twenty one - employee of the month

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Somehow Kylie talked me into wearing the best possible outfit I have in my closet — all for a job position that's centered around sloughing food off of dirty plates.

"I know you're gonna get the job," Kylie tells me with a small smile, tucking some loose hair behind her ears, "they love me here."

I smirk and nervously shake my cigarette between my fingers.

"I wish you'd stop smoking. You're gonna smell horrible," Kylie tells me with a twist of disgust to her lips as she looks away.

"Oh well," I cheerfully answer, "just another reason to hire me!"

I hear Kylie giggle and it makes me feel a little bit better about this whole situation. I've never held a job before, let alone have a job interview where I've had to act like this is what I really want to do for the next year or so.

Over the years I've had interviews with foster families and even families who wanted to adopt, but I could generally be myself and lie about all my favorite hobbies and activities.

Once we reach the diner, Kylie holds the door open for me and I'm greeted with warm air that's fragrant of coffee and burgers. Maybe that's because it was the transition between breakfast and lunch, but I definitely wasn't complaining.

I walk over to the counter where a few people are enjoying their brunch, sitting down on one of the stools while I wait for Kylie to come back with the hiring manager.

I swivel around once, now facing the restaurant again. My eyes naturally scan the tables and I find Ivan sitting in a both against the wall with an older man in a suit and tie. I feel my stomach drop as I pray that Ivan won't notice me here. Why the hell does he show up everywhere I am? I suppose it's just a small city.

I quickly swivel my stool back to face the counter, taking a deep breath while looking ahead into the kitchen.

"Coffee?" A soft, polite voice asks me as the waitress behind the counter holds a mug in one hand and a steaming coffee pot in the other.

I nod and watch her set the mug in front of me, filling it with hot, black coffee. I watch the steam rise off the liquid and I breathe it in, kind of hoping the caffeine will start working before I even take a sip.

"Eliott, this is our hiring manager Steven," I hear Kylie's voice approaching me from behind. I quickly take a sip of coffee and turn around to face them, extending my hand for Steven to shake.

"Nice to meet you, follow me back here," Steven says as I firmly shake his hand. I slip off of my stool and begin following him towards the back of the diner, making sure to keep my eyes aligned straight ahead.

"Do you have any experience?" Steven asks me as he holds the door to his office open for me. It's a really small space with a desk and computer facing the wall, one fold-up chair positioned next to the desk. He extends his arm for me to sit down.

"Um, no, I don't," I tell him as cheerfully as possible, taking my seat.

"That's okay. We can train you — It's really not a hard job," Steven reassures me as he clicks away on his desktop. I really want to peek around to see what he's clicking, but I don't want to be nosy.

"So, I'm going to need some information for the hiring process. Also, here is a drug test."

Steven quickly reaches behind his desktop and pulls out a navy blue colored stick with a white felt-like tip. "Just suck on this like a lollipop."

I nod and take the test from him, examining it for a few seconds before actually placing it in my mouth. It tastes sour and the tip that appeared soft is actually really dense, so I try my best to soak it in saliva as fast as possible so I can get the hell out of here.

"I'm going to give you this packet to fill out at home. Just bring it back whenever you're finished, preferably as soon as possible, and we'll find a date to begin your training." Steven gives me a half hearted smile as I suck on this stupid drug test, waiting for the "pass" marks to turn green.

After what feels like an hour, but is really only five minutes, my test is finished and I've passed all categories as anticipated.

"Thank you Mr. Price, I look forward to seeing you again," Steven tells me cheerfully once more, shaking my hand again as we both stand up. He escorts me out of his tiny closet-office and all I can think of is how the hell I'm going to get out of this place without Ivan seeing me.

"Eliott!" Kylie shouts from behind the counter, "I'll see you at home!"

I feel my stomach twist as Kylie speaks, her voice booming over the music and chatter. I give her a small smile and make a beeline for the exit, happily pushing the double doors open for my escape.

"You're stalking me now?"

I hear Ivan's voice and I shift my weight to my left side, pivoting in that direction. He's blowing smoke from his nose and watching it travel up towards the sky.

"No, um," I begin to tell him but I'm interrupted.

"I saw you. Getting all professional on me, huh?"

He blows some more smoke from his nose as he turns his head to look at me, his eyes squinting from the sun.

"I'm going to be a dishwasher... not too professional," I chuckle and reach out in his direction, tucking my application under the armpit of my other arm, "give me a cigarette."

Ivan brings his eyebrows together as he quickly moves his hand away from mine. "Gimme a reason to," he quickly states.

I shrug and rub my hands together to warm them up, blankly looking at him.
"I don't have one."

Ivan smirks and flicks his cigarette so the ashes slowly float onto the sidewalk.

"Alright," he tells me while turning his back to walk, "you wouldn't have to work at that shit hole if you helped me."

I groan under my breath and stick my hands in my front pockets, making sure the job forms don't fall from between my arm and side.

"You gonna come or not?"

I hear Ivan's voice and I tilt my head while watching him walk, closing my eyes for just a second.

What do I have to lose? Nothing.

"Alright," I tell Ivan while bending my arm just enough for the forms to fall onto the ground.

Oops.

I watch Ivan stop dead in his tracks, imagining the smirk on his lips upon hearing me agree.

What's the worst that could happen?

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Thanks for reading! Like always, comments and votes are greatly appreciated.

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