She sat, staring at the computer screen, willing it to work. Her mind was a blank. Literally, since the incident. Now, alone in her room, it was up to her to figure things out. Everything. How does this device work?
No one knew where Paige had been for the past week, but when she returned to the boarding house, clean, rested, well dressed, and made up as if for a big night out, everyone assumed she'd gone to a spa and had a makeover of some kind.
Of the seven people living there, only Mrs. Winchell, the boarding house owner, harbored doubts.
"Have you ever seen Paige look so nice? She's stunning!" she said to Kit, the boarder in the room across from Paige.
"Exactly!" Kit was young and attractive herself, and had often encouraged Paige to take more effort over her appearance. "She finally went out and did something just for her. Or maybe not just for her." Kit's eyebrows waggled over her coffee cup.
"It doesn't take a week to buy some clothes and put on a little make up," countered Mrs. Winchell.
Kit shrugged. "Coulda been a resort trip. A prize or something!" Kit rose to put her cup on the sideboard. She was quickly bored when the conversation wasn't about her. She left for the day, leaving Mrs. Winchell alone with her thoughts.
It was the eyes. Running a boarding house for the past ten years, Mrs. Winchell had learned how to read people. Paige had kind, innocent eyes and was staying here while she started her new job in town. Just until she saved enough for her own place, she'd said. But since her return two days ago, her eyes looked dead. There was no emotion in them, even when she smiled in her polite "Good morning, Mrs. Winchell," way.
Up in her room, Paige walked away from the device she couldn't remember. She knew her routine and had to go to work. There was a place. It was in her memory. She knew she needed to go there. She didn't remember why. Maybe someone there would tell her. She walked downstairs with her immaculately made-up face and stylish business clothes.
At the foot of the stairs, she turned into the front room toward Mrs. Winchell. "Good morning, Mrs. Winchell," she said with a dead smile.
Mrs. Winchell gave a skeptical nod. "'Morning to you, Paige. Off to work?"
"Yes, work. Good-bye!" Paige kept the same dead smile as she turned to leave with stiff steps.
"Like a robot, now," muttered Mrs. Winchell as she started clearing away the morning's coffee service. Something had happened to Paige, and no one, including Paige, seemed to know what it was.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.