A short peek into a troubled life.
|Kayla sits by the window, staring at reality on both sides of the glass.
Inside, the faded, ragged, mismatched curtains. The stained tablecloth that was there when she and her boyfriend moved in, seven years ago. The clock on the wall, with the broken face from the time he threw a bottle at it the day before he left for good. The stove, which is down to one working burner.
Outside, the old Chevy that runs, but only if there’s gas in it, and Kayla can’t afford gas this week. The clothesline she’s used since the dryer broke two years ago. The thrift store pants and shirts on the line, in various sizes that almost fit her children.
Past the Chevy and the clothesline and the overgrown shrubs and the chain link fence and the ratty house next door and the three equally ratty houses next to that lies a world beyond Kayla's means. And at the moment, her own world is practically beyond her means as well. She’s going to be late with the rent again. That’s three months in a row. The landlord’s not going to like that, but what can she do? She has five mouths to feed. And she brings home, at best, a two-mouth paycheck.
Six days a week, she rides the bus for nearly an hour to get to her job. If the bus is late, and she gets to work late, her boss docks her for an hour’s worth, unless she works late to make up for it. But that means the kids eat late, unless they get impatient and make their own dinner, which usually means something that ends up being more expensive than whatever she would have made.
When Kayla gets home late, everyone’s “schedule” (not that anything in her house follows any kind of structure) is disrupted, and everyone’s mood is crabby. And no one goes to bed happy. And, although she’s exhausted, she lies awake wondering what to do. And why she made all those bad decisions. And how to make it all work. By the time she finally falls asleep, she still hasn’t come up with any ideas. But in sleep, reality disappears. And the day is forgotten. And she dreams of paradise.