They came in from the cold shaking snow from heavy winter jackets, most of them thick, bright, and down-filled. The tourists to the ski town wore their colors like peacock feathers, lures drawing mates to the café at the bottom of the slopes for a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or a promise to return, together, for breakfast.
The hotel was tucked in a cluster of evergreens at the end of a narrow, well-plowed road, the road itself a hidden turnoff from the main highway and marked only by a wooden sign knocked aslant one dead, hot summer by restless teenage locals.
The first person they saw when they came to town was the girl behind the counter. Dying neon bulbs flicked and buzzed over her station. Her hair hung dark and straight down her back. The men found her attractive and smiled at her and invited her to ski with them.
She handed them their keys and told them checkout was at noon. Now and then, her fingertips would brush theirs.
One or two a day would ask about the yellow ribbon stapled to the counter’s front panel and she would tell them it was for her manager’s son.
His name was Kyle, and this was the name she would call out at night when her shift was long over and curtains hid wide windows and another bright coat draped over a chair dripped a day’s worth of melted snow onto her carpet.
[“Seasonal Tourists” originally published in Right Hand Pointing and is included in Carol’s Aquarium]