“You look sicker than normal.”
The younger furniture mover reclined in her seat, cradling her dark-orange water bottle.
“Yeah. I feel it, too.”
The older mover readjusted his faded red cap and looked over.
“Maybe you should go home?”
She looked pale.
“My nausea is tolerable, headache manageable… and I need the hours.”
The older mover started up the truck for their morning route.
“At least it’s a short run. We should be back by 11.”
“If I knew I’d weigh you down, Jim, I’d ask Deadlift to send me home.”
“To have that young, rebellious spirit again…” They hit the road, passing through trees trimmed by the sides of semi-trucks, toward the main stretch of road leading them toward their first stop. “Before we go, let’s get you some chicken soup.” Jane could feel some growing pressure behind her ears and a delay in registering thoughts.
“Yes, that sounds good, thank you.”
They arrived at an unassuming Wiles Gas truck stop, often used by Sneaker Transport movers to innocently pad their time. “Hey, do you mind if I hit the restroom before we go?” Jim pulled into one of the open stalls in front of the convenience store and turned off the gas. “Go for it. We have about 10 minutes before we need to be on the highway.”
Jane darted in to get the key.
Jim held back and thought about the situation. ‘If she’s in there for too long, or doesn’t look much better by the time she returns, then we should head back to the shop, and let her go home early.’ He thought about calling in dispatch, but no, not yet. They were still good on time. This was an easy three-stop run with just enough of a need for a helper…
He could see Jane walking around inside the convenience store.
Jumping out, Jim met her inside. She seemed better. “Should I get these noodles or something healthier?” He looked over the dried, high-salt Acceptable-brand noodles. “Uhh… how about the soup of the day?” Jane slowly scooped up some soup into a bowl and got some crackers. Jim walked two cups of coffee over to the register. “I got her soup, too.”
They hopped back into the truck.
Jane looked only slightly better as she sipped on her chicken noodle soup. “Thanks, Jim. I’m… uhh… still not feeling that great.” He looked over. There were slight remnants of reddish food particles on her faded black concert hoodie, her face was pale, and her hair was somewhat wet. He sighed and looked more directly at her. She didn’t react.
“H-have you been drinking again?”
“No!” Her face flushed. “I’ve been good, I swear!” She nearly spilled her soup. “Sorry to press you, Jane. I don’t want what happened to my daughter to happen to you. What’s your sobriety date?” She looked him right in the eyes, tearing slightly. “I’m coming up on six months. February 15th.”
He smiled as he started the truck. “I’m proud of you.”
|Sources: My professional experiences for the furniture moving context. I never really had any conversations like this, but I’d always imagined a sobriety date to be like a code word to establish trust among close family and friends. February 15th is when I wrote a short story I’ll finish later that further explains Jane’s sobriety path.|
|Inspirations: Feeling sick, then taking it in a different direction.|
|Related: Somewhere in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story.”|
|Photo: A parking lot I walk through sometimes that has shattered glass about a quarter of the time I walk through it.|
|Written On: July 9th [1 hour] – 459 of 500 words.|
|Last Edited: July 12th [1 hour] – This is where I drew out the sudden sobriety turn at the end.|