Andrew

By , Herndon, VA
The familiar beep of car horns filled the air, and entered Andrew’s ears. He jumped, realizing the light at the crowded intersection had turned green a while ago. The six am rush hour traffic stuck behind him was waiting impatiently to start moving again. He refocused on the road, and accelerated down the avenue. He maneuvered through the streets, passing darkened shop and empty restaurants whose workers wouldn’t be awakening for at least another hour.
He sighed, wondering what had possessed him to take this job, and, more importantly, why he had kept it for the past five years. Maybe it was his mother, he thought, and the way she had said, "Think of the children, dear, do it for them!" God, he hated children. It was just the way they acted, their mannerisms, and the high pitched voices with which they used to scream at one another. It just bothered him, and everybody knew it.
The sun was rising in the distance; it appeared to be emerging from below the ground, when it was just stretched across the horizon. He heard the sparrows calling to each other, hidden amongst the trees. Andrew turned into the vacant parking lot that abutted the venerable elementary school. The streetlights dimmed as the morning sky brightened; the sound of a garbage truck could be heard faintly in the distance. He stepped out of his sedan, noticing some of the dark green paint on the door had chipped off. He grabbed his briefcase and strode half heartedly to the back of the building where the cafeteria was located. The decorations in the back of the building consisted of a few over sized air conditioning systems and a large, notably putrid smelling dumpster. The entrance door was located next to the drop-off dock, where a truck was scheduled to come later that morning to deliver that day’s food order. His bulky silver key easily slid into the worn-out lock, and Andrew turned the knob.
The cafeteria office was a small, sparsely decorated room, just the basic white stone walls and a window that looked out at the rusty old playground that was deemed unsafe, and therefore was not in use anymore. He set his brown leather briefcase on the ripped cushion of the wooden chair that sat under his desk. He sighed, and proceeded through the door to the equally bland industrial kitchen and prepared the ovens to heat the leftover breakfast that most students enjoyed before the morning announcements began.
A door opened, causing Andrew to jump. He looked up and saw Miriam, the aging cashier, entering the kitchen. She smiled, and readjusted her wire-rimmed spectacles.
"Hello, Andrew. How are you then, alright?" She asked cheerfully.
Andrew grunted, "Alright."
Miriam half-smiled, and took her place setting up at the till. Andrew got back to his work, placing the frozen foods in the ovens to thaw out in time for the breakfast crowd; the other workers arrived one-by-one as dawn turned into early morning.
When the canary yellow buses finally pulled up in front of the school, the bells at the top of the clock tower in the center of town had just rung for the eighth time. The garbage truck Andrew had heard several hours before had made its way to the dumpster outside the window. The driver used the controls to tip the contents of the dumpster into the hole in the top of the truck. A number of items fell to the ground, but the men didn’t notice, and drove away, leaving debris scattered across the asphalt.
Small children began flowing into the canteen, joining the growing queue for boxes of sugary cereal and moldy blueberry muffins. Andrew peered out at them from behind the counter, where he was supposed to be restocking the shelves. He watched the children rush, push, and shove their way to getting their cards; they screamed and yelped and pinched; it was infuriating to him.
He noticed the double doors that connected the cafeteria to the hall continue to open and close, with more children coming in for food. He grumbled, and set more boxes of cereal on the rack. He was fed up and went to sit down at his desk.
As Andrew stared out at the abandoned playground, his eyes wandered to the eroded asphalt. He scoffed, noticing the debris that had been left on the ground. Getting out of his chair, he slowly wandered over to the door, and stepped off the curb. Just as he had done so, a white van came rumbling down the road, and into the dock, blocking his view of the dumpster.





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