2 comments

American Contemporary Drama

My shift is almost over, as I pack away the leftover shoes into their boxes, after customer's try them on, wanting another pair. This one is too tight, no, I don't like the color. I prefer less of a heel... but I love the style,..so on and so on. Often at the end of a day, I feel exhausted, drained, like people suck the life out of me literally. Other days....I just want to be home, alone. Feeling the utter quietness of my apartment as I close the door behind me gives me the sense of security, but on the exterior my persona, well, everyone sees me in a different way, more like the social butterfly, but, am I that at all? Really?


"Did you see that lady with the red hat and dress? She looks rich enough to pay all our salarie's for a year and a raise. It must be nice to have that kind of money." Sjara said to me, adjusting her hajib. Her voice had the tone of a little girl childlike and innocent. I loved that about her. She was my friend, even though I enjoyed my own company, I continued to find relief of her welcomed presence in the store.


"I know right? Maybe she just looks rich but is in a lot of debt?" I replied back. I actually hated these kinds of conversations, the kind that went nowhere, just talking for nothing, I sighed. It was getting to be the end of the day, my body was tired, I was hungry for dinner.


"Oh, I bet she has tons of money, even her perfume smelled expensive. She has a big fancy house, with pedigree's and diamonds hidden in a safe somewhere." Sjara had a huge imagination, often fantasizing about people.


"Hun, you should be a writer of fiction and not go into accounting. Hmm?" I told my friend, tiredly, I felt a huge yawn coming now. I wanted nothing more than to go home, and soak in my big giant bathtub full of lavender scented bubble's, washing the day off my aching body.


She then began wiping down the cashier at her station. Sjara was one of the newer employees, doing her degree in Accounting at the college. I liked her, she was one of my most trustworthy friends here. Her brother, Rejhen came to pick her up after night, and he was so handsome, his dark skin shone and brought his beautiful eyes out.


****


They often invited me over for dinner, they were vegetarians. Once I did go, ultimately. The visit was not wasted time spent. It was a beautiful evening, and the table with its hand woven cloth was covered with delicious foods. Carefully prepared, cooked by their mom and grandmother. I really did have a good time. Sjara showed me photo's from their country back home in Pakistan, and music playing Middle Eastern style was enlightening to my ears. The music was happy, dancing celebration fun stuff. I was taken away by the entire ambience of this visit, but afterwards, the joy to finally be alone was overwhelming, my anxiety on overload. It is hard for me to stay focused when I go out with others, on the exterior I appeared to be fine. Confident, poised, professional, well rounded. Maybe.

"Hey I had a really good time last night, your family is so sweet and the food, thanks again for bringing over." I told her afterwards back at work.

"Your very welcome, come again soon." She answered proudly.


*****


A long hot soak in my giant bathtub is what I want, while the birds are chirping and fluttering. I can hear them in the garden patio. The robins and woodcocks, cardinals and sparrows, surviving in the habitat of the city. Like us, I thought. Bet they wanted to be alone too, just eating worms, or seeds from the bird feeder hanging from the balcony above me. By themselves, without the bother of mates trying to steal it. I laughed at that one. Figuring out the irony between city birds and humans, okay, does it go well? Everyone here just thinks I want to talk, or hang out, all the time, it feels to me, and since I lived in the same complex in the same neighborhood for many years, they just think THAT??? I have to go out today and do errands. The butcher and then the produce shop, the drugstore too. I want to slither around, unseen.


"Anna, good morning, another hot day today, what would you like?" Asks Frank, at the local meat shop, his white apron already showing the stains of blood from his morning's work, his big meaty hands placing steaks into their places behind the glass. I smiled pleasantly.


"Just got some fresh pork and beef if you like, good price." He announces proudly, his usual cheery sales chat filling the back of the store, and I give him my order. The shop is now beginning to buzz, as I watch the customer's, trailing in. I watch some of them.


