For a Free Day
My cat sits on my computer and yowls in my face. She is smashing the letters.
“Diva, let me do my homework,” I say, pushing her aside and commencing the deletions.
Undeterred, she sidles back up to me, puts her paw against my thigh, and cuts her claws into my leg.
Enraged, I stand up, and she skitters a safe distance away, conspicuously near the food bowl.
I sigh and go to feed her. She always gets her way.
As I dole the food into the dish, Diva twining around my ankles in smug self-satisfaction, the phone rings. It’s Gina at the steakhouse.
“Hey… will you come in today? Kirk was supposed to but it fell through.”
“I have homework to do.”
Diva meows her agreement.
“Please? I’m really in a bind.”
I massage my temples. “Alright… alright, but you owe me.”
I grab my keys, put on my work clothes, and head out. They still smell like the restaurant from last night.
As I shut the door behind me, Diva takes advantage of my distraction and streaks outside.
I get to work, put on my apron, and start taking orders. Of course Gina gives me more of the shit tables; the old church ladies who keep their change and never tip. The two-top tables, women who share a flatbread and drink a mimosa, then talk for two hours, picking at their crumbs. A poorly-dressed man with feral eyes who I suspected might be homeless. He asks for his steak cooked rare.
Wednesday afternoons at the steakhouse are never very busy, I don’t understand why she called me in. The way she was talking you’d think the place was on fire.
I go into the kitchen to find Gina gone. Gone. She’d just left without a word to me. I have to host now. It’d actually be an improvement, if I weren’t so angry at her. She might be my supervisor, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a fragment of respect.
I run the whole damn front for the next six hours, until Mina arrives.
“She just left you?” Mina says as she ties her apron on. Her terse lips tell me she’s been treated this way, too. She shakes her head and punches in.
“Yeah. I’m pretty worn out, so you don’t mind me leaving you with my tables?”
“Tables? You mean table.”
I glance out of the kitchen. The feral homeless man had dashed while I was talking to Mina. Bastard had gotten a free dinner out of me.
Well, that was coming out of my paycheck. I just made $34 for six hours of work.
I come home, Diva is waiting for me. She zips back into the house when I open the door.
At least I get tomorrow off. Thirty-four dollars. What’s the point.
I climb miserably into bed. I’ll shower tomorrow.
I wake up at eight AM. Diva demands food. I feed her, go back to bed, and luxuriate in my blankets, the warmth, the soft sheets. Diva lies in the patch of sun on my bed. I curl around her to share the rays. I’ll get hungry soon, and have to get up. But now, this is where I want to be. Today, I am free. It is a delicious sensation.
The phone rings. I look at the name. It’s Gina again.
Diva slumbers on my chest. She cracks a questioning golden eye at me, which catches the sunlight, lighting her iris in glinting amber flame. I am lost in admiration of her.
Maybe I’ll skip class today.
The phone rings again. I won’t answer.