Bonnie Jean hurried up one flight of stairs to the coffee bar on the nineteenth floor. It was 7:30 in the morning and her feet ached. It was a cloudy, threatening morning at work in the law office where she held the position of kitchen attendant for the past ten years. Bonnie was angry today. Her co-worker, Leroy, had partied too late the night before and had called in sick. This meant that Bonnie had to answer to everyone, all two hundred of them in their navy suites and white shirts, and she was tired. Bonnie was tired even before she came to work. She could almost forgive Leroy if he would walk in the door right that moment. Bonnie could see him saunter in singing one of his stupid songs, “Ohhh girl….I’m justa guy…ohhhh yeah….justa average guy….” But Leroy would not come today.
Outside the sky was black and it had started to rain. Bonnie stopped for a moment and looked down from the nineteenth floor at all the people scurrying with their umbrellas. Trying to get in out of the rain. Everything was always rush, rush in the city. No time to do anything. Life was learning to deal with pain. Spending all of her life working at back breaking jobs, cleaning house, catering food, making coffee. Now there was her sick sister with nobody to care for her. Life was sure unfair for poor folks.
Bonnie dreamed of the past when she was a child. She could see herself all cleaned up in braids and a fresh cotton dress made from her grandmother’s flour sacks. Growing up in those days, family was important, one person did not have to do it all. Bonnie remembered the farm she loved as a child. Her father and mother had been employed as farm hands, and her grandparents before them. They lived in a small house behind the big one, and most of the time, Bonnie stayed in the big house because the Gibbs were such nice folks.
It was so peaceful. The little patch of land, the frame house, the stream where they fished. If she closed her eyes, she could smell her grandmother’s black-eyed peas in the pressure cooker and see those big live oaks that lined the driveway. Grandma was a good cook. She used to put up home canning in the cellar. Bonnie’s father told her not to play in there because she might step on a rattlesnake. She could smell the dampness of the cellar and see all those preserves lined up along the wall.
Bonnie remembered her brother, Eldon, swinging out over the pond and dropping from the rope into the clear water. She wondered if Eldon thought much about those days anymore now that he worked twelve hours a day at the mechanic shop. His oldest son was going to jail. Clifford wouldn’t turn out good anyway, Bonnie had always known. He always wanted to be out there with the crowd, drinking, mouthing off and…SPLAT! She jerked to attention. The coffee filters had fallen into the sink.
“Miss Bonnie, are you okay today?” asked a paralegal who was pouring herself a cup of coffee.
“Yes, I’m fine, just got a lot to do dear. Just all hands today.”
“Well, you be careful there and just don’t get in a big hurry, it can wait,” the paralegal smiled and left the coffee bar.
Reality had brought Bonnie to attention. Those were good days, forever in the past. No use to dwell on them. She left the farm when she was eighteen-years-old and took a bus to the city. That was almost thirty-five years ago, but today it was a rainy Monday in the city and there was coffee to be made. First, locate a filter that had not fallen into the sink, next one scoop of coffee put it into the machine and press the button…