Flash Fiction: A Slice of Adulthood

She’s a tiny little thing.  Not overly short, 5’3″ is an average height with an average weight on her frame.  It’s just that she looks miniature somehow, like a child playing dress up in mother’s over-sized, pre-pregnancy work clothes from the 80’s.

Her cardigan, buttoned up appropriately at the top for work, hides her feminine frame.  Which is a shame because she’s in the natural prime of her life in terms of attractiveness, later she’ll still be attractive, just artificially so.  Legs sprout and cross from underneath a pencil skirt.  Her feet are adorned with golden spikes.   Pumps the only part of her of her outfit that hint to her youth in any way, but of course, even they are still tasteful for work.

Sipping coffee out of a tumbler, she stretches and in an instant it appears that she is drinking a bottle and in fact she is.  Sucking down a dry skinny cappuccino pacifies her from the throws of a tantrum.  Inside she allows herself to scream because life is uncomfortable when you know enough to be fully discontent with the way of the world.  Unfortunately for the youth society was  constructed by others, before their time.  They can only bend, but not break the constructs, and even then only if they are tough enough.

When she was even younger, she would imagine herself walking down the streets of Atlanta,  New York, Chicago or even Oxford, England living life as a tourist in her own hometown.  She would wander the streets and stop to see street musicians or to sight see while brainstorming for her next chapter.  She would write stories that would change lives.  She would go out at night and be the life of the party.  She would be fashionably poor, you know in the kind of way where your thriftiness seems cute.  But how can she write fiction when reality constantly slaps her in the face, when she’s learned that poverty is a terrifying situation and that even thriftiness can be expensive.  So she has a job now.  She hates it.  But she’s safe, and secure now.  No one will know she was  ever concerned with those matters if they look at her now.

Today is only another day where she must rally and fight against the status quo while knowing that each subsequent day will beat her down slowly until she’s one of them.  One of them who slowly sips their coffee, content with a status quo they once hated because work and life have somehow buffered their eyes and hearts to the inconsistencies, the injustices and the uniformed chaos.

She knows now that every one sits cross-legged inside of their marked box as they temporarily rest during the cattle call of afternoon traffic at their locally designated coffee shop.  Outside is a car matching their income bracket and they wear clothing labeling how much they earn, although you could never tell the difference from the outside.  They are comfortable thinking everyone’s box is the same, with only slight variations and upgrades.  They lust over the box with the invisible layer containing a higher income bracket.   But, everyone’s box is not the same, some don’t even have one.  Some never learned how to build a box at all.  Some are forcibly placed into boxes without a choice.  But these people have learned not to see this not to hear this and wouldn’t hear it even if you told them directly.   Or, perhaps their box was never close enough to anything real to know the difference, to see the injustice.

At work today she’ll endure subtle racism and discrimination still lingering in the cubicles, but she’ll push through.  She’ll have another bottle of caffeine to pacify her, to get through it all.  Later in the afternoon when she’s worked as hard as she can all day without a tantrum, she’s followed the rules, she’s been a good girl, someone will snidely remark that she’s naive, that she doesn’t know anything yet.  Inside she will think that it is they who have forgotten to see the world the way it really is.  As tough as this tiny adult is, it breaks her spirit a little bit.

After work, she needs a stronger bottle, a drink without caffeine, a drink to put her down.  She pours herself a strong one, and reads a nighttime story on the news app on her iPad about kings of nations fighting over precious oils and the king and all his men mismanaging the kingdom’s gold to build invisible castles and of ‘evil’ queens who dared speak in the kings royal chambers.

She gets up from her seat in the coffee shop, and the man next to her eyes her and holds open the door, but not to be nice, just to check her out, to see what he can get in return for a basic kindness.  She ignores him and heads to work, but I can see how it all plays out.  I can hear her, because I have not yet learned to tune out the noise of her screaming.


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