Finally, I can shut the store. Customers have not been visiting for the past half an hour and that is usually my indicator that it is time to close the shop. So I trudged towards the store front to pull the shutter half way down. That would be the universal sign to tell everyone ‘We’re closed for today’ without putting on an actual sign.
My colleagues began to stir their bones which had been inactive for the past half an hour and got about to the usual cleaning routine that we perform at the end of everyday.
“Music for tonight?” Zhao offered?
“CLUB MUSIC!” I automatically yelled.
“Hell yeah!” Zhao approved with a huge smile beaming from ear to ear.
Within minutes, the humble sandwich store transformed into a disco club. My colleagues and I were grooving and dancing like nobody was watching. I used my mop as my dance partner and as a walking stick prop that Charlie Chaplin uses to dance. I whirled it around, let it fall and caught it before it hit the ground, then I scrubbed the floor to the beat. Before I knew it, I had finished mopping my area, marking the end of my closing duties. Time to rest!
“Good dance, mi’lady!” I wiped sweat from my brow as I thanked my mop before setting her aside. “I’ll call you tomorrow!”
“Stop talking to your mop weih!” Zhao yelled from across the room.
Oops! He overheard me! Embarrassed, I smiled sheepishly back.
“Have you taken out the trash?” Zhao asked.
Shit. It was an unspoken agreement that whichever employee that completed his closing duties first had to take out the trash. Reluctantly, I sauntered over to the dustbins to put their contents outside.
The outside air was unexpectedly cool, despite the air conditioning outside. The moon was bright and round as well. I set the trash bags down and took my time to admire the night ambiance. Out of habit, I glanced at the floor. I realized it was a huge mistake, but it was too late. The floor was peppered with cigarette butts. An otherwise innocent image of littering wrenched from the back of my unconsciousness, a painful memory.
I remembered how we used to smoke together, admiring the same bright and round moon. We used to sit anywhere at all, comfort was never the issue when we were together. You would rest your head on my shoulder, and I would inhale the fragrance from your perfumed shampoo. She used to joke that if she stopped using perfumed shampoo, she would not smell as good and I would not love her anymore. I remember how I brushed that comment off with “Nonsense,” before pulling her tight by my side, telling her how “I’ll never let you go.”
I stared at the floor solemnly as I recalled the sweet memories, and I was shaken from my reverie as the floor got darker and the cigarette butts vanished from vision as they blended with the rest of the darkness. The moon had disappeared behind the clouds.
The moon had disappeared behind the clouds. But that is temporary. How long are you going to disappear for?