HumpDay Quickie #3

Posted: January 22, 2014 in Hump-Day Quickies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michael’s Birthday

by: Karl A Russell

Sheila sat by the café window, nursing her lukewarm coffee, making it last. The snotty waitress glared at her, but so long as the coffee remained, she was a paying customer.

She turned away, watching the taxis grind through the wet dawn, wishing she could just jump one and see how far her tips would take her. Then she thought of Michael getting himself ready for school, making a packed lunch with whatever he could find, wondering if she’d forgotten what day it was.

She sighed, took a careful sip from her chipped mug, then emptied her tips onto the table to count; it didn’t take long. She’d been on the main bar all night, serving countless leering, lecherous pissheads, and all she had to show for it was seven quid. Even with the little dole she’d saved, it wouldn’t be enough. A cheap cake, a few balloons and a card left a tenner for presents, providing she lived on fresh air till next Wednesday.

Sipping miserly, she stacked up the coins and considered her options.

Stack one. Do nothing, and let the boy down again.

Stack two. Go to the newsagent’s across the road, where Ali was just opening up. Risk seven quid on scratchcards and pray to someone bigger for help.

Stack three. Call Lucas, see if he needed company. It wouldn’t be that bad, this time, if he was sober. She wouldn’t make it home to see Michael off to school, but she’d be there when he got back, surprise him with a real Lego set instead of that Masterbuilder rubbish she got him for Christmas. Probably even have enough left for a takeaway dinner.

“You could put yourself through that,” she thought, “for Michael’s sake. Or you could risk what you do have on a blind chance. Or you could go home, wake him up with his breakfast made and hope that he understands that there’s not much more than that.”

She raised her mug, deep in thought, then realised that she’d emptied it.

Decision time then.

She swept the coins from the table, dumped them jangling into her pocket, then walked out into the rain.

  1. I like the comparison of decisions to money. Well written and good use of pace.

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