Single Mab spends her Easter birthday in the attic of a boutique hotel. Her sister’s joking gift of a Bunnyhopper sex toy provides some amusement until the batteries run out. Mab’s mad enough to make a wish. Enter Derry; a fairy with a taste for chocolate. Room Service has never been so much fun.
Mab’s allotted room was in the attic, so small the three-quarter bed took up almost all the floor space. The bathroom, a converted broom closet, was mostly shower stall. She’d have to keep her elbows clamped to her sides.
“Hmm,” said Mab. She had her sister’s friend to thank or to blame for this free weekend under the rafters. The way Mab understood it, Frances had won a mystery voucher for Easter weekend.
“She and I can’t use it because it’s for a single,” said Bess. “So—happy birthday, single sister.”
“Cheap bitch,” said Mab. “I don’t like singles holidays.”
“It’s not a singles holiday. It’s just accommodation for one for tonight and tomorrow. Check out Monday.”
“Dunno,” said Bess. “It’s a mystery voucher from a company called Vouch-Safe. You get collected, delivered and brought home.” She handed Mab a gift bag. “Here’s the rest of your presents. Your ride’s due in ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes! You—”
“Pack!” said Bess.
Mab shoved her giggling sister out the door.
She pushed a few necessities into an overnight bag, crammed the gift bag in with them, locked up the flat and hit the street just as a van pulled up outside. Vouch-Safe Mystery Weekends said the lettering. Mab assumed it was the promised ride.
She showed the voucher to the driver, a taciturn woman in her forties, and boarded the van.
It was packed with amorous couples.
Rub it in, won’t you, Mab scolded the universe. These evidently had couples’ vouchers.
The van had fixed cloth curtains, so Mab had no idea where they drove, only that it took a long time. Every so often, the van stopped to disgorge or embark another couple and once a single girl who never raised her eyes from her social media.
It was dark when the van stopped again.
“Voucher eleven,” said the driver, checking it against a passenger manifesto. “Flannigan House Boutique Hotel.”
Mab squeezed past two remaining couples and stepped out into a balmy evening.
Flannigan House Boutique Hotel lorded it over newer, smaller buildings, keeping them at arms’ length via a wide garden.
Mab checked in. “Voucher eleven? You’re in the attic,” said Reception, an efficient woman in her late twenties. “Here’s your key. Dial nine for Reception. No charge for any services. Enjoy your stay.”
Mab hoped the attic was a creative name for a top floor studio. She mounted the creaking stairs, and let herself in with the key. Oh. It was a literal attic.
She glanced at her phone. Eight P.M. She might go out on the town for dinner, but why not order in? It was freeeee!
Mab opened her bag and hung her hastily assembled clothes on the rail provided. She put her toilet bag in the broom closet bathroom. Then she turned her attention to the gift bag from Bess and unpacked her birthday luxuries. Out came a carrot-coloured, rabbit-shaped bottle of body lotion, a gift from her niece. So she’d smell of carrots. Next came a box of six miniature top-of-the-range silver-wrapped Easter eggs from her nephew. Her brother-in-law’s contribution was a mini bottle of genuine Dutch advocaat.
“Hmm,” said Mab. She’d never tasted advocaat, but she knew it was made with eggs. That figured.
The last gift, in discreet brown paper, bore a tiny label proclaiming itself as a Limited Edition Bunnyhopper. Obviously, Bess had ripped off the address label and dumped that one in the gift bag just as it came in the mail. They were all joke gifts, of course. Her family vied to find gifts with a nod to Mab’s Easter birthday. One year it was a live rabbit, living in lettuce and carrot bliss with her amiable ex, from whose sunny yard and devoted care Mab had not had the heart to remove it when their lives diverged two months before.