Janie Ahrens fell into her couch clutching the mail in one hand and her short, black, food-stained apron in the other. After lifting her feet to the coffee table, she let her head fall back onto the striped cushions, closed her eyes and sighed off the stress of Bee’s lunch rush. A strand of her imitation-blond hair fell, lying to rest on her shoulder. The conglomeration of food odors still clinging to her uniform shirt penetrated her breathing space.
After a few minutes, Janie tossed her apron onto the unstable, hand-me-down table. It clunked from the weight of pens, change, server book, and keys before sliding off the other side and landing on the dull grey, wall-to-wall, apartment carpet floor. Janie shook her head, rolled her eyes and sat up to look through her mail. Coupons, credit card offers, and Casey’s ad flyer fell into the yellow, miniature trashcan Janie had pulled from under the table to between her legs. The pile diminished to a single small envelope.
Several times, she placed the card in her lap and picked it up again before finally opening the card with a shaking finger. It was a thank you note from Rianne and her new husband Ryan. Janie had been hoping for more, a personal note at the least. Reading the words quietly Janie knew she received the same words as many others.
Thank you for being a part of our very special day.
The presence of so many precious family and friends
Was certainly the perfect start to our marriage.
Ryan and Rianne
Janie put the small card back in its little envelope and dropped it into her blue plaid keepsake box—a lifetime of pictures, camp postcards, birthday cards, letters and, now, a parting note —locking its magnetic top for the last time and tucking it into her hall closet. Janie checked the date on her calendar. It was almost July. Rianne and Ryan had been married now for almost a month.
Dropping her head, Janie breathed a deep heavy sigh and then read the words aloud, to no one in particular. She checked the time on her watch. Closing her wet eyes, her head fell into her hands. She had withered away another day. Her eyes swelled from sorrow and her head caved from the penetrating tick-tock of the wall clock.