When I hear the lights go out and the front doors lock, I step out of the stall. Breathing a sigh of relief, I feel my way to the light switch. The lights ping on and as I behold the staff bathroom, I want to switch them off again. However, I move my feet towards the nearest sink and run the tap. Cold water gushes out and I wash my hands and face. A small sign on the mirror says not to drink the water, but I ignore it.
Glancing up, I see my reflection and faded former self. My normal short brown hair is growing long and semi-wild. Wrinkles and bags drop down from my dull eyes. The shape of a beard is more defined and my skin looks pale. I’ve become the shadow of my father in his last months.
Turning the tap off makes the humming of the lights come back. I flick the switch as I hurriedly leave. The bathrooms are at the end of a small tight corridor and a few footsteps from the staff room. I walk in, turning on the lights. The smell in here is worse than the bathroom. It’s made up of a number of things; fast and mouldy food, sweaty bodies, hot drinks and lingering tobacco. We often joke that the cleaners don’t do their job, but I now know that for a fact.
I open the small fridge and the remains of a half-eaten sandwich and a yogurt catch my eye. There’s also a lunchbox of wilted salad, gone off milk and a bowl of…something. I take the first two items and I make myself a coffee. Sinking into my favourite arm chair, the springs creak loudly. All the furniture in this room was brought back by customers because it was faulty. I guess the managers didn’t want it to go to waste and decided the staff could use it.
Eating and drinking takes the edge off my hunger. Then I have to tidy up. I put on the small radio and begin. Once I wouldn’t have cared or bothered and as the signs state: tidy up after yourself and wash your own things. People seem incompetent and now that this has become my living room and kitchen after hours, I’ve the urge to keep it clean.
I do as much as I can and then go to the lockers. Opening mine, I take out my old rucksack, which is stuffed with clothes and items. I sort through it, taking only what I need and shoving the rest back inside my locker.
After, I head into security and study all the cameras. It took me awhile to figure the system out. I’ve never had a head for technology. However, just like in the movies, I can now create a loop. I don’t bother sitting down as it only takes a few minutes to fix the cameras. I double check that it’s still recording and the time is still moving.
Now, I’m free to roam the shop floor. I pick up a small torch before I leave then go through. Keeping the torch low, I make my way to the tills. Some nights they are not fully emptied and the spare change is useful. I use my key and opening them all; find a handful of coins in the last one. I then take some chocolate bars and fizzy drinks from the shelves and into my rucksack.
I climb the stairs to the bedroom section and turn on some of the lamps. I picked out a single bed some time ago. Making my way over, I sit down and look around. I could have had any bed I wanted and for my first few nights I did. However, I discovered it was easier to stick with one in case I had to get out quickly in the dark.
I get undress and under the covers. Settling down, I set my alarm for five as that gives me enough time to prepare for arriving staff. Turning out the torch and lamp, I try to sleep. It takes me awhile though as my mind is on edge over every sound. Finally, I imagination myself back home; even though I knew when I awake I’ll still be here.