The day was cold, and so was the crowd. All through the morning and afternoon I’d been strumming my flimsy little guitar and belting my heart out into that damn microphone, but all the money I’d managed to scrounge up just wasn’t enough for what I needed it for. I was already working the lowest amount of hours possible in my dead-end pharmacy job to have as much time for my music as I possibly could, so I didn’t just enjoy performing; I needed this money to be able to buy my food for the week. But the audience today was even more ignorant to me than usual. I’d get glances - I’d get a lot of glances - but glances didn’t put food on the table, yet glances were all I got. Gritting my teeth, I pulled my mouth away from the microphone as the song slowed to a stop and took a seat on the bench behind me, reaching for a bottle of water and uncapping it before taking a long gulp of its contents.
“... Fuck me…”
I put my head in my palms and let my frustration escape through my mouth as a long groan, muffled by my palms. It was one of those days where I felt totally drained after a long day of performing - and to make it worse, I had a night shift that same night. So only an hour or so of resting before I had to be off for my shitty job in this shitty neighbourhood in this shitty city. I wasn’t what you’d call ecstatic.
There were at least some rays of sunshine bursting through the thick rainclouds of my life, though - they took the form of my best friend, Lucy Garcia, who I caught out the corner of my eye happily striding toward me. She beamed warmly once she saw she’d caught my attention and gave me a quick wave. I took a deep breath and put a smile back on my face before meeting her half way, giving her a wave back: “Heeey, Lucy!”
“Heeey!” She called back with a naturally wide smile easily eclipsing my attempt at one. She hopped over and took both of my hands in hers - a quirk of hers, she was always a naturally touchy person like that.
“How did I know you’d be out here again, huh? At it again,” She teased: “How’s the stardom going?”
“Shut up, you,” I pulled my hands out of hers to give her a nudge - she meant well, but still, the joking caused my heart to twist a little more.
“Well I figured you’d be out here, rushing the last hour before work,” She said: “So I decided I’d come meet with you, and give you this!” She passed me a duffel bag, it being rather light in my hands. Curious, I unzipped it and took a peek inside.
“No way,” I blinked, pulling out a freshly ironed work uniform that still felt a little warm: “You… made my uniform for me?”
“Yeah!” Lucy nodded: “You can get dressed quickly in one of the public toilets, so we can hang out and get to work no problem!”
“Hold on, how’d you get my uniform in the first place?” I asked, furrowing my brow at her.
“Well… you know… you like to leave your window open,” Lucy returned, sticking her tongue out playfully. I scoffed at that: “Seriously?”
“Yes, seriously. If that’s okay with you,” She smirked, giving the bag a pat. I smirked back - I couldn’t be angry with her, I needed something like this to save this terrible day.
“So, you got something in mind for hanging out?” I asked curiously, zipping the bag shut as the two of us began wandering down the dim street.
“‘Course!” She replied: “First, though, we need to get you something to wear.”
I blinked: “Uhh… that isn’t my uniform?”
“Yep! Look at you, getting lots of clothes today huh?” Lucy teased, before hurrying off down the road. With a huff and slinging my bag over my shoulder, I made my way after her with no idea where she was taking me. My feet still hurt from standing around all day, but I tried not to let that bother me.
I soon realised where we were going, and despite how apparently obvious it was I was surprised - the clothes shop that was just round the corner, but this one was smaller than the rest. This was due to it being filled with luxury clothing, definitely not the sort I ever managed myself buying - and from the sly look Lucy was giving me, I could tell that wasn’t about to change.
The plan was a simple one; I was the pretty one, so it’d be my job to keep the employees there occupied while Lucy would sneak around for whatever she could fit under her jacket. I was used to getting in people’s faces - I used to do it an awful lot when looking for jobs, to make sure people’s attention was always on me - so it only took a few loud shouting and exaggerated swinging of my body before the whole room was staring at me in surprise and confusion. Immediately my attention turned to the closest guy in the room. With a confident grin I puffed out my chest and got up in his face - it didn’t really matter whether I made a good or bad impression, what mattered was that they couldn’t look away while Lucy snuck around them and went searching for goodies. I swung my hips and strutted around the befuddled workers - despite my act my smile was very much real, seeing them watch me and struggle to speak up only for me to simply shout over them, it made my heart flutter and put a little skip in my step. Those wide eyes… That's what I lived for. I couldn’t help but giggle, circling round them and slowly leading them toward the corner of the shop, restricting their line of sight as we all ended up in the corner together. It made it easy for Lucy to sneak back around them while I pretended to check out other clothes.
“Oh, I like this…” I cooed, pulling a sparkly mini-skirt off of the rack.
“Ma’am, please--” One of the employees began, but I just continued over to them: “D’you think this’d look good on me, huh?” I asked, lowering it around my hips and sticking my butt out playfully. The men just shuffled uncomfortably, while one other employee, this one a woman with dark hair, grabbed my arm: “Miss. You’re causing a ruckus, we don’t want you--”
“What? ‘Don’t want me’ what? Buying your stuff?” I scoffed and tossed the skirt over my shoulder: “Man oh man, the service here is terrible! Here I am trying to be excited for what you have to offer and I’m being scolded for it! Pah!” I pouted and shook my head: “What a bunch of shit.”
My eyes flicked over in the direction of the exit - Lucy had slipped out, whistling to herself as she wandered about outside, waiting for me. Taking that as my time to leave, I forcefully pushed myself through the workers: “Fine! I’m leaving, ugh. I won’t be coming here again.”
