Monday, March 10, 2014

Midnight Ballerina

Sneak peak from Midnight Ballerina
*Subject to change* “YOU’RE FIRED.” “What?” My hand froze midway as I reached for an apron, my mouth falling open at what my boss just said. He had to be kidding. I swallowed thickly, letting out a weak laugh as my hands finally landed on an apron. “Ri-ght, Charlie. You’re such a jokester.” I playfully nudged his shoulder, stepping around him to get to the time clock. Charlie really wasn’t the joking kind, but I guess there was a first time for everything. “Monroe.” His tone was flat so I turned to look at him. He lightly rubbed at the spot that I had bumped into and I barely managed to contain an eye roll. Like I had actually hurt him or something. “I’m not joking.” He sniffed slightly, grabbing at the apron that in my hand, and I pulled back on it at the same time. This quickly turned into a little game of tug of war, until he finally decided that he was done playing, letting go with a loud sigh. “Listen.” He scratched at the gray beard on his chin and I squirmed in place, not knowing how to brace myself for what he was about to say. CA WILLIAMS 308 I did not get fired from things. Ever. There had to be some sort of mistake. Maybe he had gotten hit on the head and was really meaning to talk to Kelsey, the one who I was constantly cleaning up behind. I mean, was it really so hard to take sandwich orders and not screw them up. It wasn’t rocket science. “You’re a great employee.” The best I wanted to add, but I didn’t really think he would care. I could tell his mind was made up. “But?” Now that I knew it was really coming, I might as well help the poor guy along. That was me: Monroe Hartley, helper to everyone, even when I was getting fired. I really needed to stop doing that. “But it’s just hard to work around your school schedule. I need someone with flexibility, and there are a lot of people out there that actually need jobs. People that have all the time in the world.” He looked at me sheepishly be- fore pushing the wire-rimmed glasses back up onto his nose, and they slid back down almost instantly. I stewed over his words, tapping my foot in place as they started to sink in. “So, let me get this straight? It’s not because I’m a bad worker, which I know I’m not, it’s be- cause you have to work around my schedule? And because you don’t think I need this job?” My voice was rising as the reality started to sink in and it was laced with just a hint of panic. It started slowly but now it was hitting me full force. Yes, this stupid sandwich shop was the bane of my existence, but at the same time, it paid the bills. One of the main reasons I worked as many shifts as possible in be- tween classes. I even missed one every now and then if someone called to ask me to cover their shift. “Do you think I don’t have bills to pay? How do you think I pay for the shitty apartment I live in? How do you think I pay for gas?” He stepped backwards as I jabbed a finger in his direction, emphasizing each of my points. He gave a nervous smile to a customer that had come in who pretended to look at the lunch menu, but was clearly entertained by the scene he had walked in on. “And books? And electric? I pay for everything myself.” His lips pressed into a tight line, but the way his hands were set on his hips, I could tell my sob story really wasn’t working. “I’m sorry, Monroe.” He shook his head and I huffed loudly, wanting to find something to say that would change his mind but I couldn’t think of a single thing. “I’ll put your final check in the mail, that way you don’t have to….” He trailed off as I pierced him with one final glare. “Fine, whatever.” I scooped up my purse, throwing the apron that I was still clutching in his face. Take that, Charlie. “By the way,” I called over my shoulder in the direction of the customer who was still waiting at the counter. “Nothing here is organic, the bread isn’t freshly baked—far from it—and I would totally avoid the mayo. Charlie there still lives with his mom and he seems to spend a large amount of time locked away in his office, if you know what I mean.” Okay, so, that last part I added on just to be a bitch, but Charlie deserved it. The customer snorted loudly and I heard Charlie shout something after me just as I opened the door, but I really didn’t care what he had to say now. Now, I needed to figure out what I was going to do. I ignored the scenery around me as I drove back to- ward campus. My apartment complex sat just near the edge of the school, so it wasn’t too pricey but still within walking distance of pretty much everything. I had been in Georgia now for two years, and the beauty of the campus still distracted me—normally. It was a whole lot different from my hometown back in Michigan. This time of year they could even be seeing snow, in fact, I think my mom mentioned something about a few flurries just a couple of days ago. Thinking about my mom made my body tense up once again. What was I going to do now that I didn’t have a job? I had been lucky when I first arrived on campus as a freshman, not knowing anyone or anything about the area, but still finding a job right away at the Honey Ham Sandwich Shop. It was close to campus, paid okay, and had no problem working around my school schedule—at least that’s what I thought. I knew jobs were hard to find, I had a few friends that had been searching for a while now, and no luck. I could honestly say that I had never found myself in this type of situation before. I was the oldest child out of three. I was always the most responsible and mature one over my sister and broth- er. The always seemed to be getting into trouble, but I was the one who stayed home instead of going out with friends, choosing to study or read instead. The only extracurricular activity I participated in was ballet. I’ve always enjoyed dancing, kept up with it over the years, and even participated in a few dance competitions. But like everything else in my life, I was just okay, only average. So when I decided to go away to college, hours away from home, instead of sticking close by at the community college, I shocked the shit out of everyone that knew me. I didn’t have a scholarship because, yeah I got decent grades, but nothing spectacular—I just felt like I needed something different, to step away from the realm of what was expected from Monroe Hartley. I started working as soon as it was legal, so I had quite a bit put away in my savings, along with a decent car that I purchased on my own. I