It’s Important by Taylor Napolsky
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Approaching the register, the employee working it slid Pauline an electronic slate and
accompanying pen to write down what she wanted. At the same time there was activity going on behind her, right next to where she had settled herself for the afternoon.
She looked back and saw another employee approaching the man at the table beside hers: “Your cab’s here Wesley,” she was saying to him.
She directed her attention back to the electronic slate, picked up the pen and wrote something, in rather sloppy handwriting—half-reality
Not what she had been planning on writing. But that was it. The employee at the reg took it and looked at it, eyeing it for far longer than it would take to read—so he must have been reading it over and over, she figured; maybe that and also really contemplating it.
The chatter behind her had died down and Pauline turned that way again. Now they all were gone. She looked out the broad, floor to ceiling windows along the wall, searching for a cab pulled up, or for the woman maybe walking the man to his cab. Nothing though.
Just then she had a flash of an image of she herself getting into the cab, possibly bumping the man out of the way to get in it.
She turned back to the reg. The man working it was giving her a nod and pointing to the slate: which he had wiped clean and written on it, in much more elegant handwriting than Pauline had used.
We must ensure our survival
And the whole length of the interior floor was just one enormous cab then, where there was
nobody, nobody from before.
Seconds later, squeezed between the impervious body of the cab and the counter, she pulled out a bill from her wallet in her bag and placed it—threw it practically—into the tip jar, which she noticed was empty aside from a few scattered dimes and nickels, saying, “thank you, thank you” (to nobody, it appeared) though no matter how many times she said that she still felt like an ingrate.
Taylor Napolsky’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as The Lindenwood Review, Impossible Task, Deluge, and others. They live in Seattle. Visit them online at taylornapolsky.com.