People, when in doubt, are good. That's what Beth reminds herself as the man in front of her haucks back into his throat and propels his head forward to spit viciously at the tiled ground, below. The bald of his head, surrounded by slick and greasy strands of black, shines under the florescent lights as he baubles about in his actions. He's taller than she is, but still short enough to see the tired and burly man behind the counter glare, as Spitter raises a coated arm to wipe at the residue left behind on his mouth. And she knows, as a working girl, herself, how the man with the name tag must feel; even though she is probably disgusted enough for the both of them. And stunned. Because, sometimes Beth forgets that some people think they can act however they want to, here in the big city. She darts big blue eyes from the shiny patch of skin, to the spit splatted onto the dirty floor, to the cashier; and attempts to offer him her most sympathetic smile. But, he's not paying her any mind. He's watching Spitter rifle through a black leather wallet for the few bucks needed to pay for his eight boxes of microwave lasagna.

A few snorts and heavy breaths later, Spitter grabs his two bags off of the counter and turns to leave. She catches his attention, first, though. Standing there with her small town looks, her gallon of milk, and package of whole wheat bagels in hand. She also happens to be wearing a pair of light pink pajama bottoms that are speckled with tiny white flowers all over the fabric. The ends are tucked haphazardly into the brim of her boots, so that they don't glide across the early morning mist that's soaked into the streets. And (seeing as it's only just after five) her eyes are tired.

"Good mornin'," she responds to his uncomfortable leer, with a downward tip of her head and her smile faltering ever so slightly. His chuckle is just as off putting as the puddle on the ground, which she promptly steps around to make her way to the counter to slide her items over.

It's brisk out, this morning, and she wants to get back.

Nine dollars and forty-six cents later, Beth reaches out a small hand to grab the plastic bag being pushed her way.

"Thank you," her fingers wrap through the two small loops and tug forward to bring the weight of the bag banging gently against her thigh. And then she's pushing the glass door open with the flat of her palm. The bell overhead dings on her way out into the elements; wind immediately whipping stray wisps of blonde hair that haven't managed to remain in her loosely strung ponytail, into her eyes. Wind dancing across the smooth flesh of her cheek, making it blush from the chill.

She should be more used to this.

The cold.

Beth can practically hear the heals of her boots thumping in her ears, like a heartbeat, as they puncture out a beat against the pressed gum and stray paper ridden pavement. It's not like the farm and the lush green plush of the grass sliding against the souls of her shoes. Or, like the rough gravel of their front walk scratching together as she walks in the direction of the aging barn on the far side of the property. This pavement is flat and dirty. And she's surrounded by other early risers on their way to work and breakfast. Towards bosses and bacon.

She does her best to duck and dodge those who feel they own the sidewalk. Coated shoulders knocking against coated shoulders. There's enough room to not be on top of each other at this time of the morning, but it doesn't seem to matter to anyone else. To all of these people who seem to believe it's below them to look anyone else in the eye for more than half a second and sneer when one apologizes for getting in their way. She waits at the curb for the walk way sign to flash with a little green running man, before starting across the street; her hand gripping the strap of her purse.

Beth doesn't quite know what she expected when she'd first loaded all of those brown cardboard boxes into the back of her old pick up, that had been passed down to her from her Daddy. The tan one with the long cab seat and wired radio that she'd grown up in; taking the long winding roads into town for her mom's weekly Errand Day. It had been a loved and celebrated occasion when she was still braiding her hair into pigtails on either side of her head and decorating each of them with a bow. Yellow. To match her hair. And then to school every morning from kindergarten to high school, before she was finally taught to drive it on her own.

Beth's not stupid and she ain't never been stupid. She knew that it'd be different.

She was more than aware that once her Daddy and mom dropped her off, that all of those familiar things in her life would change. She knew that she wouldn't be able to walk out her front door to feel the uninterrupted sunshine against her skin. That she wouldn't even have a front door to call her own. Or, at least one that led immediately to the outside world and not a dingy hallway with a flickering light bulb. Sky scrappers and automobile smog would dampen the night sky. The bright and clear stars lighting the black canvas she was so familiar with would be a thing of the past, for the time being.

