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THE CORNER VIEW / Ruth Yunker THE ROOM WAS LARGE. It was blue and white. There were gilt, mirrored doors on the armoires. A small but elegant crystal chandelier hung in the center of the room. Pristine, handpainted beds. The room was beautiful. But the view of the lake, the promised magnificent view of the famous lake, was not the right one. It was only a corner view. One had to step out onto the tiny balcony and turn one's head a hard left in order to see it. I saw in an instant that no amount of beautiful room would alleviate this. "Take me to a room with a front view of the lake," I said. The pretty assistant concierge smiled politely, smiled sweetly, in fact, and led me to the smallest hotel room in the world. It was on the top floor, furnished with iron beds painted white, wooden floor painted white, white chiffon curtains in the tiny window. The little concierge opened the wooden shutters. I had to bend down to see the famous view of the magnificent lake with mountains lining it. "Pretty, yes?" The concierge smiled at me. "This is up under the eaves," I said. "Oh yes," she said. "Same price as the corner room below. Same price, for the front view of the lake." "Too small," I said. "Oh yes," she said. "The other room is indeed much prettier." Her teeth were sugar in the morning sun. I'd spent the night on the train. This was my first vacation. I needed a room with the right view. "I want beauty," I said. "Beauty below," the concierge assistant said. "Quaintly miniscule, front view, up here." "But," I cried. "How much is a larger room with a view?" She named an astronomical sum. "Oh," I whispered. It isn't reasonable to fuss over a corner or a front view. The lake is still the same lake. The mountains are the same mountains. The air blowing in is still sweetened by the waters of the famous lake. The sounds of the boats are still the same, both views. "Aah, but the sun," I said, staring at the spun teeth of the pretty concierge. "Look at how the sun gleams into this room," 58 ยท The Missouri Review I said. I spread my hands. "I had envisioned such sun streaming into a much larger room than this. One with a front view. I have only this one week of vacation. I need both the sunlight and the space." "Aaah, but mademoiselle," cried the pretty concierge, smiling suddenly more truthfully at me. "That corner view below does indeed include the sun. It just comes a little later in the day. It does, though, come," she said, smiling, yes, smiling oh so truthfully now. "That room gets more sun, in fact," she said. Stars shone from the mouth of the pretty concierge. I stood and surveyed the miniscule room up under the eaves. I argued with myself. Stay with the front view. The view is what counts. I touched the iron bed. Go back to the big room below, the corner back view, the mirrored doors, the space, the glimpse of the view, I said to myself. My clothes were sodden. My hair was limp. I hadn't slept well on that train, that long, overnight ride from the dirty north of my country, to the flagrantly beautiful south. I was grey, I knew, and appearing unworthy of a room with a front view. This front view, but in the larger room. I was unworthy of the beautiful corner room too, and so soiled, just by breathing, my northern breath was soiling the pristine cleanliness I saw in both rooms, and soiling the pretty concierge assistant too, for all I knew. An irresolute moment is filled with failure. I was spent. "Neither room," I cried out suddenly. "I'm worthy of neither room." This I whispered, and dropped my head. The pretty concierge breathed in sharply. "Nonsense," I heard her say. She grasped my arm, pulled me out of the tiny top floor room with the front view, and deposited me below, in the big, beautiful blue and white...


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