Losing myself in a book was just what I needed. I had always been able to immerse myself into what I was reading. It was like a movie played in my head as I read. I could chose my own characters, I could even be one if I so chose.
The phone in the house rang bringing me back into reality. Sighing I stood up walking to the kitchen and grabbing the faded yellow phone off the hook. "Hello," I said.
"Sydney, how did you sleep last night?"
I sighed hearing my dad's voice come over the line. "Good, I went to sleep early."
"Good, you're taking your medicine right? Don't forget you have an appointment with Dr. Russell next week."
I frowned, "Yes I'm taking my meds dad." I didn't know anything about having an appointment with Dr. Russell but I didn't want to argue with my dad. I knew he would get upset if I said I didn't know what he was talking about. Maybe he did mention it but it's not like it mattered.
"Iris will come to pick you up for work today to show you where it is but you will walk home. It's only a few blocks. Maybe later on when you've proven yourself you can save up for a car."
I didn't respond to him. He wouldn't have liked what I had to say. I had no idea how much it had cost to keep me in that hospital but I would have rather been there than here. Here all I had was myself. Even HE had abandoned me.
I sighed closing my eyes, HE isn't real I reminded myself. Dad let out a breath noticing my silence. "I'm sure you are still getting used to your new place. I wrote the house number and my cell down on a pad on the fridge. Call me if you need me."
As he hung up I rolled my eyes, "I definitely don't need you." Speaking the words aloud I felt somewhat better. I didn't need him, I needed HIM. Hanging up the phone I closed my eyes. No I didn't need HIM. HE got me here.
Walking to my room I sat on my bed starring at my mirror. "Was that you today? Are you playing games with me? I trusted you, you owe me that at least."
It didn't feel like I had sat in front of my mirror for more than a few seconds but soon I heard Iris's voice as she barged into the apartment. I jerked my head up frowning turning to look at the clock. Shit it was already 4:30 and I had to be at the dinner at 5.
Iris hit the corner of my room, "really Sydney, you aren't even dressed. Was that too much to ask for?"
I watched as she walked to my closet pulling out my black skirt and white button-up shirt she had bought the night before. "Now hurry up," she said turning and walking out the room.
Sighing I got up and replaced the black skirt exchanging it for the black slacks. Pulling on the outfit I felt like an idiot. Braiding my golden brown hair I quickly threw on just enough makeup to give my face some color. I had a really bad feeling that tonight was going to be a disaster.
Walking out into the living room Iris shook her head at me, "come on before you are late."
She shoved my keys and a wallet I didn't even know I had at me leaving me no option but to follow her outside. Her car was a shinny white BMW that probably cost more than everything in my apartment combined. Getting in her car I buckled up looking straight not knowing what to say to her.
The diner was honestly only a few blocks away from the apartment but it still wasn't a walk I wanted to make alone in the dark. As we parked Iris grabbed her handbag tucking it under her arm. "Do not embarrass me Sydney. We had to pull a lot of strings to get you this job."
The minute Iris opened the door a bell overhead the door rang announcing our arrival. Eyes turned our direction, some tables started whispering, and I instantly wanted to turn and run.
"Well," Iris said under her breath, "isn't this just pleasant."
As we approached the counter a grey-headed lady walked forward, "so this must be the girl."
Iris turned to look down at me, "yes this is Sydney. She shouldn't be any trouble but feel free to call us if anything happens." With that Iris turned to leave without even so much as a good bye.
The older lady who's name tag declared her to be Nora shook her head at me. "Well come on, let me show you where to clock in and out."
I followed her behind the counter and into a dingy yellow hall. "That there is the old punch card, and yes Gus still makes us use it." She pulled a blank card down scribbling my name on it before inserting it in the machine. A loud click sounded. "See simple enough. Just don't be late. Gus allows you a ten minute window but don't take advantage of it."
She turned down another hall that lead to a room, "this is our locker room. She pointed at a locker that had a 4 sketched into it, "that will be your locker. You better get you a lock, some people aren't as trustworthy as others. You can keep your stuff in my locker tonight if you need."
I held up my wallet and keys and she nodded taking them from me and going over to the locker that had a 1 on it. "I personally don't think you working her is a good idea." She turned grabbing a pink and white checkered apron off a hook by the door and handing it to me. "But nobody listens to old Nora."