Beth knew that taking a stroll down to the nearby convenient store a block or two away wouldn't be the same as strolling into the local market on a late Saturday afternoon to pick up the items her mom had phoned in for. Pattie, the register lady (always sat proudly at first till), and her round and accustomed face wouldn't be around to call out to her in greeting when the cow bell attached to the door rattled against her arrival. Wouldn't be nearby to grill her about "which ever boy's got The Eyes" for her, as of late. That the tired man behind the counter at Franco's (the one who had to deal with gross men spitting onto his floor at five in the morning - and probably a plethora of other disgusting things) still hadn't registered the plains of her face and probably never would; even after visiting as often as she did.

She knew this and yet… she wasn't as prepared, as she ought to of been. Not really. And so, when the leggy woman with the brown designer coat and sky high black heals knocks into her (two feet from the front of her building) and doesn't even think to utter an apology; Beth straightens herself back up, walks to the main door, puts her key in the lock, and tries to remind herself that people, when in doubt, are good.


The clunk of her feet against the stairs thuds out in the empty stairwell and Beth sighs for the eighty millionth time.

She lives on the fifth floor and (like some ridiculous movie cliche) the elevator has been broken since she first moved in. Daddy had scoffed at the conditions of the entry level hallway and fixed her with his most wary look. The grey hairs of his eyebrows pulling in and the corners of his mouth turning down. He'd been trying to convince her that moving away had been a terrible idea, from the very start of the decision. That she wasn't ready to be so far away on her own. That she was too young and too impressionable. And when he'd lent forward and twisted his neck to look up all of the many levels that they were going to have to drag her possessions up, his mind had not been changed. But the building's landlord, an older man with grey hair and a plethora of Hawaiian shirts, had clapped her Daddy carefully on the shoulder and offered him a reassuring smile. "I've got somebody coming in to fix that," he'd promised while sliding a muted gold key into Beth's shaking hand. "Don't you worry about it."

That had been two months ago. Two months of Beth dragging her tired or wired body up and down these same black steps. Two months of huffing breaths, as she felt the ache of her feet after a long day standing on her them.

She continues to pull the heavy weight of her boots up each stair, one by one, until she hears it. The barking. The barking she hears every morning, at some time or another. Happy and deep yips coming out of the dog that Beth is pretty sure lives in 5C, which is diagonally across the walk. She's never seen it, before. The dog. But, even in her own apartment in her back bedroom, she's continuously woken up every day at five by it's morning greetings from across the hall.

A living alarm clock she didn't ask for and doesn't know how to return to the store, without a receipt.

Usually she nods right back to sleep, after a little deliriously sputtered confusion into the dark morning air; blonde hair tangled around her ears and droopy eyelids fluttering, as the barking and a quiet voice slowly passes by her door and down the stairs. But some days, like today, she just can't seem to fall back under and ends up scrounging for an early breakfast before work, before realizing she hasn't gone grocery shopping in a week. Then, she shoves her socked feet in her boots (not bothering to change out of whatever pajamas she fell asleep in) and pulls her coat on to walk down the few blocks to Franco's Convenient Store to find something easy and quick to make.

She'd rather have a stack of fluffy, warm, wheat hotcakes. Or, perhaps, the biscuits and sausage gravy that her mom has always been so skilled at making, whenever her kids had a moment before school. But, on a day to day basis, bagels tend to end up being the more likely, out here on her own. Sometimes she can manage to cook up an egg or two if she can happen to find the time - before she has to dash through a stream of water and soap, throw her itchy uniform on, and shuffle herself off to her too many hours at the diner.

As she lands on the flat plain of her floor, she steps up to the door closest to the stairwell, 5A, and shoves her gloved hand under the front flap of her purse to rummage around for her key ring. It usually falls down to the bottom of her bag, underneath crumpled receipts, empty sucker wrappers, and the black inked clicky pens that she's become so accustomed to over the last sixty or so days. It's going on six in the morning, though, and she's only got so long to shower. So, she makes quick work of locating what she needs to and letting herself inside. The swish of her door sliding against her tan carpet and shutting is echoed by the swoosh of another separate door opening out in the hall and the quick clicking of blunt nails dancing repeatedly on the wood floor, as well.

