A Raymond Carver Style Short Story
By Esther Eisen
The alarm rings. I sit up and look at my messy apartment. I get up and take a
quick shower before putting on my uniform. It still smells from yesterday. I finish up
getting ready and walk to the bus stop.
The bus comes and it’s the same bus driver as usual. We nod at each other
and then I go and sit down. I overhear two teenagers.
“Oh my god, I hate school,” she says.
“It’s the worst. I’m so stressed. I just want to go home,” he says.
“I can’t wait to graduate and move on. I hate the whole high school
atmosphere. Just looking at the building gives me chills,” she says.
“Same. It’s so gross. Just yesterday I felt gum under my desk. Isn’t it
someone’s job to make sure it isn’t there?” He says.
I feel my face flush. I clench my fists. I take deep breaths and move to the
Other ends of the bus.
As I walk to the back door of the school, I see my co-worker, Andrew. We
started working here the same year.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I say.
“How’s it going?” he says.
“It’s alright,” I say.
“Same,” he says.
I walk to the basement and into the room. As I walk through the halls, I hear
conversations among the students.
“I want the new iPhone because I’ve had mine for a year and sometimes it
freezes”, she says.
I look down at my flip phone as I hear a boy say, “Yeah, I’m getting a car for
my grad present. But it better not is some junk car or else I’m going to be mad.”
Once I’m in the room, I grab my equipment and walk up to the top floor girls’
“Anyone in here?” I say.
“Yes,” a girl says.
I wait 3 minutes. The girl walks out. She looks me up and down and then
walks away. I walk in and mop the floors. I could do this in my sleep.
My pager buzzes. It’s the boss.
“Kid threw up in room 142. Take care of it, would ya?” He says.
“Yes Sir,” I say.
The day goes on and eventually, my day is finished. I don’t have money for the
bus ride home so I walk.
“Got any food?” a homeless man says.
“Sorry, man,” I say.
I climb the stairs past the urine to my apartment.
6:30 AM. I wake up and repeat my day. I do the same job, see the same
people, wear the same clothes. But today feels different. There’s a new kid on the
“Welcome to the job,” I say.
“Thanks. I have some first-day nerves but it should be fine. How long you
been doin’ this? ” he says.
“Twenty years,” I say.
“Do you like it here?” he says.
“It pays the bills”, I say. “I’ll give you the tour and show you how things work
for the first few days,” I say.
This means I have double the work to do but my boss told me to and I can’t
say no. Today isn’t all bad though; it’s payday.
I go to the convenient store to get my lottery tickets.
“Payday, huh?” the clerk says.
“Yep,” I say.
“you’re usual?” she says.
“Yep,” I say. I pull out the $500 I cashed at the bank.
The clerk hands me my stack of tickets. “Good luck,” she says.
“See you in two weeks,” I say.
“See ya,” she says.
The next day I get up and go to work. I wash the floors, I clean the toilet
bowls, I refill the soap. After work, I go to a pub so I can watch the TV. I put aside a
few bucks for a beer and rent. I stay for a while and watch the soccer game. I talk to
a few women and almost bring one home. I stay late to hear the winning numbers.
The next day I wake up and go to work. Andrew sees me.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I say.
“What’s new?” He says.
“Not much,” I say.