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Bi wheel against a blue sky

Monday – a short story

My bones crunch as I roll out of sheets soft with use. I make my bed. It’s a Monday, of course it is. Every time my hair gets caught in my mouth as I unload the dishwasher – and it smells like scorched toffee and saliva – I feel nauseous. Customers like to cry into my hair, their fear smacked with the breath of two-hour old bubble[1]gum. Was the fairground ride scary? Was it? I soothe, smoothing their collar out.

Mostly I fry burgers, watching the grease crystallise in caramel veins on the grill. On my lunch break I get grass stains on my plimsolls. I get paid.

All through the day, there’s a mewling at the back of my head, like a lost animal. I ignore it. It’s likely a migraine forming. That or a metaphor. Instead I make tepidly neon candyfloss. Someone faints and I mop their brow with a damp cleaning cloth. It’s purely perfunctory. When they come round, they complain about the tide marks of their foundation. Such ingratitude. The smell of bleach and old food their forehead emits is very minor, anyway.

The mewling continues. I fantasise about finding a puppy. At school I was asked what I wanted from life. It was always a rhetorical question. If I was allowed to answer, if I were Miss Universe: I’d say world peace. But really I want something like a spaniel or a scottie dog. An alsatian perhaps. Or a collie. With imploring, big soft eyes.

What would you like? I ask customers, when the only choices are a burger or a hotdog. I would like it to not be a Monday. I would like…and I leave an ellipsis. An empty space, a small hope.

I work at a fairground on a clover field, yet all I can find is three-leaves. Never four.

At the end of my day, I squeeze into the crawl space underneath the burger van. There’s something wriggling, wide pale eyes gleaming, their mewling slipping into a roaring. It’s a kitten.

It’s a stroke of luck.

It’s a good day.

Mei Kawagoe

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