I have to be at the high school around 7:30AM tomorrow. I really am excited for the school year and to be teaching full-time. The only aspect I’m currently apprehensive about is waking up before 9:30AM, as has been my habit the last month. Also, I’ve been suffering from insomnia lately, tossing and turning for at least an hour before falling asleep that is restless and broken. More often than not, I pop an irritated open to see the neon green lights of my alarm clock glowing an absurdly early time. I know I will be exhausted, but I’ll just have to power through it; no big deal.
Well, I say it’s no big deal but that is easier said than done. I know my anxiety comes from the upcoming academic year and I have yet to figure out how to master my own emotions. Does that come with age, or does that elude us all for forever and ever, amen?
I finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth today. It was highly entertaining and there were times where I had to physically force myself to put it down. The characters were well-developed and I admired the allegorical aspect of the novel, as well as the adult themes that were presented and successfully tackled, despite the novel’s Young Adult label. I’m not sure if I’ll read the others in the series, and I’m not sure if that fact detracts from my glowing review.
I started running again. My goal is to be able to go to where the pavement ends, and then back again. I was able to do it about a year ago, and I remember how amazing it felt to be sore, to try on clothes and have them fit, and to feel pretty. I did gain back some of the weight I lost, but the trick is to not let it get me down, and to stop the bleeding; start losing instead of continuing to gain. My mantra this time around is “I want to look the way I want to feel when the man I love takes me in his arms.” I know my friends will say that I shouldn’t lose weight to impress the opposite sex, and that it is a personal decision I should make for myself, and they are right. But I am also a realist; how will anyone find me attractive if I don’t even find myself attractive? There is a certain kind of confidence and appeal that goes along with looking good and feeling good. That is what I’m truly after.
I haven’t heard anything about the editing process for my novel, so I sent an e-mail politely asking for an updated. In turn, I will keep you all updated. I’m anxious to hold a copy in my hand, to begin marketing myself and my dream and my passion.
I love when I walk into my bedroom and “Thunder Road” is playing.
PROMPT: “I’ll have an egg-white omelet and a side of sausage. And a beer, if you’ve got one.”
PIECE: I watched the man in the paint-splattered jeans mosey on up to the counter, his flannel shirt stretched tight across a pronounced belly. His trucker hat sported greasy thumbprints along the brim, and he could use a good shave. I smiled brightly enough, always keeping tips in mind, even though I had dismissed him as a vagrant, as just another truck driver passing through. Their faces seldom repeated, though their stories were eerily similar. They’d been on the road for months and were either running back home, or running from their loneliness. The trick to handling such customers, and how to get awesome tips, was to listen patiently with a sad, but understanding smile. These guys ate it up every time. Oozing confidence in my pheromones – or at least, I felt like I was – I walked in front of the man who had just entered the diner, immediately pouring him a cup of coffee. Not yet meeting his eyes, I smiled wide and asked, “What can I get for you today, buddy?” Buddy was an excellent moniker; truckers used it among themselves regularly, so it helped me give the impression that I was an insider, almost one of them.
“I’ll have an egg-white omelet and a side of sausage. And a beer, if you’ve got one.”
I stopped pouring, even though the cup was nowhere near full. Wide-eyed and bearing an incredulous smile, I met the trucker’s eyes and let a small laugh escape me. He had to be kidding. It wasn’t even nine o’clock yet. “A beer?” I asked, repeating his order so he could hear it back and recognize the insanity within.
“Yeah, if you’ve got one,” he said, cool as could be, like it was the most normal thing in the world to order at the breakfast counter in a diner in a small town before the hour of nine.
“Um,” I say, trying to be careful with my words and being unable to stop myself, “it’s not even nine o’clock, yet.”
The trucker smiled and dropped his gaze. It wasn’t an act of submission; it seemed to me like he was feigning humility, like he was finally acknowledging the social taboo he was committing. “Darling, if you knew the night I’d had, you wouldn’t begrudge me a beer.” His eyes rose to meet mine, and at the utter sadness that tinged the edges, I felt my heart ache. Whatever had happened to this man was terrible, and he believed it warranted a beer. Who was I to argue? Besides, I was looking to cash in on the tip and the first rule of customer service is that the customer is always right.
“Let me see what I can do,” I offered. Before I hurried to the back, I finished pouring his coffee, set out the creamers and sugar, and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. I asked Rick, the manager, if it’d be okay and Rick poked his head out from the swinging doors of the kitchen, scanning the counter. His assessment of the man must have been that he seemed harmless enough, because Rick nodded and then promptly continued shouting at the kitchen staff. I left to the sanctuary that was the fridge and grabbed an amber bottle. Lucky for me, we only carried one brand. I returned before the customer with the odd request, opened the bottle using the hem of my uniform and handed it to him. “Here you are,” I smiled.
