Pamela Peavey was jolted awake by the sound of breaking glass. She clumsily rolled out of bed, as she always does, and shuffled across the room to the window of her studio apartment. As she surveyed the window and observed it was intact, she heard a loud, decisive “meow” coming from the kitchen. Atop the kitchen counter was Rutherford, staring smugly at her above a shattered Budweiser bottle. “Son of a bitch,” she whispered, noticing the irony in that statement. Pamela checked the clock on the stove, which she had not changed since before Daylight Savings began. “8 AM,” she grumbled, “you fuckin’ kidding me?”
Rutherford’s orange fur was matted and dirty on account of his obesity barring him from properly bathing himself. Pamela, despite being aware of this problem for Rutherford, failed to recognize the detriments her own obesity had to her hygiene. Grabbing the pack of cigarettes from the table, Pamela waddled to the door to let the cat outside. The morning sun greeted her harshly and it was at this moment Pamela noticed her slight hangover. Lighting a cigarette, she absently watched Rutherford paw at a Styrofoam takeout container, disrupting a swarm of flies. “Dumbass,” she chuckled to herself, counting it in his penance for the broken bottle on the floor.
Pamela looked down at her stained gray Hanes beefy T. When was the last time she changed? Was that barbecue sauce? Didn’t she have Arby’s on Tuesday night? Is it Friday? Oh shit, she thought, Friday the 3rd. Rent is due in two days. Rent was, in fact, due on the first of the month. However, the section 8 housing complex implemented a five-day grace period for their residents, of which Pamela took advantage regularly. Pamela pulled out her iPhone 6 to check her banking app. She thankfully had enough to pay her $400 rent, but she realized she had only one more month of receiving unemployment compensation before she would have to figure something else out.
Putting out her cigarette, Pamela began summoning Rutherford to come back inside when she spotted her elusive neighbor Aaliyah Collins walking down the stairs and getting into the brand new Camaro parked in the apartment lot. With her chestnut brown hair flowing in the wind, and wearing a neon pink Nike athletic top and black Lululemon tights, Ms. Collins suddenly made Pamela aware of everything she was not. The sleek workout clothes fit her physically, but there was a newness to the way she wore them. It was a stark contrast to Aaliyah’s usual wardrobe of gray sweatpants and a ribbed white tank top. This was also the first time Pamela noticed the car. A bewildering fact, considering how blatantly it stood out from the rest of the early model sedans in the lot. She had to have bought it within the last week. Aaliyah pulled out of the parking lot, passing Pamela and slowing down to let Rutherford sluggishly cross in front of her as she made her way out of the driveway.
Pamela followed Rutherford back inside the apartment and closed the door behind her. Turning on some syndicated laugh track sitcom, she clumsily climbed back into bed. She popped two Advil from the bottle on her nightstand, putting off her headache and the imminent weight of finding a stable income without having to get a job.
Pamela woke up three hours later, this time by hunger. She grabbed the keys off the nightstand, shoved her feet into her slippers and began the walk to her car. On arrival, she hunched over her ‘89 Tercel to catch her breath for a minute before starting the car and driving to the McDonalds across the street. After ordering her usual Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, McChicken, large french fry and Diet Coke, it dawned on her that she needed cat food.
She ate her meal in the car and drove down the street to the shopping center. Finding no parking close enough to Petco for her to walk up without getting winded, she had to settle on a spot in front of Whole Foods and decided conquering new territory was less intimidating than the extra fifty steps it would take to shop in familiarity. She shuffled into Whole Foods and – ignoring the bemused expression on the employee’s face – asked where the pet food was located.
“Aisle twelve,” the clerk replied, with a hint of pity in her voice. Pamela looked up at the aisle marker in front of her. Aisle one. She looked on either side of her. Not a Rascal scooter in sight. She took the deepest breath her maxed out lung capacity could handle and began the journey across the supermarket. Huffing and puffing, she had almost made it to the pet food aisle when she saw a woman in a hot pink top and black running tights in front of her examining some shit in a bag that looked like uncooked beans.
Slightly panicking at the thought of engaging in a stop-and-chat with her neighbor she only knew from afar, Pamela kept walking in an attempt to keep a low profile. Unfortunately for her, in a place like Whole Foods, her stature and gait were not conducive to this effort. She had almost passed Aaliyah when she heard “Hey, don’t you live in my building?”
Pamela turned around slowly and gave a half hearted “I think so.” It was the first time she had spoken to a human all day and her voice came out faint and cracked. She cleared her throat. “Pamela,” she said and held out her hand.
Aaliyah introduced herself and the women shook hands. It was then Pamela saw the price on the cat food.
“Jesus,” Pamela exclaimed. “Fifteen dollars for a 7 pounder?” Pamela weighed her options between making the trek next door to Petco and letting Rutherford starve. Having exhausted herself by already coming this far, she was leaning toward the latter option. That fat shit could stand to lose a few, anyway, she thought to herself. After a pause, she said, “How does anyone afford to shop here?”
Aaliyah piped up, “I just started earning between $5000 to $8000 monthly by working online on my laptop for 5 to 8 hours daily. Previously I thought the job will be tough but contrast to my opinion it was too easy sometime!”
“Yeah?” Pamela entertained.
“Yes. I myself wonder how easy the job is for such big money. Are you interested in becoming wealthy to do freelance?”
After hearing her neighbor articulate her impressively well-paying job without employing proper grammatical rules, Pamela had no concerns with her own qualifications. She didn’t know what “freelance” meant, she just knew she wanted to do it. Her only concern at this point was with how she was going to get out of this grocery store, but she wouldn’t let that take the wind out of her sails now. She had found a solution to her income problem.
“Well Aaliyah,” Pamela grinned, “sign me up.”.