All the guests are in their rooms. Some are sleeping, some are dreaming, some are not. I feel their consciousness pressing in on me, a blanket of restless energy adding its weight to my own restless body. Too many minds in one place, too many waking dreams.
Out in the hallway it’s bright and silent. The guests are in their rooms, but the ghosts of their presence walk the halls, invisible feet treading on the patterned carpet, going nowhere, seeking nothing. Under the bright yellow lights they pace.
It’s dark in our room, the heavy curtains pulled shut across the window. Light comes in through the crack of the heavy door, in and under, carrying the voices of the ghosts. I lay under the covers and watch my grandmother pack. She’s quiet, rummaging around in the dark, trying not to wake me. But I’ve been up all night, in some way or another, waiting for this moment. Waiting for the first piece of my family, so recently put back in place, to fall away again. She sees that I’m awake and she hugs me and then opens the door as quietly as she can, light spilling into the sleepless room. It closes behind her with a deafening click, and my body lays there listening to the silence of goodbye.
My ghost follows her down the hall. My high-heeled feet match my grandmother’s slow steps, the dress I wore the night before swishing around my knees. I watch her turquoise suitcase trail behind her like a puppy nipping at her heels. Driving her on toward her next adventure, packed with all the things that get to go along. Too small for me to fit.
The other ghosts of the other guests watch us with interest. They back away into the paneled walls, they watch from the lights in the ceiling, they lay themselves flat on the patterned floor. They remain motionless, in deference to the one presence that’s solid and the one that isn’t but wishes it was.
The bright bulbs light my grandmother’s way, taking her to the elevator, ushering her inside. All the other ghosts go back to their pacing, their restless wandering, and I stand there staring after the closed elevator doors, after my grandma. These hallways with their bright lights and paneled walls and patterned carpet, I hate them for leading her away from me.
My ghost returns to the room through the crack in the door, in and under, I hear its voice, feel its weight sink into me, pulling me finally to sleep. Beneath my heavy eyelids I can still see the bright bulbs in the hallway, relentless and proud, lighting the halls for no one but the ghosts.