Beth reaches the flat of her palm out to brace herself on the wall, while she pushes off her shoes, with her toes.

Her feet hurt and she hasn't even spent all day on them, yet.

"I get it; you gotta piss," a rough and tired voice mumbles through the dark wood of her door. It's followed by a small huff of breath and the clicking scratching on past her and down the stairs that she just finished climbing. Yeah, Beth has never seen the dog that won't stop waking her up too early every morning. But, she's never seen the owner, either. If she ever does manage to track down the face that goes along with the voice she hears from time to time, she doesn't actually know what she'd do about it. Two months ago, when she was setting a box down (the one carrying the bright orange plates that her mom had bought for her) on top of another one just outside her door, a short and concerning hunched man had shuffled out of the apartment next to hers; muttering to himself about what the birds had told him when he'd sat on his porch the night prior. Her Daddy had grumbled underneath his breath and fixed her mom with a distressed look, before he turned to her and told her to be careful while she was alone in the city; day or night, it didn't matter. To be careful and mindful of her surroundings. To lock her door at night, before she went to sleep. To lock her door during the day, when she was wide awake. To be cautious of all of these new people that she was choosing to surround herself with, instead of her flesh and blood. Which turned out to be yet another massive change that Beth wasn't used to, yet; not knowing everybody and everything around her, at all times.

Not knowing all of her neighbors.

Not knowing all of their various interests and various habits and various times that they roll into church on every Sunday morning; when the warm sun has just risen to that special spot in the sky and the birds are chirping in content greetings.

If any of them even go to church.

If Beth was to take a six hour drive out of the city, she'd find herself in a town full of people she knew and who knew her, in return. People and neighbors and friends that she'd grown up with - in one of those towns that she knows the rest of the people on the planet don't even think are real. One of those towns where you can't help but to recognize and have relations with the faces and names of every single being you passed in street; including those of the dogs attached to the leashes casually clutched in loose fingers.

She'd know of John Crafter, his thick brown beard, and his wonky, left, big toe that he'd stubbed one day against his tractor (which never did manage to set right). She'd know he always walked with a slight limp because of it and liked to show the crooked angle of the bone off to whatever little kids showed their peeked interest. She'd know of his large and healthy corn field, which never seemed to be anything other than perfectly green. Like, how corn fields look on television and in the movies. The field that he allowed the local elementary school to take field trips to, whenever the weather got warmer and he could wrangle together enough additions to offer up hay rides to bubbly children.

She'd know of Mrs. Fleeting and her six stray cats; bowls of milk and meal lining along the flat of her front yard. Beth knew that if she walked past the small and comfortable home on Tuesdays, just before the streetlamp's came on, Mrs. Fleeting would waddle her weight through her squeaky screen door, with a basket of chocolate chip cookies for Beth to take home to her own family. Then, as per tradition her brother, Shawn, would eat the majority of them, before the rest of the household even got a proper chance.

Mrs. Fleeting had taught her once (when Daddy had taken her mom out of town to a relative's party that Beth wasn't invited to - and she'd been left there for watching over) how to add the eggs and the butter and the sugar at just the right moments. How to beat all of the ingredients together to produce the softest batch and how to present them to people with a large and blinding smile.

She'd know of the Jone's and their three boys, all of who lived in the light blue house on Chestnut Avenue - in between the hardwood store and the local Soda Shoppe. The light blue house with the large, oak wood, wrap around porch and the old worn tire swing that liked to sway gently with the breeze of the day. She knew of their two eight year old twins, Petey and Louis, with flaming red hair, freckled faces, and mud ridden t-shirts.

The corners of Beth's lips twitched familiarly, while she shuffled further into her apartment; shrugging her coat off of her shoulders and tossing it over the back of her couch. Then, making her way towards the kitchen and towards the toaster oven.

She knew of the twin's older brother, Jimmy, who Beth had known from play dates since she was just a little girl who still brought her peanut butter and jelly to school in a plastic Spice Girls lunchbox, with matching thermos full of apple juice. Jimmy Jones, with his gangling, long limbs and twitchy gaze. Jimmy Jones, who had chucked mashed potatoes at her during lunch period, from third to fifth grade. Before realizing, one day in their sophomore year of high school, that he'd much rather brush unsure lips across the flush of her cheek and awkwardly shove the sweaty pads of his fingers underneath the hem of her shirt and up towards the edge of her bra.

