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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 30 page 09

.../

Matt holds his phone out. Joni blinks at it.

“I mean, you have to call. The cops.”

Joni stares.

“To file a report. About what happened. I’ll leave you to.”

“No.”

Matt stares. Joni stares. Her insides feel as though she’s swallowed a bucket of ice water. Stiff and solid. Her heart still thuds, overheating.

“What do you—”

“I can’t.”

“Joni, I can’t do anything unless you...”

“I...”

Matt bows his head. “I’m sorry. It’s probably time to get to work.”

The door opens again, and this time he leaves it open. People in matching black dresses and suits pause in the hallway and peer in at her, still in her jeans and salt-crusted winter coat. Hunched over in the satin dining chair.

Joni stares at the phone he’s left on the table. Tries to imagine words she might use. Tries to imagine reaching her bruised arm forward to touch the table, feel out for the phone.

When she walks down to the laundry room the towels are gone. In the bathroom she sees they are already folded, not the way she usually does them. She stares in the mirror a moment, but her own image won’t slide into focus. What does she look like. Is this it. Is it not.

In the servers’ room the coffee is made. The sugar dishes are filled. The wine glasses, of which she will shatter twelve through the evening, jumping violently every time someone enters the room, have been shined.

Joni pours herself a cup of coffee and waits for the pre-service meeting, where the first glass will break as he walks in.

...

A year and a half later, she’ll be sitting in the office waiting for her tax slip, which she had to pick up since they lacked a forwarding address for her when she suddenly quit last February. She was glad for the chance to catch up with Carol, the sommelier.

“Can you believe Matt got a role on a new TV show they are filming here. It’s so incredible.”

Then Carol will look at her seriously for a moment, before whispering, “Derrick’s here, you know. Do you want me to let you out the kitchen door?”

Joni will sigh and fold the tax slip into her purse and shake her head. “No. I want to say hi to the other folks upstairs. I’m sure I will be fine.”

Joni will stop at the hostess stand, who will ask about her new job. Mid-sentence, her eye will catch on the bar, where Derrick has evidently been promoted as a bartender. The sight of him tipping a wine bottle over the glasses of a couple of women up at the bar will wash through her like bleach. She will choke as he catches her eye with a cold stare.

“I’m sorry. I gotta. Um. Be careful.”

And she’ll be gasping on the fire escape. Shattered glass at his feet. Or she’ll be hiding in the bathroom, the edges of her reflection slowly re-emerging. Or she’ll be standing on the thawing sidewalk, staring at her phone, wishing she could dial that number and report.