Maggie leans against the slightly dirty brick wall. These smoke breaks are a little slice of heaven for her. They are only a minute or two long, but they are all she gets. She knows she is supposed to get more, but there is too much work to be done. There are too many customers with hungry mouths to feed. There is no time for real breaks, but that is fine, because the money is almost worth it.
The money is almost worth missing hours of study time. It is worth losing a half a point on her GPA. A two point seven can still get her into grad school, she tells herself, and she ignores that little voice reminding her that it would be an uphill fight. She needs to work, because otherwise she will graduate up to her eyeballs in debt. There is no shame in this. It is how mom got her to college in the first place. She is being an honest, hard-working American, just like her grandparents. It is not that she does not believe in scholarships, or grants. They are fine, for some people. She wants to hold her head up high though. She wants to say she did it on her own, pulled herself up by her own bootstraps. In the end, she knows she will be better for it.
What is the worst that could happen? There are worse fates than not going to grad school. She will still have her bachelors, probably, and that will be enough, maybe. Even if it is not, mom has spent thirty years doing exactly this. Her life is not some horror show, even if she did give up her dreams. Mom is hard-working, like a good American should be. Maggie can and will be the same. The American dream does come true, she tells herself, if you just keep your head down and keep pushing on.
She takes one last drag of her cigarette before going back inside. A guest has spilled coffee and no one cleaned it up while she was gone. It has run down the counter, and into her book bag. The paper she printed off before work is soaked. She will have to stop by the computer lab to print it off again. Hopefully it will not make her late to class. Hopefully she can still pass.
- “College Girl – Get Me Some Coffee!” (cafecasey.com)
- Sarah Chase: “Welcome to Hallows End” (leocraven.com)
- Awakenings: The All-American Diner (teepee12.com)
- Sometimes, but… (hjkabushelandapeck.wordpress.com)