Chapter 22: The Chronicles of Being A Waitress

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 Apron... black pants, white, crisp blouse. Pants slightly too large, blouse slightly too small, but what did it matter? I smiled, and the reflection smiled back at me.

"Y/n..." I heard Anna call me from the next room.

"Kommen," I called to my left, practicing my German even though Anna knew English. I walked out of my room into the hallway and she met me outside of the small washroom. "Ready?"

"Yep."

I had found a job. It was quite miraculous—Anna happened to work in a small family bakery just next door to the man—that disgusting man—who had attempted to take advantage of me. They happened to need extra hands and when I mentioned that I needed a job, they had brightened up and taken me.

Anna worked with her mother, Mila. Mila was a beautiful woman, with striking bone structure like Anna's. Her hair was a soft gray and she had gentle hands that worked well with the dough to form little creations of deliciousness. I was extremely wary of any sort of meat buns in the past few days, but her cooking was also good. I trusted her. I was so happy to be working with two women. Men were a little more than I could handle at the present moment.

"Guten Morgen," I called to Mila, who was standing by the cash register, jabbing in a few numbers. The jade on her wrist shook with every push of the button. "Morgen," she said back. "Y/n, do you mind taking the cream out of the fridge? The pink jar. Danke."

Anna came outside, carrying a tray of croissants, and began sliding them into the display cabinets. I got the cream and walked to the door, flipping the closed sign to open. Barely had I gotten back behind the display stand when a customer walked into the shop, a middle aged man. This bakery was popular—located right in the busiest streets of Soho, with its doors open to hungry shoppers. I had spent the last few days cleaning and wiping and collecting tips and smiling because it just felt so good to subsidize for myself.

"Guten Morgen," I told him, bringing a glass of water to his table. "Was möchten Sie essen?"

"Kaffee und ein Donut," he told me, and disappeared behind a newspaper.

"Einen moment bitte," I said, and walked behind the counter. Anna was frowning, sifting through mail. She tore open a letter. I watched her, taking milk out of the fridge. She was facing the wall, and I couldn't see her face, but I saw a shake of her thin shoulders. A melancholy feeling swept over me, like when you know someone is crying.

"What's up?" I asked her, pouring coffee into a small mug.

"Nothing," she said, and turned away from me. Mila had walked into the room and Anna pushed past her on the way to the kitchen, almost like she had something to hide.

***

I caught up with Anna later, standing in the back yard of the cafe. Trees and the fence blocked the house opposite us, and helped clean the air from her cigarette. "Hey," I said, touching her lightly on the shoulder. She jumped.

"Are you okay?" I asked carefully.

"I'm fine," she said shortly.

"But this morning... the mail... do you want to talk about it?" I asked Anna. She took a long drag of her cig before answering.

"I have a hobby," she said. I could hear German voices coming from next door.

"What is it?" I asked her, lowering my tone.

"Look," she said, in almost a whisper. She bent her head forwards, rolling up her sleeve, and I saw her red hair fall in neat little waves across one shoulder, leaving the other one bare. She pulled back the crisp white shirt and I saw the outline of a heart in a thin line on her right shoulder, right where the arm meets the shoulder.

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