Daysong Graphics
A Cup Of Heartbreak

The muscles in Rose’s neck tightened and pulsed with each breath. The tension spread to her temples. She rubbed them, knowing it would do no good. Her head weighed a hundred pounds, as did her heart.

Working in the coffee shop was not helping. Typically she loved making frothy drinks with jolts of espresso; it was a fun diversion from studying. But today customer service was taking its toll.

Emotional labor should pay more than $5.75 an hour.

Smiling at each customer, remembering to lift the corners of her mouth and eyes just enough to make it look sincere, Rose tried desperately to keep it together. But her heart was working against her. It was as if gravity pulled her lips downward into a line of grief. She tried swallowing, but the tension in her neck created a lump in her throat.

Why, Lord? What is wrong with me?

With moisture gathering in her eyes, she took a ragged breath.

“Rose, are you okay? You look pale,” Eddie said, his blue-eyed gaze floating along her every facial feature as if in search of something.

“Oh, I’m just feeling sick today.” Which is true, though not from the common bug.

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His Masterpiece

Self-awareness hits Callie James like food poisoning. One minute she’s a girl with too-big sneakers and untied shoelaces. The next, she’ staring at eight reflections of her eleven-year-old self in the dressing room of JCPenney.

I’m not beautiful.

The thought sours her stomach. Callie looks over her shoulder at the sales associate, a kid with acne who swivels his head to check out Mom. How can a girl like Callie come out of a woman like that? All legs and natural blond hair that waves and shines, even without the sun. People look at her mom. Everywhere they go, they look. Most times, the men look twice. People don’t look at Callie—they look away from her. Or sometimes through her.

And why wouldn’t they?

She turns back to her reflection and tugs on a strand of limp, stringy hair—neither blonde nor brown, but that ugly shade in between—and tucks it behind her Dumbo ears. Freckles pockmark every inch of her face, like God thought if He added enough, maybe nobody would notice her pencil-thin lips and extra-bulgy forehead. Her gaze lingers on her teeth. At least if they were crooked, the dentist could fix them. But as far as she knows, not even the best dentist can make them shrink.

Mom sets her hand on Callie’s shoulder—her touch feathery and warm. “What do you think?”

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