It was Juanita’s job to check each plate for a single strand of hair or, god forbid, a dead fly before we stacked them three deep on trays and carried them on our shoulders up a steep flight of stairs. Once she dropped a cigarette ash on a slab of prime rib and swiped it with a towel until you couldn’t tell what was meat and not. Had we done that, she would have given us what-for, made us stay late to scrub down the inside of the walk-in cooler. Which was fine with us. We’d sneak a six-pack in there and a bottle of vodka that we’d pass back and forth. We’d help ourselves to handfuls of fresh shrimp from a plastic can and call it dinner. We’d leave that cooler gleaming, leave it drunk, stopping long enough to shuck our shoes before heading out to dance. Eight hours on our feet and all we wanted was to dance.
Sarah Freligh is the author of four books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis, and We, published by Harbor Editions in early 2021. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Fractured Lit, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018) and Best Microfiction (2019-21). Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts.