Smile

Smile

Smile

A short story by Katelin Hogard

 

“17 adults, six kids.”

She rolled her eyes, the shriek of children pulsating into her temples without any remorse. It was Sunday, day five of a 60 hour week at the little supper club that’s been around since before her own father could walk. This meant mediocre steaks, a bar full of drunk’s and a dining room that was empty by 8pm. It was year 15 for her. 15 years of this small supper club in this small town that she always promised herself to get out of but never had. A pregnancy at 18, divorce at 22, another pregnancy at 24 and a foreclosure at 27. This place was the only consistent in her life.

“Four shots of polish and a vodka press.” Before the words could come out of his mouth a chair fell over, echoing throughout the whole neighborhood. “Hello…? I’ll need those drinks today.”

She looked up and just smiled, trying to suffocate him with her eyes. There was a group that had been drinking since 11am in the bar and a private party in the back. Along with that, all of four tables were full in the dining room with daughters taking their crippled fathers to dinner at the only place familiar to them. The sadness within them exaggerated her own but she understood why they always kept coming back. The steaks that were always overcooked, the carpet that turned a darker tinge of shit grey every year, the familiar faces. Everyone always wants familiar.

“I’d like a riesling, Mich Golden Light and a white zin.”

She snapped out of the hypnosis she had put herself in.

“Oh hey, Sherry. Bob want a side of ice with his zin?”

“Yeah, Jenny. Thanks.”

Drinking here wasn’t an art. It wasn’t for pairings or the fruit and acidity on the palette. It was for self preservation and a way to pretend you weren’t in denial of your entire life.

“Ugh. These kids will be the death of me. Four Shirley Temples and a milk. Do we even have milk? I don’t remember.” Suzanne was what Jenny saw herself as in another 15 years and it didn’t even make her sad anymore. That’s just what it was now. She smiled and reached for the milk.

“I just need you to be cool with me and you act like it’s a fucking joke. You don’t give two fucks, do you?”

She rolled her eyes over to the fighting couple and immediately brought it to a halt.

“Max, cut it out or go outside. I told you two the rules about fighting in here. Take that shit home.”

Closing time would come soon. She always had to remind herself of this. It’s a small town. Time comes quick, but never soon enough. Until then she forced the smile and quaint happiness she was so good at faking to this poor excuse for a society.

“Hey, baby. Lemme get a shot of whatever you like and make one for yourself, too.”

She rolled her eyes and just smiled.

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Smile