An older woman picks through the packs of frozen sale meats. The two large freezers in the middle of the shop are small so she can bend over to browse. She is wearing a pretty orange cotton dress that clings to her. She sees me watching, but I baby step back - leaning backwards, towards the cheese fridge. 'Don't start chatting please, not in the mood right now.', I thought as my fingers inadvertantly sweep over the cheddars of all age groups. I pick out a 3-year old import from America. $19.45, the piece said, pricey I thought, I place it in my cart anyway. Saving face. I wanted to NOT stay in there any longer than I had to. I felt knots forming in the bottom of my stomach. Waiting for freedom, soon, now my order would be ready.


The air conditioning in here makes me feel chilled to the bone, I wonder how the lady in the cotton dress manages to look so comfortable in this freezer of a store. She looks back at the meats, grabs a few packets of the vacuum packed food, and placed some in the basket. Her fingers are curled slightly, arhtritis probably, I notice her well manicured pink lacquered nails, such a pretty color, like the rose bushes in English gardens. I adored pink roses, or any colorful rose bushes. Those thorns made them strong for themselves, protection against nature's enemies. Rose bushes withheld centuries of abuse, they feared nothing, what would it be like to be a thorn like that? I remembered when we were all small, back home, and I would hide somewhere, trying to find a little place all my own, without the annoyances of my siblings fretting and fussing.


****


I would always wake up earlier than everyone else, make myself breakfast and then my mother would come downstairs and join me. She would get the rest of my dad's breakfast ready before he went to work. Special times, private moments, now that I recollect them in these stressful times, I craved "me time" now. I breath deeply, in spite of the cold air in this shop. I miss my mom now, she'd passed away two years ago from cancer, tiny and frail she'd been sick for a long time. My heart still ached with an emptiness after she'd left. You don't get to bring back those moments when the person you love is gone, that's it, just the end. Only memories and stories are left. Weight of sadness that stays........


I often recalled time's when, my brothers or older sisters would precariously pick on me, leaving me out, or just ignoring me in that old big house. I would often just go out back, and sit on the swings. My dad built that swing, and it stayed for years, as long as I could remember living there. The wood probably rotted away eventually, but I just thought of the sanction that swing gave me, from most of the commotion and chatter that constantly took precedence in our house. Other things brought me peace too. Like when we would go to the beach, I would find a little spot right at the water's edge. I would wrap myself up in a big fluffy towel, that baby blue one was my favorite, and just sit there with my feet in the water. I pretended that I was a lonely princess, and noone could find me here on the water's edge.


****


I begin to look around at the shelves of various jams, and they sat there, in jars of all sizes and labels. Racks of freshly baked breads, and other delectable sweet and savory treats were inviting too. I was tempted to buy a banana nut bread, and so, I placed one in my basket along with the 3-year old imported American cheddar. I loved this little shop, and the fact that locals brought their wares here; everything was homemade and fresh. Customer's were hustling around. I began to feel crowded in here now as it got busier. I went back to the meat counter, got my parcel - was finally was able to leave. I didn't look at anyone directly, not up for talking.


I have a few things to do, including the drugstore too. I walk along the little street, enjoying the scent of the gardens, the colorful flowers in boxes outside the stores, large plant bins holding pretty little various impatients or petunia's. I stop in at Starbuck's, ordered a large lemonade. I started to look for a to bench on the corner, under the shade of an apple tree. Some crab apple's had fallen, I noticed, and stayed rotting on the ground. The ants would eat those, I mused, getting myself comfortable here, the perfect spot.


I am happy sitting here, alone, enjoying some privacy, and my own company.


"Anna, long time no see!!" Adrien walks over to me, his face beaming with happiness at seeing someone he'd gone to school with. His face still held those dimple's he'd had since high school, and his weight showed more than it used to. From what she could remember since school days. Adrien had become a manager at the department store, where we both worked now. Lucky for me, I didnt have to see him much. He had a small office in the back, and did a lot of paperwork and phone meetings. Now, having to sit with Adrien it was as if an empty well, right to the bottom, started filling up with mudslide, was beside me. Not cool.


"Hi Adrien, yes it's been a long time, how are you?" I ask him, for politeness sake. He plops himself beside me, sweaty and crowding my space. I had one slight moment of alone time, now, the invasion of his presence and uninvited chatter took my 'special place' away. I sighed, sipping my lemonade, the ice cubes already melting, like tiny little islands floating in the yellow sweetened sea of sugary liquid.


