“Are we eating this again, Mira?”
Mira Singh looked at her six year old, half-brother, Jahan, with a sad smile as he twirled some ramen noodles around his plastic fork in dismay.
“I’m afraid so, buddy.” She told him, brushing her hand over his mop of dark curls.
They were having dinner at their fold out table in the corner of their studio apartment. It was all she could afford and she hated that it was situated in a shady part of town.
Ever since their mother, Preeti, died a year ago from a hit and run, things had been hard for them, both financially and emotionally, as her mother hadn’t had a dime to spare having immigrated to the United States from Delhi to start a new life away from her family.
Mira didn’t know who her father was, having left when she was just a baby. Her mother never liked to talk about him either and told her it was for the best her not knowing.
Preeti had met Jahan's father at work and they had dated for a year until she found out he was married. Unfortunately, by that time she’d already been pregnant with Jahan and the father wanted nothing to do with either of them. They had no other family that they knew of, leaving them all alone.
Now, she was left with the task of raising this little boy and keeping her part-time job as a waitress at a local restaurant chain.
“Next time I’ll bring you something back from work okay?”
She watched as his face lit up and he continued eating with more gusto. She really hated that she couldn’t take better care of him. Then she sighed remembering that she was only twenty-three years old and she was doing the best she could in their difficult situation. She had to drop out of college and could only get a part-time job. When things were better she’d look at going to night school so that she could finish her degree in Finance. She was actually really good with numbers.
After helping Jahan shower and dress for bed, she read him a short bed time story and tucked him in, leaving the little airplane night light on by his bedside.
She took a quick shower as there was barely any hot water left and by the time her head hit the pillow, she fell into a fitful sleep.
It was just before noon when she walked into work the next day, having already dropped Jahan off at school earlier that morning. Her best friend and fellow waitress, Kaley Matthers, met her at the door.
Mira returned the greeting while stifling a yawn.
The quirky blonde had red streaks in her hair and two piercings, one in her nose and one on her lower lip. Like Mira, she wore the usual black jeans and black shirt that was the customary uniform. However, while Kaley was reed-thin with legs that went on for days, Mira was petite and curvy due to her East Indian Heritage.
“So before we start, I wanted to run something past you.” Kaley told her, as they walked to the back room to get ready.
She handed Mira an apron which she tied on quickly and pulled a hair tie out to contain the mass of chocolate colored curls from getting in her face while working.
“What’s that?” Mira asked distractedly. She’d barely gotten any sleep that night because Jahan woke her up with a tummy ache and it took over an hour to get him settled into bed again.
“I’ve got a catering gig at Nicholai Bach’s house on the hill.” She began excitedly, “It’s supposed to be this huge launch of his new media empire. My boss is looking for some extra hands and I know you need the cash.”
She was right, Mira did need it.
“Plus.” Kaley added with a knowing look at her friend, “Have you seen this Nicholai guy?” Kaley pretended to swoon, “He’s like some young billionaire bachelor mogul or something.”
She’d never laid eyes on the guy but she already disliked him on principle.
“Must be a complete womanizer.” She told Kaley, with a shrug.
Kaley stared at her.
“Who cares? Let’s go have a look!”
“I really want to take the job Kal but I will have to see if Mrs. Morris will babysit Jahan for me first.” She hedged, referring to her elderly next door neighbor.
Kaley waved a hand dismissively.
“If she can’t do it, bring him over to my house and my mom can watch him for a few. But you are coming with me.” She said with finality.
Mira took one glance at her friend’s determined face and realized she didn’t have a choice. Besides, anything that gave her extra cash couldn’t be totally bad.