Wait Chapter Eight: Dance Away the Pain

May 28, 2010
“Hi Mandy!” Jackie, an African American woman in her forties who ran the corner market, called out to her. Mandy smiled as she walked over to her. Before Mandy had become popular, Jackie was one of her few friends. She had been college roommates with her mother and babysat her when her dad was alive and after she went to live with her uncles. They were friends, but Mandy considered her more of an aunt than anything else. “How is my best worker doing today?” Jackie asked as Mandy grabbed her apron off a hook. “Great,” she answered. “Wow. You usually answer ‘I’m good’ or ’I’m fine’ or ‘I’m ok.’ You must really be great if you answered that way,” Jackie told her. Mandy had to laugh. Jackie was right. She did usually say good or ok or fine. But she was feeling great. Even if she had been on her way to having a complete mental meltdown that morning. Mandy walked into the employee lounge, put her bag in her locker there, and walked back to the checkout, tying her apron. “What do you need me to do today?” Mandy asked Jackie. “Just organizing the new shipments in the back. Then I need you to do some restocking. After that, you can do checkout,” Jackie replied. “Ok,” Mandy said as she headed back to the store room. She saw the new crates stacked in the back. It was a shift that lasted from five P.M. to closing. There weren’t many crates, so Mandy knew it wasn’t going to take a long time. She grabbed a crowbar and started prying the lids off of the crates, all the while singing to herself. She practiced her singing whenever she was working alone in the store room. She worked on breath control and making sure her throat was open enough to make her voice clear. She never had to worry about anyone hearing her. No one came back here unless they had been assigned to organizing the store room. She started labeling the smaller boxes that had been inside the crates with the contents and when the order had come in. After that was done, she stacked the boxes on the shelves putting the newer shipments on the bottom and the older on the top. She pushed a metal shipping bed with boxes stacked on top out of the store room and back into the store. “I love this job,” Mandy thought to herself. It paid fairly well for the job it was. Plus, it was next to the apartment building, so no wasting money on gas or a bus. She liked that she was working with Jackie, who was the only reason she knew she looked like her mother. Jackie would always tell Mandy stories of her mother, like how excited she was when she learned she was pregnant after trying so long for a child or how artistic her mother was in college. Her favorite story was when her mother was pregnant and how she knew that Mandy was going to want to be a famous singer someday and how excited she was for a daughter. “She was so excited the day she found out you were going to be a girl,” Jackie had said once when it was just her and Mandy cleaning the store after closing. “She told me, ‘That girl is going to become famous one day, singing for thousands. Or at least she’ll want to. She’ll get married young, too. Just like Mark and I had. He was eighteen and I was seventeen. He was the star of the football and basketball and soccer teams. I was kind of an outcast in high school. That was, until people noticed I was a unique person.’ She immediately wanted to name you Mandy, too.” Mandy smiled to herself as she walked through the store to the produce section. She began stacking the fruit and vegetables in their places, quietly humming a tune to herself. After she finished those boxes, she walked to the back of the store and grabbed the second cart. Soon, the restocking was done. “Can we get another employee up to the checkouts?” a voice said over the intercom. Mandy walked to the checkouts and opened a new line. “Thanks, Mandy,” Kevin, another employee, said. “No problem,” she replied. Soon enough, the crowd that came in for dinner supplies had dwindled down. Not long after, it was closing time. “See you next time, Mandy!” Jackie called out. “Bye, Jackie!” Mandy called back as she walked out of the store. She put on her hood as she walked to her apartment building. She went inside and got the mail out of their mailbox. There was a magazine for Chris, bills for both uncles, two letters for Jack, junk mail, and a few magazines for herself. She put them in her backpack and got into the elevator. She hit the button for the 11th floor. She got out of the elevator and unlocked the apartment door. She put the mail on the coffee table, amid other things, and went to her bedroom.

“The company is just crazy now,” Jack said before he put a forkful of steak in his mouth. “Define crazy,” Mandy told him, stabbing a piece of chicken with her own fork. “He means that so much is going on, the job is getting kind of out of hand,” Chris answered her. Mandy swallowed the food in her mouth. “What is going on?” she asked, only knowing the basics of their job at the shipping company. Jack sighed. “Shipping is starting to be used a little more often than we’re used to at this time of year. That and people are getting the flu. Shipping gets more hectic and we don’t have enough people to handle it all at once. We’re barely making it by with the staff we have available now.” “Is there a way that people with other positions can take some of the works off of your hands?” Mandy asked. Jack smiled. “That’s the best idea we have heard yet,” he told her. “The good thing is, it is possible that some people can do some aspects of our jobs. It’s not on their main list of job fulfillments, but it is something that they can do if needed. That is going to help a lot.” Mandy smiled. The family finished eating their dinner and cleaned off the table. “We’re going to go to Little Blues World tonight. We’ll see you tomorrow,” Chris told Mandy as he put on his jacket. “Ok, Uncle Chris,” she replied. Little Blues World was an all-ages jazz-blues club that was about a ten minute drive from the apartment. They went there often, usually if work had been stressful. The door shut and Mandy put the dishes in the dishwasher, filling it enough for another load. She poured in detergent and started it. She sat on the couch and sighed. She had nothing to do. She glanced at the clock. “Wow, 9:00 already?” she asked. She stretched her arms and got up. “If I’m not going to sleep well tonight, might as well go to bed early so I can get as much sleep as I can,” she said out loud. She got ready for bed and sank under the covers, trying to relax enough to drift herself off to sleep. She dreamed that she was wearing dancing shoes and her mother was teaching her how to dance. She looked into her mother’s eyes. “You sometimes have to dance away the pain, Mandy. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that you can do.”

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