Tired eyes gaze listlessly, unable to expend enough energy to focus. The heavy head turns, the eyes shift upward to read the glaring green numbers on the automatic computer display. Two, four, eight, seven. Haltingly, the mind conjures the image is wishes to create. A transparent mask is quickly pulled over the weary face. Eyes gaze toward the waiting Sir, but cannot manage a focused sparkle. Dry, think lips attempt a convincing smile: corners turn up, but still the line between top and bottom does not divide. As the mouth repeats the ominously familiar phrase, Sir, that will be twenty-four dollars and eighty-seven cents, please, Sir the entire face pulls together with mind and body, giving one last effort to the appearance of happy friendliness, of genuine interest. Still, the trivial wish for the Sir to enjoy the remainder of his evening is merely a flat, obligatory monotone. No facade can successfully conceal the fatigue and longing within. Once again, she watches the Sir go, unconvinced. Once again, she remembers the children lying at home, peacefully sleeping. By now their slow, even breaths evidence their peaceful sleep in the one-bedroom they share with their moth; their tears for their mother have dried for the night. Every moment during her night shift she grasps a subconscious picture of her young daughters, the two small reasons she must endure the fatigue and disheartening monotony of her quickly receding life. She allows herself one moment of conscious longing and, and once again, resumes her post. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.