He was her boss, the one whose bold signature was stamped on the checks she stood in line to collect from the cashier's office at 425 Locust Street. Twice a month, like clockwork. On the 15th and the 30th.
She drove straight to the bank after she tucked it securely in the inner pocket of the logo-embossed Coach handbag that had been a birthday gift from her husband two years ago. The first time she received her paycheck her eyes kept straying from the road ahead to peek into the pocket, once, twice, thrice to make sure, yes, it's still there. By the time she handed it over to the teller for direct deposit, her fingers were clammy from the effort of keeping it safe.
She was grateful for the job. Yes, she was. She'd sent out 50 resumes just like her college counselor advised her to do. "Keep trying," Mrs. Gomez said kindly, letting her wizened hand rest lightly on Anika's tightly clenched fist. Anika felt bereft when Mrs. Gomez removed her hand and forced herself to concentrate. "It's the bad economy, the recession, dear. Nobody's hiring." Especially, not anybody with an accent. Anika could hear her inner critic chiming in.