Coming Home (part four)

Coming Home (part four)

Part Four {Luke 15:14-19}

 Click on the following links to read the first parts of the story!    (part one)   (part two)  (part three)

A few months later….

“The sign up front says you’re hiring.” I slapped my resume down on the greasy countertop.

The man in the formerly white apron scrutinized me. “Yeah, sure am.”

I lifted hopeful eyes to his. “I’m a hard worker.” Or could become one.

He sighed. “When can you start?”

“Now?” I wrinkled my nose at the stains on the menus lying on the Formica beside my arm.

He shrugged a huge shoulder. “Listen, you work till six, you can have supper.”

“Wait, no! I want an actual job. Like a steady job. I’m a respectable girl.”

He laughed. “Yeah, no one respectable works at a place like this. But whatever, come in. Rita will show you the ropes.”

And that’s how I found myself waiting on tables in a grimy red apron. The salads I carried out to the diners were limp, the burgers soggy, and fries badly aged. The floor creaked, the chairs squeaked, and the refrigerator didn’t always run. The patrons grumbled, my boss shouted, my coworkers swore.

At the end of the day, I drove my car (I’d long since traded in my Camaro for a more fuel-friendly sedan) to my new apartment. Well, not new. A steep downgrade from the previous posh place I’d rented, my current home was barely above substandard. Every night I could hear all the neighbors around me arguing. I put a pillow over my head and tried to muffle the noises at best.

The past few months had been beyond rough. Not only had I lost Taylor, but also my apartment and a big part of my belongings. The landlord hadn’t been very gracious after learning I could only pay another month’s rent. After learning that my money was gone, my friends had all disappeared as suddenly as they’d appeared at first. Even Jacki had awkwardly told me that she was moving on to new adventures. Taylor had crawled deep into the woodwork. His social media accounts had all gone dead and his friends all claimed they didn’t know where he was.

Part of me wanted to hire a PI and bring the lowdown thief to justice, but the larger part of me knew (1) I didn’t have the funds for a PI, (2) it was no use; he was gone for good, (3) I had nothing to prove any wrongdoing on his part; I’d given my money to him freely, and (4) it wasn’t all Taylor’s fault. I was the one who’d invited him and Jacki to live with me. I was the one who’d spent fortunes on the priciest furnishings for the house. I was the one who’d wasted thousands on expensive wines. I was the one who’d purchased lavish jewelry (all of which I’d pawned for so-to-say nothing). I was at fault for this mess as much as Taylor.

Sitting at my plastic table in my dimly lit kitchen/dining room/living room, I nearly laughed. What if my Mayfield friends saw me now? What if… what if Daddy saw me now?

I shivered. I was rather okay with the fact that he didn’t.

 

“Table 16’s done!” Paige yelled. “Alison, you clearing?”

“Yeah, okay.” I forced my aching feet to Table 16 and began stacking the dirty dishes. The lady clearly hadn’t touched her fries. Intense hunger cramped my stomach. Swallowing my last ounce of self-respect, I stuck one limp fry into my mouth.

“Seriously!” Paige loomed over me, her eyes wide.

I cringed. How could I explain that my cupboards were bare? I hadn’t eaten today… or yesterday. And it was almost five. Last week I’d sold my almost-new Gucci boots for ten bucks so that I could buy milk. The pit in my stomach grew as I brought the dishes to the kitchen.

“Order ready! Table Nine!” the cook announced, unnecessarily loud.

I reached for the plate, but my hand didn’t find it. My fingers tingled, then grew numb. The ding and clatter of the diner quieted. Black nothingness threatened me and I welcomed it.

 

Someone kept saying my name.

I didn’t want to open my eyes, but I did.

The big lady from table nine leaned over me. “You can hear me, young lady?”

I just looked at her.

Paige, Cook, and the other waitresses gawked from a safe distance.

The lady held my hand. “It’ll be okay, dear.” She handed me a glass of water and helped me sit up enough to drink.

“Okay, show’s over!” Boss clapped his beefy hands. “Back to work, girls. Alison, try to move out of the way.”

After a minute or two, the lady gently led me out the back door and sat on the wooden steps with me. We gazed out over the trashy alley in silence.

Finally I said, “Thank you.”

She squeezed my shoulder. “Go home, darling. You’ll be okay.” Then she got up and waddled away.

I watched her retreating form. Her shiny black hair reminded me of our housekeeper back home. Adriana. Adriana, who earned a lot more than I did. Adriana, who ate all she wanted. Adriana, who lived in my father’s house.

I blinked. Could I? Would he let me? Would he even consider letting me come back? After I’d disgraced his name by leaving, after I’d squandered his money, after I’d acted a stupid spoiled brat? Would he even consider letting me work for him? Would he even remember me?

I got up, holding to the side of the building. Tears dropped from my chin to the blacktop. I’d been so wrong, so selfish. Maybe if I begged for mercy, Daddy would allow me to work for room and board. It was my last shot.

The restaurant and my boss were forgotten as I shuffled to my rattletrap of a car and drove home. Apprehensively I opened my banking app. Yes! My paycheck had been deposited. Several hundred dollars. Enough for a plane ticket to go home.

 

Thanks for reading! The fifth and final part should be up in a few days! be blessed!

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