Today was the last day of college. I’d been working my ass off during this week's final exams. Keeping my nose in the books even while I was at work. I was thankful for Jazmine. I’d been working in her diner ever since high school. She is the closest person I had to family.
Ever since I could remember I had been in the foster care system. No mom. No dad. No family. No one who wanted me or claimed me. I had no one. During my early teenage years I had been placed with the worst set of foster parents. I was their maid, their babysitter and also their punching bag. They would lock me in the basement at night. One night I finally broke out of the house and ran as fast as I could. I didn’t stop running until I reached a spot where I thought I would be safe.
With nowhere to go I stayed in the back of an alley. The alley had been shared with a jewelry store and a diner. Everything smelt wonderful. I had stolen a bag of chips from the pantry before escaping. Eventually I fell asleep from exhaustion.
After the diner closed a nice lady had found me. She introduced herself as Jazmine Cartight. Thankfully she didn’t take me back to the foster parents I had escaped from. I stayed under her care and she even helped me get into the nearby college. Jazmine was beyond proud of me. In return I worked at the diner for free.
I gathered my suitcases and headed down the stairs of my dorm where Jazmine had her car waiting. “This is it,” I lifted the last two cases into the trunk and pushed them back.
“Sweet. Let’s go home,” Jazmine started the vehicle. She drove a dark blue Buick Verano with a little white nose and whiskers decal on the back window.
“How does it feel to finally get a break from that place?” Jazmine asked me. “You have been going nonstop”.
I took one last look at the community college before we drove off. There was something about driving away this time. It was different. This time it felt as if it might be my last time seeing this place which I knew wasn’t true. I'd be back. I was getting that degree.
I knew she didn’t like the fact that I was pushing myself so hard. Usually I continue my school work throughout the summer but Jazmine had finally talked some sense into me. So I decided to opt out of the summer semester and join her at the diner. It was my last Summer before graduation after all. She was right. In the end I just wanted to make her proud of me. I wanted to thank her for everything she has ever done for me.
Together the two of us had the car unpacked and everything back in my room within thirty minutes. That was the first time I actually had to pack my dorm room up. Usually the university just lets me stay in the same room since I was always there. “Do you wanna join me at the diner or spend the rest of the night in that room up there?” Jazmine shouted from downstairs. We lived in a small two story house on the edge of town. Jazmine and I had painted it a bright yellow in the Spring. Flowers had been planted all around the house. It was her childhood home and we had spent hours fixing it. Jazmine had taught me a lot.
“A burger does sound good,” I laughed and rushed out my bedroom door. “I’m starving”.
I spent most of the night in the corner watching movies on my phone and cleaning tables when I got too bored. Jazmine only had me working a couple days out of the week due to college. I liked having something to do. Something I wasn’t forced to do with a belt or wooden paddle. Working at the diner with Jazmine made me happy. We had so many good memories here. I couldn’t think of a bad time here.
After the last employee left Jazmine brought the cash drawer over to my booth and began her closing routine. “Katrina, asked for more shifts. Her kid needs braces so I hope you don’t mind. I gave her the weekend so you’re free,” she said without taking her eyes off the cash in her hand.
“Sucks for Dawson. He's going to have to start watching what he eats with those things,” I cringed at the thought of popcorn getting stuck between the wires. “Not even candy”.
I took a giant stretch and just as my arms went behind my head a large snap filled the air. “Ah,” I screamed in agony as my shoulder had popped out of place and then my knee. One by one my joints began to crack and then snap out of place. Jazmine watched as I fell to the floor and screamed. Tears rushed out my eyes and sweat poured from my pores. What was happening to me? There was so much pain that I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was in the middle of an exorcist movie and the demon was fighting to escape my body.
“Emma! Emma, what’s going on?” Jazmine went to her knees. She brushed the hair from my face.
Every bone in my body felt like it was breaking over and over again. My skin burned. My eyes burned. Everything began to blur. Everything hurts. My body was breaking and my heart felt as if it were to jump up my throat and out my body. “I think. . .I need a. . .doctor”.
“Oh my. . .you’re one of them,” Jazmine pulled herself up and stepped away from me. I could see her reach into her pant pocket for her phone. “Ann, I need you at the diner. NOW! It’s Emma. She’s one of yours”.