Flash fiction: The Inn at the End of Dreams by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is “Back to School.”

This week’s contribution comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara is currently in Berlin, Germany, doing her best to catch up with semi-abandoned writing projects. Her YA novel “Mi chiamo Elisa” was published in Italy by “Le Mezzelane Casa Editrice” in September 2020 and recently in Turkey with the title “Benim adım Elisa”. Her children’s book “Şebnem ve Schrödinger’in Kedisi” was just published in Turkey by Sia Kitap and in Italy with the title: “Chiara e il Gatto di Schrödinger”.

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The Inn at the End of Dreams 

by Chiara De Giorgi

 

When my grandparents opened the inn, they thought they would leave it to their children once they retired. Neither my mom, though, nor her brother or her sister ever wanted to work there. 

“It’s too secluded, too busy, too noisy, too weird…” 

That’s what they used to say, whenever grandpa addressed the issue. Growing up, I witnessed more than one discussion about this: my grandparents were getting older, the inn was their life, but it really was a lot of work, and it didn’t make sense to hire more help, as the earnings would drop significantly. 

“Why don’t you sell?” my uncle would ask from time to time. “It’s in a good position, the new owner could even build an additional story and add a couple of rooms or three.”

I always followed these exchanges with a bit of apprehension, as I loved the inn and hated the idea of my grandparents selling it. Luckily, they were having none of it. 

“And where would we go?” my grandma would reply. “We like it here, that’s why we built the inn here in the first place.”

Conversations like this always ended with my mom and her siblings scrolling their heads and muttering under their breaths. I eavesdropped, once, and I was horrified to learn that they meant to sell the inn as soon as their parents were dead, if they would not manage to convince them to sell before then. The thought made me sad, and I promised my grandparents that I would come live with them and work at the inn as soon as I finished school. I was like them, I loved it there. And I really could not understand why my mom and her siblings didn’t. 

 

The inn was built at a crossroads. There wasn’t much around, but the significant detail was the roads that met at that specific intersection. To the west was the World of Dreams, from which came the creatures on their way to our world; going north were the Lands of the Gods, who liked to travel to all the other places; to the east was the Realm of Fairy Tales, and to the south were the World of Humans and the Province of Talking Turtles (we often met some on our way to visit my grandparents).

There was a big variety of guests staying at the inn, and, growing up, I sometimes befriended some kid from one world or another when we both stayed long enough. I got a taste for ice skating one winter when I spent a few days playing with a fairy of the Cold from the Lands of the Gods, whose family stopped there for a short vacation. One summer, as a teenager, I had a crush on a young werewolf. I was convinced that he reciprocated, as we kept writing letters to each other throughout the following year: we sent them to the inn, and my grandparents forwarded his to me, and mine to him. Unfortunately, one day the letter I received was meant for someone else, so I learned that the scoundrel had a girl in each of the worlds.

Anyway.

When my grandparents decided to retire, I was studying to become a teacher. I had always believed that, when the time would come for me to take over the inn, I’d be ready, but it turned out I was not. My grandparents were saddened, but very understanding: they’d never put themselves in the way of another’s dream, especially if that someone was their only niece. 

They passed away a few months from each other a couple of years ago, and they left the inn to me. My parents, and my aunt and uncle, tried to convince me to sell it.

“A teacher’s salary is not enough to live a comfortable life”, they’d argue. “Think of all the things you could do with the money!”

But I couldn’t bring myself to do that. And, slowly, a plan was born. I’d turn the “Inn at the End of Dreams” into the “Boarding School at the End of Dreams”, and it would be open to all creatures, coming from any world. 

I found a partner from the World of Dreams, who was willing to invest money to build an annexe for rooms and a canteen. Classrooms, a large common room, and the library are in the main building, where we also have or quarters. (Gathering books to fill the shelves in the library has been one of the most exciting and fun undertakings of my life, by the way. I swear, the whole operation almost failed because I was too busy reading the books of fairy tales and legends from the Dream World, or the history of the Lands of the Gods, to take care of the necessary administrative stuff!) 

And, finally, the time has come: tomorrow is the first school day at the Boarding School at the End of Dreams. We have thirty-five students from all the worlds, there have been so many requests and we had to decline quite a few, but we are working on extra projects, so that other kids can take part in our exclusive programme. 

Needless to say, my family and friends were – and still are – very concerned about my decision, but I am sure my grandparents would be proud of me. My partner and I are determined to prove our detractors wrong, so wish us luck!

 

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The Spot Writers—Our Members: 

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/ 

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/ 

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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