The constant drone rang in her ears, not loud enough to hurt, but loud enough to annoy. Karen sat on the couch and turned the television up. She hated the television, but since the radio had broken it was the only thing that gave her any escape. The light flickered through the flat. She looked around. This wasn’t what she’d planned on. A small flat on the second floor between two apartment buildings with a view of air-conditioning units and filth. She thought by the time she was forty she’d at least have a view. Even if it was of a brick wall, it would be better than this.
It was too hot to have the air con off, but too loud to sleep. She hadn’t sleep a full night for months, or so it felt. The clock read 4:24. Four hours until she had to leave for work.
Infomercial, infomercial, commercial, infomercial, infomercial, infomercial. There wasn’t even a decent crappy sitcom to take her mind off things. She drifted off, although whether you could call it sleep or not would be debatable. The next time she checked the clock is was 8:18. Now she barely had time for a shower. She threw herself in, threw herself out and tried to ignore the grit on the towel as she dried herself.
At work, she set up her workstation, checked herself in the mirror and nodded to the apprentice to send through her first client. The air conditioning unit coughed and kicked in. The pop music attempted to drown it out.
“Mrs Jackson! So, lovely to see you – just a trim? Fabulous! Oh, it is warm, isn’t it? Yes, thank goodness of air conditioning! Oh, you poor thing. It’s terrible when you can’t sleep.”
Her training had taught her to lie to the client. No client wanted a whinging hairdresser. She concentrated on cutting and tried to ignore the feeling that she was dying inside.