Annie Delmedico


Jen Mei Soong

Shift Drink

Annie Delmedico

Drink tequila for your shift drink, learn to balance plates on your wrists, do smiling, do laughing, dump dishes into the dirty bin and dodge the splash, lie to your therapist, ruin your credit score, borrow books with your kindergarten library card, watch people do karaoke, watch The Birds, watch Sex and the City reruns with your mother, maintain you really are a Carrie, repeat a joke you heard that the fifth main character is New York City, drink gin for your shift drink, pack leftovers into compostable coffins, kick customers out for doing it in the single-stall bathroom, make friends with the sixteen-year-old hostesses, listen to them complain about curfews and the SAT, make friends with bartender Connell, drink Modelos with bartender Connell, chew your fingernails while bartender Connell tracks down drugs, feel surprised at the earnestness of the patchwork quilt on bartender Connell’s bed, fake it so good you almost come for real, cut bangs, cry when your mother says they don’t do it for her, slip from bars past midnight, stand at intersection corners, cross your eyes and make the traffic lights blur, red red, red green, drink whiskey for your shift drink, check IDs, refuse to serve teens, feel like you really showed them when they don’t tip, tell bartender Connell his taste in music is so good, tell bartender Connell his favorite song makes you understand, promise yourself you won’t fake it this time, fake it so good you hear applause, develop urinary infections resistant to antibiotics, imagine your insides blooming like toxic pink algae on a lake, do water aerobics with the old people at the YMCA, tell the old people at the YMCA you will definitely read their pamphlet about God, read an article about the film crew of The Birds throwing live ravens at Tippi Hedren to achieve the intensity of real fear, watch more Sex and the City, wish the fifth main character was Tippi Hedren instead of New York, imagine her jaywalking in Manolos, imagine her crushing the neck of a pigeon with a $1,000 heel, read a text from bartender Connell that you gave him chlamydia, pick a scab on your ankle in the waiting room of an urgent care, text bartender Connell that actually he must’ve gotten chlamydia somewhere else, attend a funeral, cry until it hurts, read the God pamphlet from the old people at the YMCA in the parking lot, listen to bartender Connell’s favorite song, think about the bad things that have happened to you, feel selfish and mean, return your library books on time, drink mezcal for your shift drink, listen to the hostesses complain about botched promposals and guidance counselors, tell them high school ends up okay, tell them it’s about to get so exciting, tell them your whole life is ahead of you, your whole life, hurtling out from your chest like a meteor, can’t you see it? All the lights are green. Can’t you see it? It’s exactly how you imagined, it’s exactly what you want.

Annie Delmedico is a writer from North Carolina. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of California at Davis. Her fiction has appeared in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine.