It’s been about a month since I’ve been on the streets. I’ve tried getting a job, but no one will hire me without proper identification...I didn’t think to grab my birth certificate when I left. I sighed as I once again beat myself up inside my head for leaving it behind. Grabbing my bag, that has quickly became dirty and worn, I set out to began traveling once again. It was dark out, as I tried not to draw attention to myself and continued to head in the opposite direction of my old home. I wasn’t sure where I was or where I was going, but I knew one thing: I wasn’t going back.
When the sun started to rise, I let out a breath of relief. I walked another two blocks before I found somewhere I could rest. Placing my bag down, I sat in front it so that it was squished between the wall and myself. My stomach growled for food, but I didn’t bother looking for a food place on my way up here. I only had $400 dollars left, with no sign of finding a job soon. So I only eat when I absolutely have to, especially since I’d eventually want to find somewhere to live. I decided to do my daily prayer, before closing my eyes.
Thank you Father, for allowing me to come this far. I don’t know what your plans are for me, if any, but I know that you are pure and so are your plans. I’m unworthy of any of your blessings, but I can’t help myself ....I must ask that you help me make it through this. Lord, forgive me...I’m hoping you are hearing me up there-
“’cuse me?” A soft voice interrupted my praying. I jumped up before cowering against the wall. I looked up to see a woman with brunette hair pulled up into a bun. Her eyes were a brilliant blue that held crinkles around them that were imprinted on her slightly tan skin. She was wearing a light blue button up dress and white shoes. It was quite old fashion but it suited her. She smiled kindly at me but as she looked me over, she begun to frown. I looked away from her eyes; I didn’t need to look at them to see the shame that was surely inside of them.
“How long have ya been out here, hon?” Her soft country-accented voice rung out to me.
“I just got here, Ma’am” I replied. She shook her head.
“No suga’, I mean how long have ya been out on the streets?” I blushed furiously as I understood what she meant.
“Oh, um around a month or so, I believe,” I replied as I once again looked away from her, finding sudden interest in my shoes. I frowned as I saw there was a hole in the big toe. Must’ve happened when I was running from those thugs... She said nothing for a minute, and I was just about to excuse myself to find another spot when she decided to change my life forever.
“How would you like a job?” She said. My head snapped up to hers with wide eyes in disbelief.
“What?” I said, unable to believe what she just said.
“A job? I own a cafe not too far from here. I don’t have any money to spare, but I just lost a waitress and could really use the help. That way you can make your own money and hopefully be able to get off-”
“You can do that for me? You’d be willing to do that for me? But I don’t have any identification or anything-” I started to splutter off.
“That’s okay, dear. We will figure something out. When can you start?” She asked.
“Right now!” Yes, I’ve been up all night, but the sooner I start the sooner I can make money. The lady nodded and motioned with her head for me to follow her. I quickly grabbed my bag and followed her. “What’s your name?” I asked her.
“My name is Melinda, but everyone calls me Mo or Mama” I nodded in reply.Looking up to the sky, I said a quick thank you to God. I wasn’t sure if He was hearing me, but I guess He was. I don’t think I could ever thank Him enough. “Are you coming, dear?” I snapped out of my internal praising session and noticed I stopped walking. Mo was looking at me with a raised eyebrow; I blushed and jogged to catch up with her.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. She laughed as she threw an arm around me. I flinched at the motion and slowly stepped aside, making her arm fall from around my shoulders. I couldn’t help the fear that had taken hold of me. It wasn’t just my father that was abusive, it was my mother too. Unfortunately, I didn’t just have issues with men, but with women as well. I took a deep breath to recenter myself. Mo looked at me with a small, sad smile.
“What’s your name, suga’?” She asked me.
“Ally,” I replied.
“Well, come on, Ally. We have to open the shop by 7 and get you all cleaned up.” I glanced at the sky. I think it was probably around 6:30. She continued walking and this time made sure not to touch me again.
It took around 10 minutes to get to the cafe. Once she unlocked the cafe, she ushered me into the back where she gave me a uniform that was the same one she was wearing and a white apron the started at the waist and descended down to about an inch above the trim of the dress. The trim of the apron was a lace detail that completed the old-fashioned look. She showed me to the bathroom where she gave me a washcloth and some soap.
“I’m sorry it’s not a proper body wash but it’s all I have-” She began apologizing, but I quickly cut her off.
“It’s more than enough, thank you.” I gave her a small smile. She nodded before leaving me alone to wash up in the bathroom sink and change. Luckily, I had a clean pair of underwear I could change into as well. There was a laundry mat that I snuck into to put my clothes in with others who have started washing their clothes and had left while it was completing the cycle. I felt bad for doing it but it was the only way to have clean clothes.
I quickly washed up, seeing as she had to open the shop in less than 20 minutes. Stepping out of the bathroom, I found Mo starting the coffee near the checkout station. She glanced up and smiled when she saw me.
“I’m glad it fits! Here you go, you’ll need this for serving. I’ll have Chelsea show you the loops of everything- she should be here by 7.” I nodded as I took the notepad and pen from her. I took a deep breath and almost began to drool as I smelled something delicious, muffins maybe? “I just put some muffins in the oven. They shouldn’t take long, so they will be hot and ready for the morning customers!” I almost smiled at how enthusiastic she was about her hot muffins. She paused for a moment, looking at me.
