The cars whizzed past as she walked along the dark busy highway this September morning. It had begun to rain and the dark asphalt road gave way to the release of dirt and automobile oil that was imbedded in its cracks. The moisture and grime from the road pelted her body as cars sped by whipping her wet skirt in the man-made breeze.
It was late summer, but fall was in the air as she clutched her thin cashmere sweater closely around her shoulders to ward off the chill. Trudging slowly along, cars honked a warning at her to keep out of the way, but she walked on shifting her knapsack as if not hearing.
How did she come to be here along this miserable stretch of thoroughfare in the rain? Only a few days earlier 23 year old Deidra Connolly was happy and snug in her own tiny world.
The sound of a drill was echoing in her mind as Deidra was waking up one August morning. Rolling over toward the irritating sound, she realized that her alarm was going off and invading her dreams. Sluggishly, she threw her arm over to hit the alarm. She lay on her back half awake enjoying the sound of a soft gentle rain on the roof not wanting to get out of her soft warm bed. The smell of coffee drifted through the room enticing her stomach to rumble. Finally, yawning and stretching she obeyed the rumblings coming from her empty stomach and padded down the dim hallway into the small kitchen as the automatic coffee maker sputtered out the last dribbling of fresh brewed coffee.
She poured herself a coup of the dark brew and added milk to cool it off and then shuffled to the front door to see if the morning paper was there. Unchaining and then unlocking the deadbolt Deidra cautiously opened the apartment door and looked out as she leaned over to pick up the morning paper. She quickly darted back in and shut the door so as not to be seen in her nightshirt. Her neighbor from across the hall was a burly, but not a bad looking man by the name of Ralph Salt. He caught her once before in her pajamas and felt uncomfortable with the half smile he gave her.
Walking back to the kitchen she passed the living room mirror and vogued flipping her long strawberry blonde hair. Her violet blue eyes were surrounded by yesterday’s mascara rings making her decide that looking in a mirror this early in the morning was not a good idea. Going back to sit at the kitchen table Deidra gazed around the room not believing she was this lucky to have a wonderful place to live and such a fantastic job to help pay for it. It had been a year since the opportunity of a lifetime had fallen into her lap.
She had been a waitress in the 24 hour Brookhouse Café and was getting nowhere since dropping out of college. Being a waitress was the worst job she had ever had and it looked as it would be all she would ever do. Jobs were scarce and she had no prospects for any leads when in walked Jonathan Bragg. He was a tall, slender but muscular man who walked with authority in his step. Deidra was in such awe by his good looks that she dropped a plate of the meatloaf and mashed potato special on the stained linoleum floor.
Jonathan Bragg was a very handsome man with dark hair, highlighted by the sun and light hazel eyes. His tan and chiseled face crinkled as he smiled at Deidra revealing perfect white teeth and two slight dimples punctuating his square jaw line. She knew when their eyes met that he was the one for her.
"Darn, he’s sitting in your station," said Emma, snapping her gum as she brushed by Deidra, her arms laden with plates of the cafe’s specials.
Emma had been at the Brookhouse Café for 20 years and looked like it too. She was 43 years old, never married, but was always looking. Emma had plenty of beaus but none ever stayed long. Her curly bottle-red ponytail bounced as she made her way gracefully around the tables and chairs to deliver the hot plates.
Deidra took a deep breath and started toward the broad shoulders in the booth. She felt like she was moving in slow motion, through a haze of cigarette smoke, the distant clanging of thick glass dinner plates and the hum of low voices as she finally reached her destination.
"Hi", she weakly said as he looked into her violet eyes.
He opened his mouth to speak and out came a loud crash. Deidra jumped as she realized it was thunder. She had drifted off into an early morning daydream of Jonathan, which was her favorite past time lately. She leaned over to pet her cat and constant companion, Mr. Perkins as he rubbed around her ankles purring loudly. She found the scrawny yellow male tabby digging in the garbage cans behind the café a year earlier and rescued him. Mr. Perkins, named for Deidra’s favorite teacher in high school, was all that Deidra had until Jonathan came into her life.
Her father died when she was 13 from a heart attack. He left Deidra and her mother little except for bills and creditors nagging for money. Her mother worked cleaning houses while Deidra made her way through school. Deidra’s mother would not let her get a job except to babysit once in a while because it was so important for her to get good grades and go to college. Her mother worked so hard that the day after Diedra’s high school graduation she didn’t wake up the next morning.
Deidra tried to go to college but with what little money was put away and the few small scholarships she was able to get the money just didn’t last. It was just too hard to go to school and work, so the café was where Deidra landed. She told herself that when she got a little money put away that she could go back but that was two years ago.