My fiction writing is a little rusty! Bear with me while I practice. 🙂

A Change of Scenery

The shift change took longer than Lena had anticipated. It had been a long day, with little to do except rearrange the shirts and smile at the uninterested customer. In half an hour, she’d meet her friend for drinks to complain about the high drama that ensued in their lives, which was usually just a complaint from a boss or a suspiciously ambiguous text from a friend. Five minutes till her scheduled shift, and she had still not arrived.

Showing the day’s sales would take more than five minutes. She had planned her evening so that she could get there right after she got off work. Except it didn’t look like she’d get off right away. Carina had such a flaky name. It sounded about as grounded as she was, not getting to work at the right time. At least she’d have something interesting about her day to talk to her friend about. Lena’s coworkers made no sense to her. They didn’t seem to understand how important it was to be on time, and they always rushed through the shift changes like they didn’t care.

Lena cared. It wasn’t like she got upset about little things. She just took pride in her work…and wanted everyone else to, too. And when they didn’t, it made her feel frustrated for caring too much. Just the other day, someone had complained to her boss that she had ignored a customer while counting cash. It was probably Carina. She was always watching people. Maybe if she had taken care of that customer Lena had “ignored”, then there wouldn’t have been anything to complain about.

And why did Carina feel like it was okay to talk about other people’s business? If her boss had had a problem with her performance, then she would have addressed it. It wasn’t Carina’s responsibility to make sure people were doing their jobs. Maybe if she worked harder, it could be. The past few months, she had seemed especially checked out.

Now it was two minutes till the hour, and there still was no sign of Carina. She started to write a note about the day, explaining how it went. This way she could run out the door; she had been here too long already.

At four after the hour, Carina showed up, breathless. Lena couldn’t believe how disheveled her hair was and how her eyeliner was uneven, as if it had been applied in a hurry. The circles under her eyes were unappealing. People who went to bed at decent hours didn’t look the way Carina did. She shoved the note into her hand, clocked out, and rushed out the door without acknowledging Carina’s apology. “I’m so sorry!” she called out a second time as Lena stepped outside.

When she came into work the next day, Greer said hello. As he was about to tell her how the evening went, Lena jumped at the chance to talk. “Did it go alright after I left? Carina was late, and I was only able to leave her a note about the day!”

Greer looked solemn. “Yes, things were fine. Slow, like always. It was good for that night, though. The cancer finally took Jason.”

“Who’s Jason?” she asked.

“Who’s Jason?” he repeated. “Her boyfriend? You didn’t know about him?”