There she is again, leaning over her balcony, pretending to take in the laundry. Even from here, I can see her eyes sweep around for me.

She is wearing the white shirt of her school pinafore. Not exactly the most enticing but she is not wearing much else below that. A pair of dark blue shorts and red wooden clogs. In between rusty stilts of steel, I see long, fair legs, unblemished by misadventure. She is a bookworm.

As the girl struggles to haul in an awful pink bed sheet with daffodils, her eyes never leave my verandah. Disappointment slowly spreads over her face. She does not see me because I’m watching her from the shadows of the coffee shop’s kitchen.

Someone calls. Sharp irritation takes over and she answers loudly. She scans hopefully once more, and takes in a small boulder of laundry.

I return to skinning potatoes before Old Chin discovers my little voyeur. Newly naked and pale yellow, they fall into a bucket of cloudy salt water, ready to be sliced and diced for a variety of tomorrow’s offerings of ‘economy rice’ at the stall, a staple among the working masses in our town. Three ringgit for a plate of rice, a meat dish and a vegetable dish. If they knew how much of each day’s leftovers went into the next day’s cooking, nobody would eat it, much less pay three ringgit. Old Chin is a miserly bastard. Why else would he hire me?

This is my fifth general fiction story, originally written for nanotales but sadly, it did not get picked up.

Read the full story at A Tale A Day, my stories blog, and tell me what you think. I can take it!