by Anna Zilbermints
I am pleasant voice and wide eyes, black Oreo crumbs in the just out of reach corners of lips saying “Thank you, have a great day!” Candy coated words inviting nicknames like Sweetie, Sugar, Honey, Girl-I’m-about-to-try-this-terrible-pick-up-line-on. I make jokes and laugh at yours, because “Wow, I’ve never heard that one before! Especially not in the context of needing to keep my job!” When I ask if you’ve been out of the country in the last three weeks, I agree that a beach would be a much better setting to be in, and ignore that creepy look in your eye, dreaming of sun-soaked water, pina coladas, and lines drawn in the sand, because I can’t fight back. And that’s just how you like me, isn’t it? I am stuck behind A desk, a set of rules, and some self de-escalation techniques. Now maybe, I’m just really good at faking it, or maybe, you’re just really bad at catching it, because I am PERFECTED RETAIL VOICE and like seventeen dark bags under my eyes, black chipped nail polish fighting the urge to show what I really think of you. Hands clutching the edge of the counter to keep from making fists when I hear lines like “Maybe if you didn’t have a man, we could talk about a different kind of membership,” laughing uncomfortably because what else can I do? while dreaming of being as far away from you as possible. It doesn’t have to be a beach, but it makes it a lot easier to draw lines Bitch. And god, do I need a strong drink— oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean with you, I like someone who’s literary, and you can’t even seem to read a room— because I am not the girl you’d call Sweetie in a bar. I just had a shot of Carolina reaper vodka, ready to breathe fire in your eyes. And I’m off the clock. So call me Sweetie one more time. --- Anna Zilbermints is a graduate of the University of Iowa in English and psychology. She is a poet of both the written and spoken word varieties, having poems published through Poets' Choice and Wingless Dreamer, as well as a forthcoming video to be posted by Button Poetry.