I couldn’t recall any particular stories, but when I was younger and we didn’t have enough money for toys, I would make up stories instead. I always liked the darker ones, the scarier ones, the ones with the villains and the ugliest creatures—those were the most like real life. Fairytales and happily-ever-afters were for people in other countries.
I kissed him on his forehead. “I remember you telling me to stop telling them, that I was scaring you.”
Suddenly the Kobo started speaking and my mother jumped in her seat, letting out a nervous laugh. “Woo, this scared me.”
I went over to her, picked it up, and pressed pause. Though the Baja state was often behind in the times, the local library did have an e-reader program where you could borrow e-books and audiobooks for free. Now that my library fees were all settled, I had borrowed a range of crime thrillers for her to listen to.
I left the house later feeling relatively happy. I hated the fact that I had to go back to work and face Bruno again, but knowing that my parents were full from lunch, my mom was listening to her books for the first time, and my father seemed stronger than normal, it was enough to get me by. Sometimes, when I took the car onto the highway that led me to Cabo San Lucas and the sea air came through the open windows just right, it was enough to bring a smile to my face. In those moments I always lived outside of my reality, outside my head, and was just a child of the earth, an element like the sun and water.
When I finally got to work—traffic being especially heavy today—I was relieved to find the bar half-empty and Bruno nowhere in sight.
“Where is everyone?” I asked Camila at the till before I headed to the washroom to change from my sundress to the dreaded uniform.
She shrugged, her long earrings rattling lightly. “Just one of those days. Bruno went out and I don’t think he’s coming back. Anita should be coming on the floor any minute. Dylan and Augustin are in the kitchen.”
Thank god. I didn’t want to see Bruno and remember his eyes on my body, his grimy hands on my breasts. I got changed and started my shift feeling a million times lighter.
For the first hour I only had two tables—one was an older gentleman with a bowtie who was more than content to sit alone in the corner and nurse his martini, while the other was three giggling girls. They looked to be around my age, maybe younger, but had the newest fashions and those carefree smiles that only belonged to girls who never knew what struggle was, who had the world at their fingertips and the appetite to make it work for them. Part of me hated them, my insides writhing with jealousy, even though I knew it was very wrong. I tried to be a good person, to do right, but sometimes it was hard not to feel how hopeless it all was.
But I was nice to the girls, and they tipped me quite well, and I made a note not to be so judgemental. I was filling up a bottle of hot sauce behind the bar when I heard someone clear their throat.
I turned to see a man staring at me. At least he looked like he was staring at me—he was wearing sunglasses inside.
“Can I help you?” I asked, remembering to smile.
The man didn’t return the smile. With a deathly pale face and an all-black suit on his skinny, tall frame, he looked like an agent of death. “I’m here with a friend of mine,” he said, voice completely monotone. “We would like you to be our server.”
I looked over his shoulder to see a table nearest the patio occupied by a large man, his back to me. Camila was walking past him, giving me an I-don’t-know look. “That’s usually Camila’s area…” I started.
“We don’t care. My friend would like you to be our server. We will make sure you are treated justly and tipped generously.”