Heartbreak Hotel

Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell,
It's down at the end of Lonely Street,
Called Heartbreak Hotel.

"Welcome to Heartbreak Hotel, for all your heart-mending needs. How can I help you today?"
I've said these words so many times I feel almost like a robot when I say them. I look up from my computer to see the poor soul who managed to find his way here.
He's an older fellow, graying hair, shabby clothes, and  glasses slowing tearing down the middle. The elbow patches on his jacket are frayed, and his eyes are so red, like he's been crying for days. The good ol' starving writer. See them all the time here.
"Yes. I-I would like to stay, please." I can barely hear the guy. I nod my head.
"Name, please?" I ask.
"Dr. S-Sean Carlson." He says softly. I type up his name in the computer, searching for open rooms in the Men's Section of the Hotel.
"What's your age?"
"34."
The computer makes its bizarre beeping noise, saying it found a room. 
"Okay, Dr. Carlson. We have a room for you on the fourth floor of the Men's section. Room 421." I say, handing him his key. He mumbles a quiet 'thank you'. "Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served everyday in the cafetiere, or if you can ask it to be carried to your room if you just call down." I say. He reaches for his wallet, and I hold out my hand. "No, no sir." I say, smiling. "We don't accept payment until after you have healed. For now, just worry about yourself." I say. He nods.
"Everything is going to be all right." I say. I can almost swear he mutters, "Yeah right." As he walks away. Poor guy. I sigh and turn back to my computer. His heart must have been ripped out of his chest. He seems like a nice guy. Of course, round these parts, everyone feels like Dr. Sean Carlson. Heart broken, taken advantage of, alone, depressed, looking for an answer. Then they find us.
Heartbreak Hotel. For all your heart mending needs.
***
I've worked here for a while. Five years since I left this I left this place. It's really not this bad, if you work here. Sure, there's basically depressed people everywhere and it's one of the most depressing things on this planet to listen to the tale of woe from each and every customer, but the pay is good, great food, and I don't have to worry about taxes or anything like that because, according to them, I don't exist. 
Heartbreak Hotel essentially doesn't exist. 

We appear at the end of every lonely street, and that depends on the person. Whenever they walk by themselves, depressed, just broke up or got divorced, and feeling like the loneliest thing in the universe, we show up at the end of the block. Don't ask me how, it's something about the brains and magic and then the managers tell us some logical explanation that everybody knows is a lie. As if things suddenly appearing is explained by science.

We get everybody from everywhere here. We got melodramatic teenagers, lonely college types like myself, depressed middle aged people, and seniors ready to give up. All sorts of ethnicity come to mourn their losses together. Everyone has a different story. We let them cry out all their tears and when the time is right, we help them move on.

We have different outlets in all different parts of the world. Once a year, we all meet together and it's a big party. We are sort of like a company, but instead of getting paid, we get food, bed, entertainment, Internet, everything.  Why would we want to leave?

***

Today I am on CWHM leading duty. We get at least 20 people in the hotel to attend at different times, and I get to meet all of them eventually today. Woo-hoo. That was supposed to be sarcastic.

 This is the most depressing duty of the whole job. This is when I get to hear every girl's sob story about how the love of her life left her for someone younger, prettier, thinner, smarter, richer, and so on. I've heard them all. I swear, by the end I am about to burst into tears. I hate this part of the job.

I put on the biggest smile I can muster when the girls start filing in. It's not required to attend, so in total, I only get about 15 people. 

"Welcome to your first Coping with Heartache Meeting!" I say. "This is when the staff at Heartbreak Hotel helps you to accept what has happened, and how to move on and meet the true love of your life." 

"Kevin was my true love!" One young girl says, sobbing into her hands. A middle aged woman next to her puts her arm around her.

"What's your name?" I ask, bending dow to her eye level.

"M-Maddie." She says in between heaving breaths.

"Well, Maddie, why don't you go first?" I suggest. "Tell us what happened between you and Kevin. From the beginning."
***

"...And that's when he took all of furniture and money and I woke up in the house alone."

I smile sadly at Susan and hand her a tissue. She blows her runny nose into it.

"Did anyone not get to go?" I ask the crowd. Everyone shakes their heads. I glass at my watch.

"All right, that's it for today. Lunch is in Ten minutes. Thank you, everyone." I say. The people stand up and start walking out the door. I turn to grab all of my papers and pamphlets when I heard two of the ladies talking.

"If we're all here because our hearts are broken, what's with the people working here?" One of them asks quietly.

The other woman glances quickly in my direction before whispering, "I heard it's because their hearts can never be healed."

They walk out and I suck in a deep breath. I can never get over it when people say that. I shove all the spare pamphlets about the other classes and seminars into my bag before I stroll out the door, turn right into the EMPLOYEES ONLY hallway, and take the elevator up to the sixteenth floor. My floor. 

I manage to make it across the hallway and into my room before the tears flow. I start sobbing hopelessly, throwing my bag onto the floor and flopping on my bed. I bury myself  in my pillow.

Their hearts can never be healed...


Their hearts can never be healed...


Their hearts can never be healed...


Their hearts will never be healed...



I lift my eyes to see the glass photo frame of me and Mark, on our first anniversary together. We looked so happy in that picture. I still have my ring, even. It's locked away in the drawer, along with every other photo of him, every single piece of jewelry he gave me, and all the letters he wrote while he was overseas. I think I still have chocolate wrappers in there. The next picture is us on our wedding, me in my white dress, him in uniform. His comrades hold up their swords, allowing us to pass under. I look at the old me, and that true smile on my face, next to him. 

Why did things have to end like this?

And right next to the photos, is the one letter that brought all of this. 

Dear Mrs. Langster,

We regret to inform you that your husband, Mark Langster, has died in battle for his country....





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