Quickly tying the apron around my waist I felt stupid. I was pretty sure I looked hideous. Stopping in the kitchen she started pointed, "that there cooking is Gus, he runs the place and believe me if he says jump you jump." He looked up nodding, "that there is Dustin and I'm not sure what the hell he does but stand there." He rolled his eyes at her.
She turned walking toward the counter. "That girl over there is Jenny, she is the other waitress working tonight. It shouldn't be busy so I'm sure she can help teach you some of the ropes."
Nora handed me a notepad and a pen. "Go take table 10's order."
I looked over having no clue where table ten was but Jenny, a blonde headed woman in her late thirties smiled at me. "The table by the window with all the kids darlin'."
Swallowing I made my way over not even having the slightest idea of what to say, "are ya'll ready to order."
My voice was barley heard over the roar of their chatter. "Excuse me," I said louder, "are ya'll ready to order."
All eyes turned to me and I froze seeing a few faces I remembered from school. "OMG Sydney Greer, did you break out of the looney bin or what?" The table exploded in laughter, looking over my shoulder I sent a pleading look over at Nora but she quickly looked down ignoring me. Jenny was helping her own table.
"If you are ready, " I said again, "I'll take your order."
The table grew silent and I noticed several other tables around us where whispering and pointing at me. I was ready to run but a voice stopped me. "Leave her alone, I'm hungry. Ya'll can fuck with her after we eat."
Jonathan Walker, he had been my next-door neighbor for as long as I could remember. We had always gotten along, we even played together until jr high forced us to chose groups. I let out a sigh of relief as the table started giving me their orders.
Walking back to Nora I had no clue if she or Gus or whoever would be able to decipher my henscratch but she looked down nodding. "This goes here," she tapped a bell hanging the order on a spinning wheel above my head. "Now go refill table 2's drinks."
I frowned but she shook her head, "honey the tables are in order."
Nodding I quickly walked to table two and asked them if they wanted a refill. The night pretty much went on like that. Nora giving me demands and Jenny helping me the most she could. She had made sure to be free when I had to take Jonathan's table their food. When it was time for them to check out that had been all Nora's job. I was so grateful.
The whispers didn't stop, the pointing didn't stop, still I tried to keep it pushed to the back of my head. I could make out some words. Words like, "crazy, mental hospital, psychotic", along with some nice ones. The nicer ones were more like, "poor girl, so sad, such a pity."
By the time the diner closed I would have willingly hung up my apron and ran home but we had to stay and clean. I wiped the tables down, picked up the salt and pepper shakers to be refilled, and helped pick the chairs up so Jenny could mop.
When we finally locked up Jenny and I were the only ones there. "I know tonight was hard Sydney, but it will get better. People just have to get used to seeing your face around again."
I smiled at her declining her offer to drive me home. I stood waving at her as she backed up wondering if a single mother of 3 would end up being my only friend in this whole world. It was clear everyone else was just amused by me.
The wind had picked up so as I walked I wrapped my arms around myself trying to keep warm. I kept thinking back to Jonathan and his table. They had stared and laughed my direction all night. Was this really what I needed right now. I understood I needed to be put back into society but I had been thrust into it tonight. I was the laughing stock of the whole diner. Even our elder customers who had came in just before close to drink coffee had stared and whispered about me.
Tears fell from my eyes and apart of me wanted to stop walking and sit down on the sidewalk for a minute to gather my thoughts. I knew however that was a horrible idea, it was late and I needed to get home. Taking a deep breath I looked up and that's when I saw it.
A shadow that seemed to come from nowhere appeared on the other side of the road. I looked around feeling eyes on me. Panicking I began walking faster and faster but the shadow picked up it's pace to match my own. I could feel it getting longer, almost reaching me. Hitting the corner I saw the back steps to my apartment and I ran faster than I ever knew I could taking the steps two at a time, tripping I fell and hit my already hurt knee but I didn't care.
My apartment key was the only key I had so I quickly thrust it and turning the knob looking back at the last second and it was gone. There were no unusual shadows. No feeling of being watched. I slammed the door shut locking it and sinking to the floor as I leaned up against it. "It's all in your head Sydney."