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Fiction

Georgiana sat in the foyer in tears. She had made it all the way through the funeral without losing control. Now, alone in her aunt’s home, she let the tears fall. She cried for all the beautiful memories she had with her aunt. She cried for the loss of her closest relative, the person who understood her most in the world. 

The lawyer Aunt Eve had only half tolerated in life had handed Georgiana the keys to this house and a letter after the funeral. He said everything should be explained in the letter, though he had never read it. Eve had instructed him to give it to Georgiana alone, then wait for her response within the week. He gave her his card then hurried away, as if he was expecting her to argue or demand more of an explanation. She wouldn’t of course, Aunt Eve’s word could never be challenged. 

Staring at the letter in her hands, Georgiana wasn’t sure if she was ready to read the very last words her beloved Aunt would ever write to her. Her heart ached at the thought of never receiving Eve’s perfectly timed advice again. Who would help her through the hard times? Who would answer those late night phone calls? Georgiana could not imagine a life without her Aunt, she was so important, so necessary. Without her, Georgiana was lost. 

Aunt Eve would have wanted her to read this letter, that much Georgiana knew for certain. She could not put this off any longer. After a deep breath, Georgiana unfolded the paper and began to read.

****

My dearest Georgiana,

My favorite niece, I hope this letter finds you well, or at least in a better state than myself. As you should know by now, unless my lawyer is even more incompetent than he looks, I am dead. In my will, I have left you $500,000 under the condition that you resume care of my home. I want to explain this condition to you in greater detail, so that you may understand the importance of what I am asking you.

You may remember that I came into ownership of this house in the same way, my aunt willed it to me along with $100,000, which in those days was a life changing amount of money. I, like you, was a single woman without any family ties to keep me in one place. My darling husband, bless his soul, had died in the Great War before we could have any children. I simply could not resist my aunt’s offer of a fortune and a grand home all to myself. At least, I thought at the time I would have the house to myself.

Once the paperwork was finalized and I moved in, I found out straightaway why my aunt had demanded care of her home. You see Dearest, this is not just a home, it is a hotel. A hotel for spirits actually, or as I like to call it, The Spiritual Retreat. This is a place where the spirits who walk among us can take a vacation from their usual “haunts”, if you will, and take a break from the tedium of the afterlife. You see, the daily life of a ghost can become quite tedious, almost no alive people can see or hear them, their ghost family can be just as tiresome as they were in life, and watching over alive loved ones is a difficult full-time job. Spirits deserve a vacation here and there just as much as the living!

Now I don’t want you to feel any fear of our clientele. Each spirit must submit an application before they are accepted as guests. They must be able to show at least 5 good deeds they committed in life, or afterlife if they could manage it, and pass a rigorous background check. We never accept any evil spirits, criminals, or vengeful ghosts, no matter how justified their crimes may seem. Think of The Spiritual Retreat as a reward for a life well lived. You will have the final say in who gets to vacation on the premise, you can reject anyone who makes you uncomfortable. In all my years of hosting, I have never been afraid of any guest. Well, except James Dean, but that was all in good fun.

There are some rules of the hotel you must follow. First, NEVER let Elizabeth Taylor back into this hotel! After her antics during her last stay, she has a full afterlife-time ban from the establishment. I do not like that woman. Second, we never charge any kind of payment from our guests. This is a true retreat, they need not pay for anything. That being said, there will certainly be times where a guest will pay anyway. In those cases, humbly accept payment and be sure to thank them at least 3 times. Much of your $500,000 came to me from Teddy Roosevelt, who enjoyed his stay so much, he brought me a diamond and ruby necklace his descendants had forgotten in one of their attics. The most important rule I have for you is this: learn about each guest and meet their needs as best you can. Remember, though they may not be alive anymore, these are still good people who deserve respect and kindness, you must treat each one as an old friend. There may come times when you need help from the otherside, and believe me, you will want your guests’ support then.

Running this hotel is not all rules and hard work. Let me leave you with my favorite memory at the hotel. It was my birthday in 1946. The year had been a busy one, with many poor soldiers coming to stay to get away from the heavy grief of their loved ones. It had been so busy in fact that I did not realize it was my birthday until my husband surprised me in the kitchen with my favorite cake! My aunt, who had come back to help me at the hotel that year (I told you you may need help from the otherside at times), booked him in without my knowledge to surprise me. He and I talked for hours, reminiscing on all the good times we had in our short marriage, then he took me into the ballroom, where all the guests had gathered to throw me a surprise party. Everyone danced and sang and made merry until late into the night. Amelia Earhart was there, regaling everyone with the harrowing tale of her last flight (I’ll let her tell you that story). Even Queen Victoria, my hands-down favorite bridge partner, stopped by to wish me a happy birthday. It was the most wonderful party we ever had. The next morning, all of the guests checked out early, so moved were they by my husband’s and my love, they were desperate to get back to their own loved ones. It was the most heartwarming event I had ever witnessed. 

Georgiana it is my wish that you will take great care of my home for the rest of your life, though I understand if this is not something you want to take on. For me, running this hotel gave me the most exciting, illuminating, and fulfilling life I could hope for. I hope it does the same for you. If you are not willing to take on this position, please tell my lawyer, he will give the opportunity to my second choice. If you are willing to take over my home, I will be happily waiting for you at the front desk! Don’t worry, I will teach you everything you need to know before I join my husband on our trek around the world.

With Undying Love,

Your Aunt Eve

****

Georgiana read the letter twice, then a third time. Behind her, she heard her Aunt say “So, What do you think?”

April 21, 2023 17:06

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8 comments

Darya Silman
06:56 Apr 24, 2023

Oh I want to read further! The abrupt end left me wondering if Georgiana accepted the offer and what her reaction was. The story would win if you continue and deepen it. Best wishes in writing!

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Ashley Elizabeth
15:11 Apr 24, 2023

Thank you for your kind words! Maybe I will continue the series of Georgiana's ups-and-downs of running the hotel. In my mind, she agreed to continue the legacy and works alongside her Aunt for a few years.

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Linda Mello
17:21 Apr 23, 2023

I like how you intermixed the characters. I thought this story would make a good full length book. As usual, I look forward to reading more of your posted stories. You kept my interest throughout the story and that is what is important to me, as a reader.

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00:30 Apr 30, 2023

This is fun with endless possibilities!

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07:28 Apr 29, 2023

Oh, I absolutely ADORE this concept! I would love to read a full-length book about it, it would be so fascinating, fun, and right up my alley. This was really well written, great job!

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Dada David
07:01 Apr 29, 2023

Wow. I love the story. Now am wondering Georgiana's reaction after hearing her aunt's voice. Lol Nice ending.

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RiRi Adanna
00:26 May 18, 2023

you are so good at writng(and you know how to leave a cliffhanger)Great job!

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Mary Bendickson
00:52 May 01, 2023

Of course, she will run the hotel and we will be treated to more short stories ( maybe a book of short stories) about the guests that visit:)

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