“Thanks, darling; this is greatly appreciated.” The man drank from the bottle like he had never done so before and never would again; like that beer in that diner was all that mattered. I watched him with growing fascination and growing curiosity.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what was it that gave you such a thirst so early in the morning?” I lean against the counter casually, so it looks like I’m talking to a friend with genuine concern, rather than humoring a customer.
His eyes roam over me, but not in a creepy, perverted way. He was measuring me up, trying to make sense of me. His brows furrowed for a moment before he said, “How about you run and put my order in and then I’ll tell you all about it?”
I blush deeply – what a rookie mistake – and quickly scrawl a ticket, running it back to the line. When I return, the customer who has so consumed me is drinking again, drinking deeply from the beer bottle. The coffee remains untouched. I grin, perhaps admittedly somewhat impressed by such a display of manly tolerance, and resume my lean. “Okay; I’m all ears.”
He set the bottle down and preferred to tear at the already peeling label, soaked from condensation, rather than make eye contact. “Well, darling, if I am to be perfectly honest – and that is something I pride myself on – then I was on a romantic date with a pretty young thing, not unlike yourself.” I smiled and bowed my head in recognition, just like I was expected to. I’m not sure if he saw it because he was so preoccupied with getting the entire label off cleanly, in one long, exaggerated rip. “I got myself all dolled up. I bought new cologne and everything, had the flowers and the candy all ready and raring to go, and would you believe it? She never showed.”
I gasped dramatically. “You’re kidding,” I said.
“I wish I was, darling; I wish I was.” He paused a moment, maybe to collect his thoughts or to let the weight of his sentiment settle properly over the conversation. “I was hurt, like any man would be. I felt I deserved an explanation. So I drive over there and I’m going to knock on her door when I notice the curtains for the front window are wide open and that I can see into her living room. I look – I couldn’t help it – and there she is, sucking on the neck of some guy I had never seen before.”
I frowned, offering up my sympathies. I asked, “Had you been together long?”
“We had been closing in on a year. I thought I was going to marry that woman and have a beautiful family. But she had other plans, and boy, did I feel like a fool. I needed to give her and him a piece of my mind, so I banged on the door.” The label came off in a loud, aggressive tear and I jumped, startled by the sound. He didn’t look to me. He kept staring at the bottle and when he spoke next, it was in a dead sounding tone. “She let me in and I was screaming loud enough to wake the dead- I mean, loud enough to wake the neighbors. I grabbed her shoulders but I didn’t do it hard, just so I knew I had her full attention, and that’s when the guy came up behind me and started choking me, pulling me back.” He looked to me and he must have seen something in my eyes and in my expression that verified the authenticity of my attention. He leaned forward. “Do you know what I did next, darling?”
I shook my head.
“I killed them both.”
I leaned back from him, terrified. Rationale and logic returned soon, and I smiled, though it was most certainly skeptical and didn’t quite meet my eyes. “You’re putting me on,” I accused, though I did my best to keep my tone playful. His expression didn’t change – it was still intense and terrifying – but I threw my head back and laughed. There was no way he was a murderer. There was no way I was in any danger. Those things only happened in melodramas created for the television, cinema and literary scene. “Oh boy,” I said, laughter subsiding, “you had me going there.” I slapped the counter with my palm. “I’ll go check on your omelet and sausage. I’ll be right back.” I offered him a wink and departed.
As soon as I was out of his sight, my knees buckled and I had to grip the nearest counter edge for support. Rick heard the metallic clatter and turned. He nearly ran to my side and grabbed my elbows, raising me to my feet and offering support. “What happened, Angel? Are you okay?”
“That guy,” I said, suddenly breathless and feeling like I could wail, “that guy who ordered the beer, just confessed to killing two people.”
I expected Rick to do what I did; to laugh and dismiss it as insanity, but something about my appearance must have scared him. “Where is he?” he asked.
“He’s sitting at the counter – he’s the only one there.”
Rick left me momentarily and when he returned, he looked confused. I could understand – the guy looked like any other driver, weary from the road and looking for a meal. He slipped his fingers under my chin and raised it, ensuring we were making full eye contact. He licked his lips, like his mouth had suddenly gone dry, and he said, “Angel, there isn’t anyone at the counter.”