Uncomfortable and unsure in all of the ways that virginal teenagers must be, at one point in their lives.

She frowns, as she pulls a bagel out from it's plastic wrapping and throws it onto the metal rack that's been heating up. The glowing clock on the microwave about the toaster oven says it's 6:05, which gives her five minutes to eat, ten minutes to shower, two minutes to change, eight minutes to successfully complete a twelve minute walk, and zero minutes to remind herself about any of the good times that she has ever had with a kid like Jimmy Jones.

She doesn't have time to think about all of the things in her life that she's less than satisfied with.

Ripping a butter knife out of the drawer and pulling the packet of cream cheese out of the fridge; Beth let's out a shaky breath, as she pulls her bread from the oven and starts to scrape a thin layer of the cheese on top. When she's done, she takes a quick bite and chews, before locking the piece between her teeth and making her way to the bathroom; pulling pieces of clothing off, along the way, and trying to scarf down her breakfast.

She doesn't have time to think about the way Jimmy looked at her when she finally told him to stop calling her or her Daddy's lack of faith in her ability to live alone.

But, she does.

She does whenever she opens her refrigerator and remembers she hasn't been to the shop in forever. Or when she looks around to the clothing basket that rests next to her low sat bed, that sits at the far back wall. The basket of syrup and coffee stained polo's that have yet to take the journey from her apartment to the laundry room in the building's basement, in more than a week. She does whenever she thinks of home and all of the things that used to come with that word but, no longer apply; the sound of her mother calling up the stairs to wake her up for school and morning chores, the smell of hotcakes on the griddle in the kitchen, the sight of Daddy sat on the porch reading from the bible, and the horrid stench of a heady and overpowering soap emitting from the bathroom where her brother's taking his morning shower. The body wash that he thought would make the Bird's at school swoon as he walked past.

She does whenever she remembers how Maggie had once been the brave sister that had branched out on her own to go off to college. Had met a cute boy who would lick the ground that she walked on, if only she asked it of him. Had gotten that boy, Glenn, good and attached to her boisterous attitude and her heart. Before caving a little while later and returning home, with him; a country girl through and through. She does whenever she remembers Maggie looking around the tiny space of her apartment and staring her down with that something in her eyes. That something that said, despite their difference in biological mother, that they were the same. The pair of them. That sooner or later, Beth Greene would cave just as Maggie Greene had caved. That she, just like her, didn't have the back bone to be constantly amongst the smog and the noise. To be away from the stars. That her heart would too strongly ache for the feel of grass and untainted air sliding down into her lungs. That she'd miss walking down the street and being able to start a conversation with someone about the next town bake sale. How she'd be making two desserts and how she couldn't wait.

Standing blankly under the weak trickling spray of water that her shower provides (cold in the cold, because she's afraid to use too much hot water), she wonders for the millionth time if her sister is right?

If Daddy is right?

If Jimmy's cold angry gaze and touch were right?

If she was as weak as her whole town seemed to think that she was?

"You'll be back before you blink," Pattie had grinned four days before she left; before registering Beth's face, stalling, squaring her shoulders off, and patting the back of Beth's hand. "I mean … you're going to do great, Bumble Bee. We all know it. You know that, right?"

Her breath catches in the base of her throat in the way that it does and she leans further underneath the embarrassment of a stream. Beth doesn't know when she started feeling like this. Like, the entire city, still so strange and unfamiliar, was trying to crush it's steel walls down against the soft flesh of her chest and drown her. Like, she had never actually wanted to get away from wide open fields and the foul but accustomed smell of the manuer that she used to have to shovel almost everyday from the cattle's pen. Like, wanting to build herself as her own individual persona, away from what she's always known and been known as, was all a hallucination that she'd sillily dreamt up, one day. And that she'd made a terrible terrible mistake.

