Maria paused by the window as she shook the heavy down pillows into fresh cases. There wasn’t much going on two stories below, and to be honest, she was partial to the winter months in this old canal city. The tourists preferred to come when fluffy grey cygnets paddled down the waterways behind their graceful parents and flowers dripped like jewels from window boxes. Winter meant fewer rooms to clean, which meant a back that wasn’t killing her by the end of the day, which was a godsend to her budding relationship with the lusty young artist with the smudgy charcoals, recently come from France to capture the grandeur of the city’s architecture in his sketchpad. Scrutinizing the telephone table beside the neatly made bed, Maria replaced the notepad and pen pilfered by the last guest, then scooped up the dirty linen and closed the door on Room 321 for the final time this week. Once the day’s soiled towels were spinning their way to dazzling whiteness in the bleach-filled drum of the basement’s industrial washer, Maria bundled up, climbed to the hotel’s ground floor exit, and stepped out into the gathering darkness of a crisp winter afternoon, anticipating the ways her creative Frenchman would welcome her home.