Around 14 hours ago...
Reilei closed the door behind her as she left out of the apartment with a smile on her face. Every day she would leave for her third job around this time to a nearby late-night restaurant as a waitress.
When she heard the sound of that door close all the way the smile on her face slowly vanished and was replaced by an expression of exhaustion. Reilei worked around 18 hours every day and had not taken a bit of time off since she was married. When Reilei’s now ex-husband left her and Jin behind, she had no money, no job, she was just a normal housewife not used to working at all. But nonetheless, she persevered because she knew that she had to take care of the only important person left in her life, Jin.
There were many times where he suggested that he take a job and work but she would not allow it. He was still young and full of life with dreams, Reilei would never be able to forgive herself if she got in the way of that. So even if this was a burden she had to carry alone, she would do so for the sake of her son and his dreams.
Reilei gave herself a light slap on the cheeks and slightly shook her head and soon after a smile once again found its way to her face. "You can’t let Jin see you like this Reilei. Keep it together" she thought to herself as she began to walk down the street heading to work.
The restaurant wasn’t a very far walk from the apartment she lived in and so the commute was not bad.
After walking for around 5 minutes, Reilei noticed a group of three guys hanging out on the sidewalk rolling dice and throwing money down. She recognized the group as some local small-time gangsters that always bullied Jin when they had the chance. They were always up to no good and was a troublesome batch of youths with no direction in life.
Reilei decided to simply cross the street to the other sidewalk and continue onward. But as she passed by them on the opposite side, one of the gang members was looking over in her direction and tapped the guy next to him with his elbow.
"Hey hey, check her out. She’s freaking hot bro!"
The guy who was tapped looked over to where his friend was and saw Reilei. "Oh yeah! Dan, that’s who I was telling you about! That’s the mother of that loser we always run into. What’s his name again... Lin? Fin? Something stupid like that. Anyways, what did I tell you? She’s a freakin’ beauty right? How the heck is that loser even related to her?"
"You mean that brat Jin? Haha, I’ve known that bastard since primary school, he was always just a nerd with his face stuck in video games all day" the third guy ogled at Reilei. "Man... Her husband must’ve been blind to leave something like that... I’m gonna go talk to her, lay down some moves. Just sit back Dan and Victor, let a pro show you how its done" the third guy got up and started walking over.
"How fast do you think Rhodes is gonna get shut down?" Dan said as he laughed it off.
"I give him 3 seconds tops, and that’s me being generous" Victor responded as he shook his head.
They were speaking so loud that Reilei had no trouble hearing them from all the way across the street. When she heard them speaking she decided to speed up her walking pace. These kids were around the same age as her son, so she felt a bit sick hearing them speak about her in such an inappropriate manner.
"Hey! Wait for a second!" Rhodes called out to Reilei, however, she kept walking not paying him any mind. This agitated Rhodes as he started to run to catch up with her, stopping in front of her which caused Reilei to be startled and halt her steps. "I was calling out for you. Didn’t you hear me?" Rhodes spoke in what he believed to be the voice of prince charming, but the way he sounded only made Reilei feel disgusted.
"I have to get to work soon. If you’ll excuse me" Reilei tried to step around Rhodes but he quickly blocked her path once more causing her to frown.
"Don’t worry I can pay you for your ’time’ if you want heh. What? Too good for someone like me? I know you can use it right?"
Reilei shivered from head to toe. She had never been so humiliated and infuriated before! But she held herself back from erupting and spoke in an emotionless and calm voice, "I have no interest, so I’ll kindly decline your offer. Now, I must get to work before I’m late" Reilei slipped past Rhodes not bothering to wait for him to respond.
"Hey, I’m still talking to you!" Rhodes reached out and grabbed Reilei by her wrist tightly.
Reilei winced from the pain, it felt as though her fragile wrist would snap at any time. "Y... You’re hurting me..!" she tried to pull her wrist away from Rhodes but his grip was too strong.
"Hurting you? I just wanted to talk to you and maybe take you out. You want to act all stuck up like I’m not worth your time?!" Rhodes never had much luck with ladies. In fact, when he was in high school there were plenty of beautiful girls he wanted as a girlfriend, but they all ignored him and wouldn’t give him the time of day. So when Reilei rejected him just now it brought back up those bad memories and upset him a great deal. "I’ll show you what really hurts" his grip around Reilei’s wrist tightened as he lifted his hand up about to slap her.
