After hesitating some time and making sure no-one was waiting in the corridor outside, I crept out of the toilets and back to the maids’ room, doing my very best to avoid making eye contact with anyone and keeping my head down low. With every minute that passed, my anxiety dipped a little and slowly I began to sense that I had gotten away with it. Never could I have thought I would be so pleased to return to the maids’ room and my relief was palpable.
The problem was that I had not gotten away with it. Although no-one had been in the corridor, that did not mean I had not been seen.
Back in her office, the manageress was calmly watching the CCTV and had seen Marta exit the toilets. This provoked a wry smile from her. Initially she had wanted to confront whoever it was in the cubicle making such a disgusting scene but then, as always, she spied an opportunity. Ever since she was a little girl, she had known how to manipulate people and this skill had served her particularly well in recent months as she had risen rapidly through the managerial ranks of the company.
The way Marta had slunk back down the corridor had told her all she needed to know. The cleaner was obviously afraid of something and, naturally, that presented a number of options. What had made the sex-hungry little slut so wanton? She rewound the footage to see if she could glean any clues from beforehand. After some minutes of reviewing different cameras, all she had learned was that Marta had tried to get into the locker room and then had quickly made her way into the toilet. Naturally there were no cameras inside such a sensitive room, but it was clear she was the one the manageress has heard pleasuring herself. Picking up her key card and master key, the manageress walked to the locker room to see what she could find out.
Although painfully aware that the manageress had singled me, Marta, out for attention a few times, I had no reason to suspect that her ‘fascination’ towards my maid persona extended any farther than basic curiosity. The day ground on pretty much as before. Any task that could be considered demeaning or difficult came my way and I was hoping that by simply keeping my head down for a few more hours, I would be able to get to my things and start to iron out the wrinkles appearing in my plan. By retreating inside my head - inside of Marta – I found comfort in my situation. This was what I had wanted after all, though perhaps a somewhat softer variant. It was not long before the anxiety generated by the incident in the toilet subsided and I was able to wallow once more in my depraved imagination as I scrubbed another floor clean.
When the clock finally signalled the end of the day, I returned to the locker room to find the door still closed. I felt my insides turn deliciously as I was forced to stand outside waiting for one of the other maids to let me in. That moment of pleasure was short-lived. Images of Katherine ‘locked away’ and out of reach flooded my mind all of a sudden and, by the time a co-worker opened the door, my nerves had built to a fever pitch. I had to get my phone and take back some control of events, lest my ship run aground on the numerous rocks now showing themselves.
I had almost run out of the hotel to find a quiet spot outside. The relief that washed over me as I turned on my phone was indescribably sweet. For a moment, I was reconnecting with my old life. It had only been a single day, but it felt much longer. The almost constant drudgery was not something I had expected. I was supposed to have received a relatively light workload, with plenty of time to myself to keep abreast of events affecting Katherine’s life, as well as indulge myself while pretending to be a maid. Finally, out of my maid’s uniform, I felt a little dignity returned to me, at least for the moment. However, the fact that I stood out like a sore thumb remained obvious.
Passers-by looked at me twice, my dark features and, short frizzy hair marking me out as almost exotic for this part of the world. I did not mind though, my focus was almost exclusively upon my emails, as I skipped from message to message to see what had happened. After almost ten minutes of scanning the screen, I could find nothing. There was no notice of the change of manager and no permission had been sought for the change of conditions affecting Marta.
I winced. This would mean that I would effectively have to ‘grass’ on the manageress for this to be sorted out, something that me as Katherine – let alone Marta – felt increasingly unable to do. What if the argument spiralled out of control and they started trying to urgently contact Katherine? What if Marta’s fake identity somehow unravelled? The knot I seemed almost permanently to be carrying in my stomach tightened. Two weeks. I would just have to put up with this for two weeks. Then I could leave and escape this self-inflicted torture. What else could I do?
I was lost as I trudged my way back into the hotel and towards the door marking out the staff quarters. Nothing felt completely real as I worked my way through the narrow, stuffy corridors to my room. I say my room only to denote where I was staying. There could be no sense of ownership. Perhaps bunk room would have been a better way of describing it. Either way, I was shocked and somewhat appalled when I finally pushed open the door. On either side of the room were double bunk beds. The place felt almost like a military barracks and there was virtually no privacy. The bathroom, a collective of shower cubicles and sinks, was at the end of the corridor.
I placed my things on the only empty bed in the room. I gazed around at the other girls I would be sharing the staff quarters with. None of them paid me the slightest bit of attention, which I welcomed at this point. They were all hurrying off somewhere else, eager to escape this claustrophobic, cramped, stuffy little box. The smell of bodies, while not particularly pungent, was intense and hit you like a wall as you entered the room. Everyone seemed embarrassed to be there. Apart from two girls murmuring in hushed tones, the room was quiet, everyone avoiding eye contact and rushing to go anywhere else but here.
I felt sicker and sicker as the gravity of situation became increasingly apparent. As my skin dyes faded and the hair wash slowly rinsed away, my actual tones and colouring would appear, perhaps in as little as a week. I slumped down onto the bed and stared ahead vacantly. I was not excited at all. All my lurid ‘desires’ were now buried beneath a growing realisation that, while this was not my life in the longer-term, it would be for the next fortnight and there seemed little I could do to confront that reality. I would have to summon up some kind of solution for my hair and skin. I breathed in and out in deep extended motions, just like my – Katherine’s - expensive yoga coach had taught me. I was feeling like a scared little mouse. My submissive nature was one thing but, increasingly, I felt my ruin would be my cowardice, another personality trait hidden by years of privilege and cossetting.
I grew increasingly resentful of the girls sharing my room. “Just get out!” I wanted to shout at them, as I ached for some privacy. But Marta would never do that, she – I – was a little mouse. The best I could have commanded at that moment was a squeak. It took almost an hour for the last one to leave and, finally, I was left alone on my bunk. I had work to do. I took my phone and started looking for answers to my various problems.
The manageress shut the door to her office, locking it behind her. She was also lost in her thoughts. Normally this would have concerned some pressing financial or managerial matter, but today she could not get Marta out of her head. She had not found anything out of the ordinary in the locker room, nor in Marta’s locker itself. The master key – actually a bunch of keys – gave her access to any lock in the hotel. She was entitled to use it under certain circumstances, though spying on staff was surely not one. She shrugged off her touch of guilt, provoking a small smile. All she had found was an expensive phone and hair dye. She had been too nervous to look further, fearful that a maid may have come in and discovered her.
However, she remained convinced that Marta was hiding something. Perhaps it was nothing more than a patch of grey hair? That too made her smile: thinking of the girl deprived of her dyes and turning grey. Still, her behaviour had been strange, to say the least, and her curiosity had been piqued. In her arms she was carrying the maid’s file. She wanted to see if anything from her past might be a cause for alarm. Was she a spy from head office? Perhaps it would be better to simply confront her, one-on-one? The options swirled around her head as she slid herself into her expensive car. If Katherine saw her now, she could have, quite reasonably, ask how a new manageress could afford such a high-end vehicle. Or, if she saw the woman's impressive bank statement or been to her home, she could have asked how she had managed to squirrel away quite so much money or paid for such a large apartment in the most expensive part of town. Of course, none of these would have been a concern for a simple girl like Marta, even as many of the answers to the above questions could prove highly discomforting.