“It’s a choice to be happy,”
They tell her before she slips out the door.
No response back to them,
Just a door between the remnants of broken conversations.
The cold is brutal,
She walks along the hissing cars,
Despite being sandwiched between two jackets.
Upon arriving at Papa John’s,
She’s greeted with the hot, sticky stench of burnt dough
And sweaty, flour coated employees.
“Clock in immediately,”
The floor manager snaps from behind the wall of pizza boxes.
“We have work to do.”
She works hard.
Slicing up her fingertips as she rushes to fold boxes,
Carrying what feels like tons,
Of soda bottles to stock the fridge.
Hearing the rings of the phones lighting up like fireworks,
Only to answer to furious customers over a burnt pizza,
Undercooked, doughy pizza,
Or a topping too much pizza.
Demanding a refund or to scream at another manager.
Endlessly sweeping a flour caked in dusty flour,
Scraps of trash left behind like an orphan into a dustpan to dump into another trashcan.
Exchanging worn paper bills to people who ordered carryout,
Lending them a fake smile behind a mask of thick makeup that she’ll never get back.
All of this,
For a measly eight dollars an hour.
In spite of this,
She’s okay with it.
It makes her happy for a second,
Before she’s back to the same old emptiness she felt beforehand.
Drowning in her own pain that everyone seems to ignore,
She gets out of bed,
Promising herself it’ll get better,
Only to collapse again and drown in tears of excruciating misery by the end of the day,
Hoping that someone will see it,
Praying she’ll make it to tomorrow,
Wishing that one day she can have the strength.
Hating that society despises people who don’t respond with “good,”
When asked how their doing.
Hating the fact that five medications are too much to bare,
Yet not enough to submerge the depression and anxiety.
Hating the fact that despite an entire army of people who claim they support her,
She’s never felt so alone.
And to go to church with people as fake as cartoon fantasies,
God is never there.
Sliced wrists and overdoses feel better than this.
Losing my job feels better than this.
Having emotionless sex feels better than this.
Drugs and alcohol poisoning sounds better than this.
Getting murdered sounds better than this.
Living in a messy trailer park for the rest of my days sounds better than this.
Everything right now, sounds better than this.
He comes up to her bedroom one last time,
The pale yellow light floods in and gently touches her face,
Illuminating her tears.
He says gently,
“It’s a choice to be happy.”