Jessie has a full plate. Not only does she work full time at the corner store as a clerk, she's also attending night school in order to improve chances at getting a better job and moving out of her small town to the big city. She's also the single mother of a small daughter and cares for her chronically ill mother. Jessie's barely able to keep up with her expenses and obligations. Could her life get any more difficult?
Yes, it can and it does when her mother takes a sudden turn for the worse and ends up in the hospital. Then her boss, Carl, comes to give her frightening news; her ex-husband that she testified against has just been released from prison and is heading back to town with a grudge against her.
There are few options for Jessie. She needs to finish her courses and take the exams for certification, so needs to stay in town. Her mother needs an expensive prescription to keep her condition from worsening again. Jessie and her daughter are in danger if her ex-husband follows through with the threats he made when she testified. A move to the big city is what she needs to do, but she has no money to do so, and she really needs to finish those exams. What can she do?
Jessie had befriended an elderly customer, Mr. Johansen. Perhaps he could help?
This short story pulls a lot of emotional strings that the reader can easily relate to. Who hasn't suffered through similar travails and wished for some simple way out of the mess that's been dumped into your life?
There were a few things about the construction of the story that had me figuratively scratching my head. Examples of this were mostly wondering why a character that didn't ring true was introduced into the story then disappeared and the inclusion of a vignette that had nothing to do with the core of the story. These took up space in a short story that could have been more tightly constructed. It's as though they were put in simply to pad out the length and impeded the flow of the story. Or conversely they could have been meant to define the character of Jessie more completely but missed the mark. For these technical reasons, I'll give the story 4 stars. It was an entertaining, quick read, but could use a bit of tweaking to pull it together to rate that extra star.