Short Story: Upturn Chapter 6

Carla Manors, the manager of White Inn in Star City, was not known for having a short fuse. Nevertheless, when her only breakfast attendant was over a half hour past due to come back from her break on the busiest days of the week, she was getting a little snippy. The girl was good, Carla had to admit- she could probably run the continental breakfast by herself even on a busy day like today- but Carla just didn’t have the attention right now to focus on making coffee and refilling bagels. She had more important things to focus on, like running a hotel. Things she would be sure to remind her employee of while she decided whether said employee would continue to be employed at White Inn.

Finally, Carla had had enough. Calling over Tanika, who was supposed to be helping with check-outs, she went hunting. As she approached the small employee lounge, Manors found a half-crumpled newspaper on the floor. She picked it up, and glanced at the headlines. Apparently, a military defector had carved up a bunch of Royal Guard, and then went on to be implicated in the firebombing of a precinct in Temple City. Temple was retaliating by attempting to round up any of the young man’s friends that they could tie to illegal activities. Attempting being the key word, if the side article about an officer being locked in his own car was any indication.

Carla stormed into the lounge- and found it empty. Following a hunch as she turned to leave, she took the first door on the left: the employees’ women’s restroom. Sure enough, she heard a familiar voice sobbing in one of the stalls. She got herself into position before saying the girl’s name.

The sobs stopped for a moment. “Oh, Carla, I’m so sorry” came the meager response a second later, and then the crying commenced. “I’ll…I’ll.” The girl, barely out of her teens, didn’t seem able to compose herself long enough to say that she would go back to work, never mind do so.

Carla glanced at the paper again. Reward, the word jumped out of the article. “Ali,” she said, softly this time. “It’s okay.”

“You don’t understand,” Ali sobbed. “It’s all my fault.”

The manager almost doubted her intuition for a moment, but she went with her gut. “No, it isn’t. Whatever part you had in what happened, that was your part. It’s not all one person’s fault.”

After another thirty minutes, Carla managed to coax her employee back to work.

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