father’s return. His shoes were falling apart, filled with holes and barely clinging to his trembling feet. The cold of late December had chased him through my frost-rimed door, biting through a jacket that perhaps, once, had been quite expensive wool but now was only thinned and fraying. His body was only hollow bones wrapped in pale, translucent skin. My father had been a towering man of robust vitality, with a big voice, a bigger laugh, and an impeccable sense of style. I often mused, when our parties were in full swing, that many of my admirers likely came as much to see him as they did to see me. He had been magnetic, proud, and charismatic. But there was no trace of that remaining in the shivering creature before me. The unrelenting march of years had been just as unkind to him as it had been to me. I could see that clearly now.
My heart was filled with sadness, but also with love and appreciation for the man who had made me what I was, even if all of that had fallen away. If we both were lost in the shadow of history’s memory, at least we would be lost together, and my gratitude for the love and pride he had always shown in me would never falter. This was my new purpose. I would not let him down.
As he lay on the floor of my once-famous grand ballroom, now only a crumbling ruin of decay, I watched him smile wistfully. In the ringing silence he gave me one last lingering look full of love before he closed his eyes, never to open them again.
He had come home, and I was naught but a magnificent tomb.
(Item selected for personification: hotel)
(Word Count: 1,033)