I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot as I made my way out, leaving the employees very confused behind me. I don’t think they’d forget me in a hurry, hah.
Lucy chortled jovially at me as I stepped outside: “Wow, you’re certainly somethin’, huh?” She snorted. I couldn’t help but giggle back, giving her a playful shove: “Whatever. What did you get anyway?”
Lucy smirked and pulled out two pairs of… bikinis? One bright pink and one a less saturated teal colour, both of them not the sort a humble girl would wear to say the least. I couldn’t help but frown at that revelation, and crossed my arms: “... Eh… I’m sorry, but… really?”
“Come on!” Lucy exclaimed: “You don’t get it - these are premium comfort bikinis. The real deal!”
“What does that even mean?” I asked, a brow raised.
“Well, you’ll know when you try ‘em on,” Lucy shrugged before grabbing my hand, and before I knew it we were on the move again.
I bit my lip apprehensively as we arrived at a place I’d never been to before. A pamper place? Seriously, right before work?
“Come on, we have plenty of time! Just a quick in and out to try it, it’ll be fun!” Lucy assured me, giving my sleeve a tug and trying to lead me inside. I sighed, but her optimism for this was catching and with some hesitation I followed her inside: “Okay… just a little while.”
Lucy gave some money to the worker at the front desk and we were led to some changing rooms to get dressed. Lucy giggled and hopped off into one of them, while I split off and found my own one to dress privately. I slipped off my clothes and tossed them to the side before picking up the bikini. I just stared at it for a moment, before I sighed and put it on. First thing I noticed was that it was… well, a little tightly fitting. Seemed Lucy had found some of her size instead of mine. With that being said, though… it was more comfortable than I expected! I tugged on the bra straps a little to test it - it was made of some kind of fabric: I didn’t know the specifics, but it was more comfortable than anything I’d felt before.
“Huh!” I said in surprise, looking myself over in the mirror. I giggled and shook my hips - it fit surprisingly well, too! Showed off my curves just right. Content, I stepped back out of the changing room - Lucy was there waiting for me, in her own swimwear - hers seemed to fit her much better, at least.
“Whoa, look at you!” Lucy giggled, her cheeks a little pink: “Alright, c’mon! Let’s get going.”
Oh fuck, that thirty minutes… I don’t even really remember enough to describe it. But that plays spared no expenses - I was practically out the moment I sat down, they treat you like a queen. Or… they did. But, anyway– the both of us ended up losing track of the time, as one would when they’re half asleep, so going to work totally slipped our minds. The only reason we left at all was my eyes just so happened to wander over to the clock mounted up on the wall. Needless to say, when I saw I was an hour late for work, that pulled me out of my relaxed stupor real quick.
“What the fuck?!” I shrieked, suddenly shooting up and my forehead crashing against the jaw of the man tending to my fingernails. He crumpled and my head pounded like all hell, but I didn’t have time for that - I ran out the room while Lucy called my name and pushed myself into the changing rooms. I didn’t bother taking the bikini off, I just threw my work clothes on over them and bolted out the front door in under two minutes. Dashing down the dim street, the sun having set a while ago now, I pushed my hat onto my throbbing head and ran toward the shining entrance of the corner shop. I burst through the doors and shouted: “I’m here! I’m here!”
I blinked, staring at my manager - he was giving me his usual scowl, though it looked lower than usual, and his finger was pointing right at me.
“This is the last straw, dammit!” He shouted, his cheeks growing red and puffy: “I’m sick of this - your rebel act is easily the worst thing I have to deal with in this store! I’m sick of your attitude, and you just show up late all the time! Enough!”
“Wait, hold on–” I began, but he was quick to shout over me.
“Where have you been for the last hour, Velasquez?” He asked.
“Oh, come on! It’s not like I’m late every day!” I shouted back, dodging the question - he’d already gotten me in a bad mood, he knew he didn’t like it when I was referred to by my real name: “What have I seriously missed? Everyone will be going to bed by now!”
“That’s not the point!” He shouted back, before sighing and shaking his head: “I’m supposed to be able to rely on my employees, yet all you and Lucy ever do is fuck off and do whatever you’d like! How am I supposed to rely on that, huh?”
“It’s not my fault! Lucy’s the one who told me to go slack off with her!” I returned.
“But you went along with it, didn’t you?”
“Enough!” He shouted, a growl in his gruff voice: “You don’t work here anymore.”
“You’re fired!” He repeated: “Now, just get out of my store.”
I was dumbfounded by what I just heard. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. Before I could figure out what to say, though, Lucy appeared behind me.
“Hey! What’re you doing?” She called me, and my manager’s attention instantly turned to her.
“You too– I’m sick of both of ya! You’re both fired!”
“Huh??” Lucy blinked: “What? Come on!”
I spun and glared at Lucy, jabbing a finger in her direction: “You– he– I–” Not knowing what to say or who to blame, I just let out a shout of anger and stormed down the street, not wanting to hear another word from either of them. My face was red with anger and frustration all the way back to my shitty little apartment in my shitty little neighbourhood in my shitty little life. And what did I find when I reached my home?
An eviction notice.
Too angry to even care, I slammed my shoulder against the front door until it finally gave way and stumbled into my old home. With a growl I practically tore my clothes off before I collapsed in my bed, only wearing the pink swimsuit. I fell asleep feeling lower than I ever had before, but little did I know what was waiting for me come sunrise… little did anyone know.