[Georgia Lee Day continued from Pitches]
The upper two shelves of the fridge were hers and hers alone, but Georgia Lee always made sure to label every item on them anyway. Growing up with an abundance of siblings and a dearth of possessions meant she guarded what little belonged to her with a particular jealousy.
The shelves were arranged evenly, all her foods' labels facing out so that no-one could claim not to've seen them. Two dozen neat little "G.L."s stared back at her as she opened the door, all written in an identical hand with a thin black marker. The same marker demarkated the levels of each item, so that nobody would be tempted to try and take some and then replace it, thinking that she wouldn't know. It was very much more of a deterrent than an actual tool of detection, of course; Georgia Lee very rarely forgot how much she had of anything.
She prided herself on her excellent visual memory.
Georgia Lee's two shelves contained the entirety of her food for the week, restocked every Saturday after her shift at the Safeway. Everything she'd consume throughout the course of the week would at some point sit here, or in a small filing cabinet beside her bed that acted as her pantry. Georgia Lee almost never ate a meal she hadn't bought and prepared herself. Her father had long ago learned not to cook for her. It bothered him, she could tell.
It wasn't as if he even liked cooking, as far as she knew, but there was some fatherly pride he had that was offended by her independence. Like her wanting to be able to look after herself as a personal insult to him. She knew what it was, of course. She knew the kind of people her parents were. Who devotes their life to taking care of sick people, putting up with dreadful hours and borderline insulting pay? Everyone said "Oh, they're nurses, they're so selfless" but that wasn't it at all, not even close. They just needed to be needed.
She'd tested this hypothesis, a number of years back. Georgia Lee had won an award for academic excellence, a state one. It had been a big deal, there'd been a ceremony at the town hall and everything, and Georgia Lee had made sure that her parents hadn't heard about it. She'd come home, casually, and placed the certificate she'd been given on the table in front of her father, and mentioned what had happened. She'd looked in his face.
There wasn't pride there. There wasn't happiness that his youngest daughter had done well, had distinguished herself however she had. He just looked hurt, upset at not being included in her triumph. Wounded at the idea that she could do just fine without him. Georgia Lee remembered fighting back a smile at the realisation that she'd been right about him.
She took out some yoghurt and placed it next to the bowl and spoon that she'd left on the counter this morning, preparing for this meal. Georgia Lee's afternoons were hectic, and anything she could do in the morning to save some time later on made her life easier. Outside the window, fat flies buffeted themselves against the glass. She looked out, past them. The yard was wild, and overgrown. It seemed to stretch on forever: the house the Days lived in was small, especially for a family of six, but the section it sat on was enormous, bought with dreams of extensions and expansion that never really materialized. When she was young itd been her refuge, somewhere to run out and hide when her sisters were tormenting her. She'd loved it, then. Now it just made a tiny house seem all the tinier, and gave flies and mosquitoes places to breed. Georgia Lee turned back to her yoghurt.
Despite themselves, her parents had helped her in a lot of ways, Georgia Lee realized. There were a dozen times, at least, that she could bring to mind when she'd wanted to give up on something or other, or wanted to ask for help, and it'd only been the memory of that pained confusion on her father's face that'd inspired her to keep going, to make something of herself, herself. All she had to do was think back to her mother biting her lip as Georgia Lee pulled up in a car she'd bought herself, with money she'd earned herself, to inspire her to never need help from them ever again.
Her phone began to vibrate. She turned it off through the fabric of her skirt pocket, without bothering to look at the screen. It was her alarm for 4 o'clock, there was no need to check it. Georgia Lee's thoughts had gotten away from her: she was running uncharacteristically late. She checked her makeup in the reflection of a stainless steel pot lid - not wanting to face the harsh fluorescence of the bathroom - and then put the lid and the bowl back into a cupboard, before dropping the yoghurt and spoon into her bag. She'd eat it in the car.
[Georgia Lee Day continued in The Library is the Power House of the Student]
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