“Would you like to stay with me? I’d have to ask you to put some money in for food, but-” I cut her off by shaking my head. I couldn’t possibly ask more of this woman, who just gave me a job. I’m still homeless, but I think I’ll be okay now. It might take awhile to save up money to get a place to live but with a steady income, I’m sure I’ll make it somehow. “Ally-”
“I mean no disrespect ma’am, but you’ve done so much for me already. I can’t possibly ask that of you.”
“You aren’t asking me, I’m offering it to you.” I started to shake my head again when the bell rung. I turned to see a beautiful young girl, probably in her teens, run up to Mo and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She had curly dirty blonde hair that was shoulder length. She wore the same outfit that I had on except she had on some pristine white tennis shoes. “Hello Chelsea”
“Hey, Mo! Need help openin’ the shop?” Chelsea asked Mo in a thick country accent before she noticed me standing awkwardly to the side. I wonder where I was and if everyone had accents around here. “Oh! Well, hello there! You must be new, the name’s Chelsea if you didn’t notice” She giggled, “and you are?”
“Ally” I mumbled. I couldn’t help but be intimidated by her. She seemed very kind and genuine but was too pretty to be talking to someone like me. I almost had a heart attack when she jumped on me and gave me a hug.
“Chelsea!” I could barely hear Mo say, because of the rushing of blood going through my ears. Chelsea took a step back from me with a confused face.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to...I’m just a hugger is all” Chelsea’s mood seemed to dull as she began to apologize.
“Uh,..it’s okay...I just have a thing with people touching me...” Chelsea’s eyes lingered on me for a moment.
“I understand.” The way she said it, made it seem like she knew the reasoning behind me not wanting to be touch. Her eyes revealed a dark and complicated past; I briefly wondered if she was abused too. She clapped her hands together, startling me. “It’s time to get this baby open! You can come help me, Ally.” Glancing at the clock I saw we had 5 minutes left to open before we were due.
Following Chelsea, she showed me the ropes of how to open the shop, the basics at least. We finished right at 7 am and about 15 minutes later the first customer of the day walked in.
“Walter! How ya doin’ this fine mornin’?” Chelsea cheerfully greeted the man. Walter was about 5′7 and had broad shoulders that barely fit through the glass door. His blonde hair seemed to be style effortlessly upon his head and looked to be quite soft, unlike his harsh brown eyes. They seemed fierce and calculating, but when they landed on Chelsea they lit up. The calculating look was still present, but love easily clouded it.
“It was rough at first, but now that I’ve gotten to see the most beautiful young lady in this whole town I’m feeling right much betta’” He sent a toothy grin towards Chelsea who was blushing a firetruck red.
“Oh Walter, you’re such a sweet talka,” She quickly turned away and walked towards the cashier area while Walter went and sat down near a window. I don’t think Chelsea took notice, but his eyes never left her. She quickly came towards me, giving me instructions. “So, once a customer comes in, they just have a seat and it’s our job to take notice and serve them as quickly as possible ya hear?” I nodded my head in response. “The menus are underneath the register, I suggest grabbing a handful and keeping them in your pocket,” she pointed to the larger pocket that was on the apron. She handed me half of her pile to keep in my pocket before leading me over to Walter’s seat.
“Walter, this is Ally. She’s new here and just startin’ training.”
“Nice to meet you, Ally” Walter said, as he stood up and reached out for a handshake. My eyes grew wide looking at the out-reached hand- he could easily choke me with his bare hand. I saw Chelsea shake her head in the corner of my eye. Walter frowned slightly, before dropping his hand.
“Uhm, nice to meet you as well,” I said with as much confidence as I could muster. I couldn’t mumble the whole time I was here if I wanted to keep this job. He gave me a small smile before taking his seat again.
“I’ll just have the usual, sweetie” I saw Chelsea blush again before she asked him to say the full order out loud.
“Ally doesn’t know who the usuals are and what they order and I’d like for her to see the full process if ya don’t mind? Until she gets used to it, of course.”
“Of course, sorry Miss Ally. I’d take two of the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits with a medium black coffee. If you could bring two creamers and a few sugars I’d appreciate that as well.” Chelsea nodded her head and wrote the order down on her notepad.
“I’ll be right back with your coffee” She beamed down at Walter before walking back towards the coffee, that was behind the cashier. I followed her and listened as she continued to train me. “Now, since you’re just getting started, feel free to write out the full orders. As time goes on and you get the hang of it, you can abbreviate and sometimes even just write the customer’s name and usual. Mo is in charge of cooking and such and pretty much knows the usual of all her recurring customers. For example, on a normal day, I’d write Walter’s usual and stick it up here since Mo knows Walter almost always orders two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits. Makes sense?” I quickly nodded my head and watched her as she poured the coffee. “Here, keep some of these in your other pocket since most customers will be asking for suga's and creamers.” I took the packets she handed me and placed them in my other pocket.
“How long have you and Walter been together?” I asked, hoping to start a conversation. Chelsea nearly dropped the scolding hot coffee as she turned red once again.
“Uh, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Walter and I aren’t together, we are just friends, that’s it. Just friends.” I felt myself become a little red at assuming they were together...I couldn’t help but just assume since their behavior kind of resembled that of two people in a relationship, or at least dating. Well, the kind of relationships I’ve seen in movies.
“Oh, I’m sorry I just assumed...“I apologized. I didn’t mean to make her feel awkward.
“It’s alright, darlin’” She gave me a small smile before turning to head back to a smiling Walter. “Now, come on. We have lots of training to get through today.” I gave her a small smile in return before following her back to the table. I may still be homeless and have no family, but this is the most hope I’ve had in a while. Things are going to be okay.