“But Nana, why do we have to stay in room 3C? Anyone who knows anything about hotel rooms knows not to sleep on the 3rd floor,” I complained on a cool, warm day in March.

“We’re only staying one night, and ‘anyone who knows anything about hotel rooms knows you die on the second night’,” Nana mimicked.

“I never said that.” Sheesh. Thirty minutes from the orphanage and I hated her already.

“You wanna go back to the orphanage?” Nana yelled in my face.

“NO!” I pleaded. “Please, you don’t know what it’s like back there,” and she didn’t. A twelve foot fence with razor wire surrounded the “home”—a big stone building with microphones and cameras everywhere. It was awful.

“Then shut your mouth.” The yelling continued as Nana pulled open the door to bedroom 3C.

Bedroom 3C was the most luxurious place I had ever seen. The wallpaper had a green background with little doves on it. The room had…

“Arrrrugh,” yelled Nana, interrupting my thoughts. “I hate to say it but you were right warnin’ me not to stay on the 3rd floor. This place is an old-fashioned dump. Stay right here. I’ll be back.” With that she disappeared with the slam of the door.

I sat on one of the beds. I thought about running away. The police would catch me though, and I’d be sent back to Nana, who’d send me back to the orphanage. I tried not to think about that horrible place they call an orphanage, with its… “Stop thinking about the orphanage,” I told myself. So I thought about doing something mean like locking the door so Nana couldn’t get back in.

I looked up. The white doves on the wallpaper were peeling – one by one – off the wallpaper. The doves were an omen.


The doves were an omen all right, but for what? I tried to think about doves. Doves meant peace. I looked up and saw the doves flying out the window. Was the peace leaving? Was war coming? It made sense at least.

I watched the last of the doves fly out the window. Now that the doves were gone, I could clearly see the background on the wallpaper. It was olive green, with a tree in paler green. The tree had buds on it. Weird.

If the wallpaper predicted the future through omens, why was it showing war through the doves leaving, and new life through the buds on the tree. Light dawned on me. Either the war omen didn’t mean war, or the new life omen didn’t mean new life.

The door flew open, and Nana burst in gleefully yelling. She was obviously in a much better mood. “The snow is gone,” she yelled. “Spring is here. See, the doves from the wallpaper grew up and flew away. There are buds on the tree in the wall paper.” She pointed out the window. “The snow is gone. Winter is gone. Spring is here. Long live spring! Long live new life!” At this point she was jumping up and down. I just stared at her. Had she read my mind? Maybe she had.

The next day when we were checking out I noticed a tag on Nana’s suitcase:

Belinda Bailey
Hotel Critic/Magician/Mind Reader

Life was going to be fun living with a magician.

All finished? Continue on the Shufflenet Road Trip!