At the Pensione


At 11 pm she rang the bell at the front desk in the old pensione. It was situated in an alley flanking the sea. They’d thought the place so sweet and cheery when they’d checked in that morning but now in front of the impossibly bolted door she wasn’t so sure.

“Mi scusi,” she said when the owner appeared in his slippers and robe, “I need to run to my car for some pills. My husband’s not well. Can you open the door for me?”

“I do it, yes,” he said, slowly. “But we closed now. I wait five minutes.” He pronounced it ‘minooots’. “If you not back, you not get in.”

She ran up the hill in the dark toward the car, fuming.”You not get in. You not get in,” she repeated, wheezing. She knew she wouldn’t make it back in five minutes. The car was a kilometer away. If she had to she supposed she could ring the buzzer all night. She would get in. She would get in. She hoped so at any rate.

Fifteen minutes later, back in the alley, she found the door stood barred, the windows blackened, lights switched off. Overhead the moon was dim. In the dark she couldn’t find a buzzer. She began pounding, first with her fist, then with her shoe.

When he opened up again, he stood on the threshold, frowning. “I telled you. Five minoots. You taked much longer. You wake entire hotel.”

“It’s ‘told’ you, ‘minets’ and ‘took’.” She brushed past and up the stairs. A victory, perhaps, but rather small.


Try your hand at the writing prompt “Speech Flavor” from What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter and see what you think.

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