Dan and Victor were already rushing over and managed to make it there in time to stop him. "What are you doing bro?! You trying to get the cops after us or something?!" Dan said as they were holding Rhodes back. Even though they might do some bad things it was only the occasional street fighting or robbing someone, but Rhodes seemed like he wanted to do something completely different!
"Dude, just let it go! Come on, let’s just get outta here, she won’t say nothin’!" Victor said trying to calm Rhodes down. He was like a loose cannon sometimes, so there was no telling what he’d do to this woman if he got pissed off.
While Dan and Victor were holding Rhodes back, his grip loosened on Reilei’s wrist and she immediately ran away without looking back.
"I’ll find where you work! I know your son! You hear me?! Nobody treats me like nothing! Nobody" Reilei could hear Rhodes shouting out from behind her but she did not stop running until she was completely out of sight.
Reilei was gasping for air and hunched over trying to catch her breath. She had not run so much since high school during the physical fitness test. There was a light sniffle coming from her as little droplets of water could be seen hitting the ground at her feet. But she quickly rubs her eyes and took a deep breath trying to calm herself down. But she was still shaking and could still feel the pain in her wrist from being clenched so tightly. There was a red mark left around it that made her feel as though she had been almost violated.
She felt nauseous and sick to her stomach, however, she still had to go to work. Reilei could not afford to have a single day off or else all the bills would stack up higher than they already were. "I must endure... I must..." she muttered to herself as she stood up straight. She took out a small handkerchief from her purse and wiped her eyes clean and removed some of the sweat from her face.
Since she ran for quite some time, Reilei was not too far away from where she worked and in just a few minutes arrived at the restaurant.
As soon as she entered through the door, a short and chubby man with neat and tidy hair approached her. He was the manager of the establishment and Reilei’s current boss while she worked here.
"You were almost late again Reilei. Look, I like you and you do a good job but I need workers that are going to be on time" it was becoming a common pattern now that Reilei would show up a few minutes late or just barely make it on time. Even if he wanted to play the nice guy, business was business at the end of the day.
"I apologize, I promise it will not happen again manager Benson" Reilei gave a respectful bow. She couldn’t possibly tell him of that situation that made her almost late today. It was too humiliating to even think about.
Manager Benson let out a sigh, "Alright alright, go ahead and get ready for your shift. Shelly is leaving soon so you can take over her tables" he then went back to taking care of other tasks that required his attention.
"Thank you very much" Reilei bowed once more before heading off to the employee’s changing room and swapped into her waitress clothes.
"Hey Reilei, I see Benny is still giving you a hard time hm?" a woman was sitting on one of the benches in the employee’s changing room, stretching as if she were exhausted from having just finished a long shift.
Reilei shook her head, "It’s my fault for always losing track of time Shelly. Thank you for covering for me yesterday so I could work my other job. I promise I’ll pay you back somehow" Reilei looked a touch sad. When she made that sad face with a tiny pout and looked at Shelly with those big beautiful emerald eyes, Shelly couldn’t help but to let out a long sigh and admit defeat.
Shelly giggle and said, "I told you not to worry about that Reilei. I know you have a lot on your plate since that bastard husband of yours abandoned you and your son. If you need for me to cover your shifts at times, I don’t mind. You deserve a break too you know?" the woman then stood up and went over to give Reilei a hug. "An angel like you shouldn’t have to suffer so much, so let this little devil of a friend take some of that suffering away okay?" Shelly said with a sweet smile.
A genuine smile blossomed onto Reilei’s face as she nodded her head in response. The truth was, she knew that Shelly would be willing to cover for her. But, she couldn’t take advantage of her only friend like that. She was unwilling to push her burdens onto someone else if she did not absolutely have to.
Shelly then released Reilei from the hug and said, "I’m going now. Try not to work too hard okay? Also, careful of those guys at table 13, they’re total tools" she then left out the back door of the restaurant after saying farewell to Reilei.
Reilei gave a small wave as Shelly left through the back door. She still had another two minutes before her shift began but for some reason, she could not stop shaking. She hid it well from Shelly, but as soon as they left she could no longer hold it back.
Reilei sat down on the bench with her hands placed upon her lap. She moved her left hand over to cover the bruise on her right wrist where she was grabbed earlier. Tears slowly started to stream down from her eyes as she silently wept. She curled into an upward fetal position and buried her face into her lap.
Reilei was there all alone at that moment. If not for Jin, who knows what dark thoughts would invade her mind in times like these.
"I’m sorry, Jin... I’m not strong at all... I’m not strong at all..." she muttered quietly to herself, unable to control the flow of tears...
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