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Lil’ Creamer | Alexis Zanghi

She put the phone down. Her mother had ceased speaking to her. In this sterile place, where she had nothing but a desk and a black eye and vicious chatter, her view was of the company parking lot and the adjoining factory, which on grey days seemed to hold up the sky, pinning the clouds in a position that kept it at bay. She pressed her nose to the glass.

The company kept a small methadone clinic on the first floor of its offices that remained its sole concession to the outside world and a valuable tax write-off. She spent her lunch breaks smoking with the clinic’s clients in the designated area, the only person in a blazer and stockings.

A white truck bearing the Lil’ Creamer logo – the smiling face of a child whose gender had remained inscrutable for decades – appeared in the lower left hand corner of her window. By this point, it had traversed the ground between the factory and the company’s offices, passing the smoking and recovering along the way. It moved like a new driver would; inching unassumingly through the first column of cars – some flashy, some sensible, all of them uniformly washed and gleaming with routine and stability.

The dialtone droned in her office and outside through the plate glass she heard the sharp crackles that form a siren’s overture. She was sure that if her mother did call, she would answer on a phone that her mother would not begin to know how to operate. While her classmates scanned classified advertisements for a paycheck, she sat in an ergonomic chair, at an unobtrusively modern desk with a glossy diploma – a better looking testament to her debt than the envelopes that arrived every month.

Absent of her presence and the desk’s singular garnish, office conversation would turn to her previous involvement with the vice-president’s son. They had been friends in childhood and lovers in college, and now that the ties of protracted adolescence stretched themselves into a newer, wider world he would not answer his phone for her and the whole thing made her feel like she had a gas stitch, all the time. And when she left the building to smoke, or stood up to get another glass of milk in the company cafeteria, her co-workers chirped with new exaggerations of her incompetence – which was minimal, she was sure – all because she had sat in the company box when she was nineteen.

Blue and white broke upwards across the glass and the Lil’ Creamer truck ran upwards and over and away, racing towards the large ribbon of concrete that preceded the parking lot. She wanted to be in the passenger seat of that truck, speeding away with artificially preserved cakes to an irrelevant destination, in control of nothing but in possession of a vast abundance.

The sirens reached a crescendo and underneath it, she heard the cold pings of the company switchboard. Her desk was three feet from the window but it was years away.


Alexis Zanghi lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.

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