I’m on the roof. I’m going to jump.
Some days I wish I didn’t have a brother. No, I don’t mean that. Truly.
Stop joking around, I text back. Get back in the apartment. I can’t deal with this right now. The bakery is quiet, but I’m at work. I don’t have time for this.
When are you home? As if he hadn’t just mentioned suicide.
Same time as always. Do your homework.
Then it happens. The bell above the door jangles and a customer walks in, a woman with short hair and carrying several shopping bags.
I’m sitting on the edge of the roof. I just hope my shoe doesn’t fall off again.
“I’m so sorry,” I say to the woman. This is terrible. I can’t just not text Filip back. He reads whole paragraphs into even a minute’s pause. He’ll even recite them back to me later, about how I don’t really care about him, how I wish he’d go away. I don’t think he would ever really hurt himself, but the thought gnaws at the back of my mind. What if? What if? What if?
“I am really sorry,” I say again. Get back downstairs now! I text furiously. If Mr. George hears about this, that’s another job gone. Stupid Filip doesn’t realize he’s risking the food on our table, even our apartment. But maybe he wouldn’t care either.
What’s for dinner?
Anything you want, just get downstairs!!! The woman is pretending to browse the baked goods, clearly waiting for me. I imagine hearing those fateful words, the ones right before the end: “Can I speak to your manager?”
Ok ok I’m going.
At last. I slip my phone into my pocket and give the woman a smile. “I am truly sorry for that. What can I get for you?”
She orders a single cupcake to go. I box it up and after I give her the change, she hands me back a dollar. “For you,” she says. “You did such a nice job and it was okay you were on your phone.”
I’m not going to get fired.
The relief washes over me and tears jump to my eyes. For a moment I want to tell this woman everything, about Filip and how he drives me crazy, mostly from worry, how I need to keep this job and my night job and keep him in line and just . . . everything. She seems like someone who would listen. Instead, I grab a candy bar from the rack by the register and push it into her hands.
Thank you, I say silently. Thank you.