The suffering is a collection of silences waiting to be inflicted. A credit card cuts right through the chip reader, splitting the cord, leaving the screen in shambles. Some pronouncement must stand between her and the customer, and the counter does fine.
This week, in her cafe apartment, she wakes to the steps of men. She has blinds, but they are not what she sees. The blinds are just smaller cracks to chink out. Men in the window is never a good thing. They’re the worst things to have in there, one cardholder says. She begs the roofers to fall to their death, but they would only be as singular as birds discrashing from the sky to peck at stone crumbs. Customers are deaf to what sounds ornery enough to ignore. The occasional sympathizer passes through, but mostly about her hair.
When she was young enough not to have her job, her step-away father brought her far enough on the roof to shingle whatever needed to be de-leaked, so she had never been on the underside of those steps, had always lived floored. One life at a time. A thought, once salient, could step through her as she slept, clapping his breaking legs to the grass again and again.
That was the counter between her and the world, making every step she heard a patricide. He didn’t die but she wished, she wisted. She could be under his boots with any customer working his way into her window.
Max Oginz is a graduate of Concordia University’s Creative Writing program. He was a Tent: Creative Writing fellow at The Yiddish Book Center in 2016. He lives in San Francisco.