Friday, 30 January 2015

CLEANER II: Chapter Two - Part Two


My first impulse after the former Dahlia left what had suddenly become my room was to call the room service number again and order a big steak dinner with a lavish dessert but I had resisted. It was the old me who teetered always on the brink of despair from which excessive eating provided a welcome and necessary release.

The new me was going to be strong. The new me was going to be my own creation. I didn’t aspire to be the same as the... former Dahlia. After all, she was a sorry individual really, twisted up inside and desperate for release from her own demons. I planned to design my new persona almost from scratch. Yes, I had taken her name and her money but the new me was going to be superior to the old her.

I hadn’t yet decided on the spectrum of qualities I was going to develop in this new purloined life but there was plenty of time for that. I had all the time in the world and no stinking menial job to do; no nasty husband to run me down.

I was so happy. I hadn’t been so happy in living memory.

Instead of the huge meal my weaker self wanted I chomped down the salad my... employee had had sent up. Again, it wasn’t that bad once I got into it. The feeling of virtuousness countered the lack of strong flavour.

With that done I went down to the foyer and spoke to the concierge. With a generous incentive she was more than happy to make a booking for me at another hotel on the east coast. It was a five star hotel and the room was reassuringly expensive. It was actually obscenely overpriced. Or just-enough-priced. I grinned to imagine it. I didn’t know if she was confused by my change of appearance but she didn’t question me and we would be gone in no time.

I wondered for a moment what to do about Dahli— No. Melissa now. I was Dahlia.

I wondered what to do about Dahlia’s accommodation but then the kind of thing I wanted came to me and I made a few enquiries with the concierge. Once she understood what I was after – and she did seem perplexed by it – she brightened and did a series of internet searches until she’d found something that matched what I wanted.

That made me grin even more.

I asked her to make the booking and order a taxi to take us then gave her a liberal tip, enjoying the slapdash frivolousness of throwing away the money. When I broke off I sent Melissa a text, telling her to meet me an hour later.

I spent that hour coating around the hotel, enjoying the idea that this was me now. I wasn’t my old self anymore. I was this new person; this new Dahlia. Everything seemed possible to me: the weight loss; that I could stay this way for a long time. That happiness was becoming a deep maturing contentment. I couldn’t imagine really feeling this good day after day but why wouldn’t I? As long as the new Melissa went along with her side of things then I could go on enjoying mine.

And it had been so delicious to put her in her place; tell her straight who was the boss now. That had been the best moment of my life thus far. I could imagine her trying to break this all off and me telling her no. I pictured myself standing with my arms folded while she begged to swap back, telling her not a chance; that she was the cleaner now. I was the rich woman. I imagined her hanging her head and going along with it.

I really wanted that to happen so that I could enjoy it for real.

But that would have to wait for another day. I really didn’t think she would let me bully her that far and there was no sense in rocking such a precariously balanced boat.

When the hour was up I had a porter bring my luggage downstairs. The new Melissa was already waiting with the battered old suitcase she’d inherited from me.

She looked remarkable in her banality; more distant and diminished now than she had up in the room. She’d obviously had time to think and the new identity was closing its grip around her. She looked nothing like her old self now. I didn’t think her own brother would have recognised her, though of course, he was dead.

“Hello Melissa,” I said, underscoring her new name.

Hearing it had an effect on her and colour rose to her cheeks, her eyes quivering. “Hello... Miss Western.”

“Are you ready to go?”

She nodded. “Yes miss.”

“Good.” I strode past her. The taxi was pulling up outside. “Hurry up then. I want to get there quickly and the taxi will have to drop you off at your accommodation first.”

The new Melissa stopped hurrying after me when she heard that and stared after me, her face befuddled. “My accommodation?”

“Yes,” I said. “You didn’t think you’d be staying at a posh hotel did you? That would hardly be appropriate.” 


  1. does the suite have a pull out sofa? new melissa could sleep curled up on the floor, like a loyal dog. I took it too far, or did I?

  2. Now we are all intrigued what this 'new accommodation' for former Dahlia is going to be.
    It seems it would it be outside the 5star hotel.
    Will she start working as well?
    You added questions in this chapter Emma which is good for our story
    Monica G

    1. Well question posing is what Emmas do best!

  3. Typically teasing us to wait; i thought the orig D would be in the hotel's maids' quarters, but it would seem not.

    I'm pleased that, at least for the moment, you've managed to make up with your metamorphoses muse; must be the Greek island air.

    1. I'm a great Ovid fan actually. My favourite story was Io being turned into a cow... not sure why.

    2. I'm also an Ovid fan but I actually prefer the Professor's other stories. Pity he seems not to be writing these days. The genre is lacking some very good writers of fiction that isn't merely a fuck-fest. Luckily, there are a few good writers around like say errr ... Emma Finn for example?

      I edited a series of stories by Kelly Davidson about a place not unlike Ovid called Andersonville. The premise was somewhat different but people were transformed by ancient gods. I look back at them now and I only know I was the editor because it says so. I remember almost nothing - old age, I guess.

      More to the point, it looks more and more that the original Melissa is beginning to show her true vindictive nature as the new Melissa is about to discover in her mysterious new accommodation. It can't be too far from the 5* establishment where her new employer will be enjoying the luxury or she won't be readily to hand to exercise her new (exciting?) duties.

      Robyn H (not my old editing name btw)

    3. I actually meant the classic poet who wrote the book Metamorphoses (which is worth a read if you like transfo stories.

      Yeah. It looks like Melissa's nasty streak may be showing itself more overtly.

    4. Ah, showing my lack of a classical education despite having attended a grammar school. The only story called Metamorphosis I know is the one by Kafka which IIRC involved being turned into a monstrous insect. Not the same thing at all ... or is it? LOL

      Robyn H (feeling slightly ashamed)

    5. I only know about it because I stumbled on it. It's worth ordering on Amazon. There are hundreds of little stories in, many of which are into animals, but not all.

  4. It's a massively greater degradation than Dahlia - not even able to speak - but then io, unlike D, did not choose it.

    1. Yeah. And doesn't Zeus change her to hide the fact he had an affair with her? That sly old dog!

  5. He did indeed.

    When I wrote 'metamorphoses muse' above, I merely meant the muse who inspired your brilliant stories (but seemed, briefly, to have got out of contact with *Cleaner*). The same muse inspired Ovid and Kafka but such stories may contain any significant change of form; it doesn't need to be people into animals (or insects) and both Dahlia and Melissa are now, rather rapidly, going through profound changes of both psychological and physical form. The fascinating thing is that it is through their own will and wholly by their own efforts with no help from magic or gods.

    1. Yeah. The idea of two people actually jumping off that transformative cliff together is actually pretty amazing if it really happened.