From American Fiction 16 – third place winning story.
Natsuku lingered in Henry Fischer’s hotel suite making minor touch-ups, rearranging the pillows and re-folding the towels. Though she serviced the other rooms on her floors with a detached boredom, his demanded her purest attention. She needed this to feel like home for him, a comforting sanctuary in a metropolis full of constant reminders of the ways in which he didn’t belong. She supposed it was some maternal instinct kicking in, this compulsion to coddle a full-grown man, stronger and wealthier than she could possibly imagine.
She strived for small perfections, like moving the television remote to the endtable next to the sofa where Henry liked to stretch out and watch ESPN, or making sure there was extra Stevia next to the tea cups. She brushed away the few specks of dust that sullied the framed photo of his two young daughters and turned the other picture so that the laser gaze of his wife’s eyes would settle on the neon twinkle of the Tokyo cityscape outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. He played baseball, a superstar in America who had garnered ecstatic headlines on the sports page when the Yomiuri Giants signed him in spite of the insinuations of chemical enhancement that kept the teams in his own country from offering him a contract. Sometimes he liked to stay up late answering fan mail and signing autographs, so she made sure the desk drawer remained stocked with fresh ballpoint pens and Sharpies she swiped from her boss’ office.
One of the other maids called to her from the hallway. “Hurry up, Natsu. I want to get out of here on time for once.”
“So go,” Natsuku said. “I’m going to finish up here. Clock out for me.”
“Murakami-san is going to find out, and he’s going to fire you.”
She picked up a letter from the desk. “Not if you don’t go gossiping to the other girls, he won’t. Shut the door.”
Read the full story in American Fiction 16, available now.