basically pointed at the map and my finger landed on Georgia. I was accepted soon after applying to the University of Georgia, which led me here to Athens. My parents couldn’t believe it, my mom bawled for days, and I almost gave in. Almost. But one of my strongest traits was that I was extremely stubborn. Once I had my mind set on something, it was extremely hard to change it. My parents offered what little money they had put aside for my education, but it barely covered my gas out of Michigan. They didn’t have much money and I was okay with that. I got that they did their best for us. My siblings on the other hand, well, they weren’t as understanding. Just thinking about Holland and Jackson annoyed me. Apparently, I had inherited all of the responsibility and maturity in our family because neither one of them had any. They were still milking our parents for everything that they possibly could, not blinking an eyelash over the fact that our mom and dad could barely afford their own bills. I shook my head as I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex. My dark mood was trying to stick around as long as possible, but it was pretty hard to let it once I saw my best friend. She popped out of her car, tap- ping on my window with one of her perfectly manicured, red fingernails, and gave me a sweet smile, her bright white teeth practically blinding me. “What are you doing here, Amelia?” “Monroe,” she scoffed, looping her arm through mine. “You’re having a crisis. Whenever there’s a crisis, a girl needs her best friend.” She flicked back a piece of her long, golden blonde hair, giving me one of those pageant smiles she was famous for. I was pretty sure ninety- percent of the student population knew Amelia Miller, and somehow, I ended up as her best friend. I still had no idea how. She was the quintessential southern belle; her makeup and clothes were always perfect, her manners were some of the best I had ever witnessed in my life, and she was friendly to everyone. The only time she tended to let her hair down just a little bit was when we were alone, out of the public eye. She wasn’t fake; she just didn’t know how to let go sometimes. I guess I couldn’t blame her. It had been drilled into her head to always be perfect, probably straight out of the womb. “I told you on the phone that you didn’t need to come over.” I pushed open the door to my apartment and Amelia followed me in, immediately heading toward the kitchen like she did every time she came over, even though she knew there was hardly ever anything in there. She rolled her eyes when she opened the cupboard next to the fridge and at least five boxes of Milk Duds tumbled to the floor. She crossed her arms over her chest. “How is it that you can’t even afford to buy yourself a jar of spaghetti sauce, but yet you seem to have an endless supply of those?” She pointed to the yellow boxes that I quickly scooped up and hugged tightly to my body. Milk Duds were my guilty pleasure, the one thing that I turned to when I was having a bad day. I had a feeling they were going to my best friend for a while until I figured things out. Amelia shrugged her shoulders and walked into the living room, plopping down as she kicked her heels off. “So, we need to come up with a plan. I don’t know why you just won’t move into the dorms with me. You know my roommate is never there. No one would ever know. Imagine the money you could save.” “Nope.” I shook my head and collapsed next to her. “That’s not happening. I could get kicked out of school if they found out.” “Oh please, Roe. I highly doubt that. Why do you have to be so stubborn about things? How about I give you a loan? Daddy owes me some back allowance, I can give it to you and you can pay me back whenever you get back on your feet.” “Amelia.” I sighed loudly and she rattled on about all of the ideas she had come up with in the short amount of time since finding out I no longer had a job. Amelia was spoiled, to say the least, and she knew it, but she really didn’t let it get to her head, believe it or not. She was always trying to give her money away to friends or charities, only occasionally splurging on a shopping spree or two, here and there. “Okay, well I knew that you wouldn’t like any of my ideas, so here.” She pushed a newspaper into my hands, bringing me back to reality. “I knew you were my best friend for a reason.” “Yes, ma’am. You got that right.” She giggled, pointing to where she had circled some letters with a little heart. “I even found one for you. I think it’s exactly what you’re looking for.” I quickly read the ad, rolling my eyes at Amelia who was clutching her stomach, her whole body shaking from the laughter she tried to contain. Looking for girls who want to make big $$$ No experience required Start right away! “You’re so funny. Maybe you should apply for a job there.” “It’s for a strip club, isn’t it?” She covered her mouth with her hand, whispering the question quietly as if some- one were going to hear her utter the words strip club. Her mama might just faint if she ever found out that such vulgar language even existed in Amelia’s vocabulary. “I’m assuming so. Do you want to go find out?” I smiled wryly at her and her whole body shivered at just the thought. “Monroe Hartley that is disgusting,” she emphasized, her button nose scrunching up slightly. “I would never step foot in a place like that. Could you imagine?” She shivered again. “Yuck. Now you on the other hand….” She trailed off and I pushed my eyebrows together. “Are you trying to call me a whore or something?” “Really, Monroe? I think I know that you’re not a…you’re not that way. I just figured with that booty pop you love to work, you could probably make some really good money.” “That booty pop only comes out when I’m drunk, which is rare, so I think I’m good. But thanks for the suggestion.” Amelia stayed for a little while longer, helping me read-through the classifieds, but really, there didn’t seem to be anything worthwhile. I was starting to panic a little, but kept a smile plastered on my face, not wanting Amelia to see that I was worried. I didn’t need her or anyone else’s help. I would figure something out. There was no way in hell I would let myself fail and have to run back to Michigan with my tail between my legs. Nope. Not happening. This was just a tiny bump in the road that I would cruise right on over. And there was no way in hell I needed to go work as a stripper, no matter how many times Amelia suggested it.

No comments:

Post a Comment