"Good, better than most, still putting in long hours at the store." He replied. His large frame sat closer to me than I wanted him to.


"We had to put mom in a nursing home, we got her a good one though, they are very careful on covid protocols, she had two strokes, but she can wheel around and is doing okay." Adrien spoke, his hungered eyes gazing at my lemonade. Oh boy, he wanted to talk, I just wanted to enjoy my little bench in the shade, the apple tree comforting on the side I was sitting on, as subconsiencely I edged away from him.


"Oh, that's great, well,...um, I mean glad she is okay." I replied, then acted as if I had to go in a hurry, picking up my shopping bag. I hated to leave the shaded spot, the apple tree and its comfort, noticing the intensity of the heat in the air as I was leaving, trying not to be rude at the same time. Adrien was someone I knew a long time ago, we worked together for awhile back at the Department store, he'd become manager of the shoe department. I worked next station over in the perfume department, he'd often ask me out, to lunch, to dinner, but I didn't encourage him in any way.


"Well, it was nice to see you again, take care and say hi to your mom for me." I waved him off, gratefully, trying not to be rude. I'd felt uncomfortable when he sat down, uninvited beside me. Invasion. I wish I had a disguise sometimes, often pretending I was someone else, somewhere else, other than this town where everyone knew everyone.


*****


Finally, I got home to my apartment, put the groceries away. I flipped on some music, soft jazz. Ahhh, so much better, I breathed relief. See, I grew up in a large family, seven brothers and sisters. Never once did I have privacy at home. When one has that big of a family one has to share everything. My mind wandered to my past now, as I ran the tub, filling it with scented lavender bubble's, my favorite. I lay in there, soaking in the warm water, breathing in the heavenly aroma, while the music floated through the apartment, gently, memories eroding my tired mind.


*****


I do love people, enjoy socializing, but I would rather be alone. I focus better, I have no one to answer back to, some advantages of being an introvert, but not everyone knows that about me now, it's not really something that is discussed either way or anyway. My body was beginning to relax, the bubble's slowly dissolving, it was time to get out of the tub, I donned my fluffy bathrobe. tea kettle on. Introvert vs. extrovert, yes, being alone suited me well. My cell phone was buzzing, message indicator popping new messages. I ignored the device, went to the kitchen put the a was ready several minutes later. I finally, reluctantly, checked my phone.


*****


"Lilianne, I am not going out tonight, I have some work to finish up in here for my editor." I told my friend Sully. She wanted to go to a local country bar, a new band playing.

"Aw, c'mon, we havent been out in ages, I got a new outfit to wear too." She boasted. Great. I can hardly wait to see it. Probably more than likely some mini skirt, a low cut blouse that showed half her boobs or more, and I would sit there watching Sull flirting with anything wearing pants.

"No way, going to pass. I really have to work tonight." I told my friend adamantly. Sully was impetuous, daring, much more so than I was, and I just wanted to rest tonight.


Perhaps that part of my past, that had carved me into being who I really was, having covered up my "real" self and putting up social fronts, much of which was necessary living in the city and having to work to survive. I learned to cope with the lifestyle, but dreamed of owning a cabin, someday homesteading. Maybe that would have suited me better, I often thought about that. Many people today chose alternate lifestyles, why cant I? >>>> But for now, the life I have is the life I get. I have a good job, I have friends, I come and go as I please and I live alone.


For that, I am grateful, satisfied in my choices, some people are not so lucky in what they get in a lifetime at all. I volunteer at the homeless shelter in my neighborhood too, twice a month in the kitchen there. I see so much sadness and lost souls, as I help prepare the meals, and they line up to get their plates of food from charity and donations. Yes, I am grateful.


******



July 27, 2021 13:09

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Kathleen `Woods
10:28 Jul 30, 2021

This was nice, and it matches up well to tailoring. Thanks for writing!

Reply

M. M.
17:30 Jul 30, 2021

thank you so much for the compliments - I especially tried to "show" not tell with her, I wanted to take the reader through a day in her life, and past memories, of her thoughts and what nots, glad u enjoyed it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply