Seen …a short story

She looks around at her coworkers and wonders, not for the first time, what brought them all to this desolate place. For her, it was a need to be nearly invisible. A dark, drab, hole in the wall place like this suited her perfectly.

She tugged her baseball cap down a little lower. She pulled the neck of her turtleneck up under her ears. Her chin disappeared into its folds. She hunched up her shoulders and held herself in a “leave me alone” manner that seemed to keep the chit chatters away.

Her eyes darted to the left, then to the right. She’d been feeling anxious again. Uncertain of her safety. She thought it might be time to take off again. She jumped at a loud crashing noise that came from somewhere near the back of the shop.

“Woah, woah,” the gentleman at the station beside hers teased gently. “Someone probably just knocked a pallet over.”

She offered him a wan smile. He was an older gentleman. Grandfatherly. His soft blue eyes offered comfort. She felt like he could see her clearly despite the way she tucked herself out of sight. When he smiled back, it lit up his entire face.

“Nick,” he provided as he reached across his work station to offer her a handshake.

She paused just a little too long as she tried to recall what name she’d given on her application.

“Janice,” she responded at last, offering her hand.

He’d known she was lying. She couldn’t explain just how she knew that he’d known, but she was positive that he had known. Still he smiled that comforting grandfatherly smile of his as he offered up idle conversation to help pass the time.

She felt like such an ass as she let the lie linger between them. She’d have given just about anything to snatch it back as though she’d never spoken it. She’d have given just about anything to tell somebody her real name. To let somebody see her.

She mentally shook herself. It was just that kind of thinking that caused all those problems at the last place. She did her best to keep up with the idle chit chat all while never revealing any of her true self.

Still, he’d seen her. Enough of her, anyways. And now, as soon as her shift had ended, she would have to pack up and move on. Tomorrow, she’d be starting her new identity somewhere far from here.

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