“Hey, Meggs, are you coming tonight?” Sidney asked her.
“Nah, I have a shift at the club tonight,” answered Maggie apologetically. It was always like this in the past two years since her mother got sick. At first, when they found out about cancer that her mother had, Maggie quit her school to find a job. Soon, one job wasn’t enough, so she found another one. Now, two years later, she had three jobs, with more than a hundred working hours a week, two mortgages on their house, and a mother that just started to recover.
“Ok, well, maybe next time...” Sidney shrugged her shoulders in response, but they both knew that it was a slim chance of her joining them for the night out.
When Maggie dropped her classes in college, she had support from her friends. At first. But after a couple of months, when time after time she couldn’t squeeze in her friends in her tight schedule between jobs, they started to call her less frequently until their calls stopped altogether. Now, she would get a message from time to time, but they only reminded her of the life she had to give up.
Now, she had some new friends, people she worked with. They were there to make her laugh and make her job easier that way since there wasn’t much anyone could do for her. Everyone had their own cross to bear, and she bore hers with pride.
“Wow, Meggs, you have a new hot piece in your sector,” Sidney whispered on her way to the kitchen.
Maggie looked at the tables she was waiting, and there indeed was a new face at one of the tables just settling down. She glanced at her wristwatch and sighed before making her way across the restaurant towards the new guest. It was half-past three, and her shift should end in thirty minutes. Just the thought of getting out of here made her smile.
“Good afternoon, sir. Are you ready to order?” she tried her best to always sound polite, no matter how tired she was.
The guy looked up from the menu, scanning her body on his way up until he met her eyes. Maggie had an urge to roll her eyes at this, but she restrained herself. She should be used to this by now, she thought.
“Yes. Coffee, please. Black, no sugar.” his deep voice rang in her ears and sent chills down her spine. It was so long ago since a man had an effect like this on her. She managed to nod her head before she turned around and headed towards the bar where she placed the order and waited for the bartender, Mike, to prepare it.
“So, I guess you’re not coming tonight...?” she heard Mike’s question that sounded more like a statement.
“You are right,” she said lazily, biting on her lower lip.
“Hey, so is he hot or what?” Sidney showed up next to her.
“I wouldn’t know.” Maggie shrugged her shoulders before she took the coffee and made her way to the guest. Now that Sidney has mentioned it, her imagination came to life, so she made sure to check him out on her way there. He, for sure, was something. He looked older, but everything else about him was impeccable, from his obviously expensive suit to his shiny shoes... his haircut was perfect, and there was not a single hair out of its place. His face was serious, and when she met those eyes again, dark and cold, she almost slipped on her way there.
“Enjoy your coffee, sir,” she said while placing the cup on the glass mug on the table.
“Thank you,” the guy said, casting his eyes downwards to the name tag on the left side of her shirt “Maggie,” he added when he read the name.
Maggie gave him another polite smile and retreated. Her shift was almost over, and she saw that Johanna, who is supposed to take over her tables, has just arrived, so Maggie decided to cut it short for a few minutes. Today was slower than usual, so she wouldn’t be missed anyway.
“Hi, Jo,” Maggie greeted her colleague. “How are you?”
“Good, thanks. You can go now. I know you have a shift at the club later.” Johanna winked at her.
“Thanks, babe, see you tomorrow.” and with that, Maggie grabbed her bag, slid it across the shoulder, and left.
It took her a couple of minutes to get to the bus station, where she waited less than a minute for her bus to arrive. She took the nearest available seat since her legs were killing her already and the busiest part of her day is yet to come. From the marina, where the restaurant she worked at was, it took her almost 20 minutes on the bus to get to Hampton park, where her home was.
A couple of minutes on foot more, and she was inside her house. She locked the door, went into the living room, and threw herself on the old sofa. A couple of minutes to relax was all of the luxuries she could afford now since in a couple of hours, she would have to go to the club where she worked for four nights a week. Tomorrow, after a whole month, she will have a day off, and she couldn’t wait for it. Just the thought of sleeping in the next morning made her groan before she got up and headed to the bathroom to have the shower. In about half an hour, two teenage neighbors will be coming over for the dress try-on. She was using her mother’s sewing machine to make dresses for the local girls. Her mother, Rebecca, used to do in her free time for some extra cash, and it was the reason why Maggie loved to sew herself. It turned out that she had more than enough talent to make creative and unique dresses, and the girls loved them. Under some other circumstances, in another life, she could make a career out of it.
Just when she got out of the shower, she heard the doorbell ring. Maggie wrapped her wet hair in the only clean towel she could find and headed to open the door, thinking how she would have to do the laundry first thing tomorrow. Just as she thought, the two schoolgirls were there, so she let them in. They tried the dresses, and Maggie made sure to pin every place that needed fixing before they left.
“Can you come over tomorrow? Same time? It will be done?” she asked.
“Yeah, sure. See ya. Bye,”
“Bye, girls,” she walked them out. Before she closed the door, her eyes caught an unfamiliar car parked down the street. She grew up in this neighborhood, she knew everybody who lived here, she knew their families and what kind of cars they were driving... but that was probably someone interested in buying a house from the Smith family, she thought and went into her room to get ready for her next shift.
While getting dressed, she thought about how canonically tired she was and wondered how much more she could take it before she collapses, but ever since she got news from the doctor that the new treatment her mother was on was showing promising signs, she worked her ass off even more.
Maggie pulled her once curly hair into a tight bun on the top of her head, put on black jeans, a white tee-shirt that was part of her uniform for the night, and comfortable flats. Before she even knew it, it was seven o’clock, so she hurried to catch a bus downtown. Traffic was not jammed, so she arrived in about 15 minutes at the club, which gave her just enough time to leave her things in the back before she checked in with the manager, took her tray, and started to make rounds around the well-known club.
It was the middle of July, so the town was crowded with tourists. The club where she worked at, The Spot, attracted its fair share of tourists, especially when they had live music like tonight. More people at the club meant more tips, so she never complained about that.
After the first round, Maggie went to the bar to give the bartender her orders, and as soon as he saw her coming, he prepared a glass of water with ice for her.
“Thanks, Bo,” she took the water and gulped it in one go. The two of them exchanged a few friendly words while he prepared the drinks for her, and as soon as he put them on the bar, she continued her work.
Halfway into the night, at one of her tables, a familiar face appeared, but she couldn’t quite put-a-finger on where she saw him before. She was seeing so many people each day, and she couldn’t keep up. Every new face looked the same. But sometimes, rarely, she would notice something special about someone, and it helped her remember a face.
The guy was sitting alone, and before she could ask him what about his order, he scanned her body up and down, half lazily, not even trying to hide that he was checking her out before he spoke: “Whiskey. On rocks.” and Maggie just nodded in acknowledgment. He repeated the same order two more times before he paid and left, leaving a generous tip.
The night for Maggie was tiring but productive, she returned home two hours past midnight and went straight to bed, feeling every muscle in her body aching in protest before a dreamless sleep came to her and allowed her some much-needed rest.