Pulling up at her knee; Beth drags the wet of her feet out from the edge of the tub and to the mat, below. She let's the droplets of water slide down, as she hastefully wraps a towel around the span of her body and starts out of the room. The clock on the microwave says she's wasted too much time in the shower, thinking. So, she towels off her hair for not nearly enough time and hurries on her black pleated skirt and issued, slightly used, navy polo. If Beth remembers correctly, she wore this one a only a few days ago, when a grumpy little boy with mischief in his brown eyes, flicked his scrambled eggs on the floor. Stuck little lumps of yellow settled onto the end of his fork, grabbed hold, pulled back with his thumb, and really let it fly.

Her calves and thighs are still a little damp, so her attempt to pull her black stockings up against the friction has her fumbling a little bit; legs bumping against the arm of her couch and her wet hair flopping around and sticking to the side of her neck. She can't worry about it, though. She can only struggle the stockings into place and put her boots back onto her feet.

The little boy's parents had somehow found a way to make it her fault, as parents out in public often seem to do. As if she'd been sat on his shoulder encouraging their little devil to be a darn pain in her ass; to secure her the extra work of scrounging up the dust pan from the back room and sweeping up little crumbles of food and other various bits that she didn't want to think about, at the time. She hadn't done so and she hadn't been pleased with the accused assumption. Beth loves herself some kids. But, not that one.

Sweeping dripping hair into a fast and messy bun sat atop her head, she makes sure that the red logo is situated right and that her name tag is pinned just over it, on her left breast. Beth G. Accompanied by a tiny picture of a little egg. It's sunny side up. It has eyes … and legs.

It's dancing.

She wants to roll her eyes at the caricature, because it's silly and far more excited to be an egg, than an egg should ever be. But, when in doubt, her job at The Dog is a constant in her new life of non-constants and she needs that. So, she takes the ugly little egg in stride, does her absolute best to find it as fun and cute, as she knows that it's supposed to be, and makes sure to grab her apron before flying out of her door and back down the stairs.


The all too familiar sound of eggs, bacon, and batter sizzling on the stove invades her senses (all of her senses), as Beth grabs the prosperously red handle on the glass door and shuffles herself out of the wind and inside. The smell of an actual breakfast frying up on the stove and the low thrum of conversation from the few patrons who are already sat at tables and in booths, warms Beth's heart in a way she's all too happy to admit. Even in this place of pain sometimes, to her head and her feet; she's determined to find pleasure. In fact, she's pretty sure that her job at the diner is the only thing keeping her afloat, at the moment. It's the only thing that she's got that (no matter how terrible the work actually is) reminds her that she's doing it; surviving without her Daddy in the next bedroom over to lead her right when she's walked astray in life.

The Dog is large enough to move around comfortably and not be sitting on top of the next table over. But, it's small enough to feel small. Close enough quarters and tan painted walls that feel familiar. It's a family vibe in the middle of the steel walls that surround their every being. Beth likes it here, because it reminds her of the family house. There are knickknacks lining the walls; signs, awards, and photos of old employees and new ones. The tables in the middle of the floor are wood instead of aluminum and the chairs are white to contrast the dark of the grain. The booths along the walls have cushions to soften your seating, but those get on Beth's nerves from time to time, because they've got to be washed and vacuumed after so many uses.

Shrugging her shoulders in a circular motion, she shucks her coat off, as she strides in through the front walk and past the counter; where Haley, a young girl with her light brown hair pulled into a simple ponytail, is wiping down silverware.

"Hey, girl," Haley greets, glancing up through her lashes, taking in Beth's rumpled appearance; her wet hair and tired eyes, and finally laughing too loud into the morning air. "Wow … you look like shit," the corners of her lips turn up in a teasing grin. "Hey, remember when you first got a job here? You looked so fucking perfect everyday, with your cute little braids and perfectly applied makeup — I wanted to stab myself in the gut."

Beth rolls her eyes and huffs a small breath, as she hangs her coat and bag on the employee rack on the far wall. "I look the same, Haley," she states, as she rifles through her bag to grab the fabric tucked inside and drags her white apron out. It's made for full body use but, like every other day, Beth folds the top down and pulls the string around the indent of her waist.

"Oh no. Nope. You totally don't," Haley leans further into the counter and continues her lazy swiping. A man in a sharply ironed suit pushes the front door open and looks around, but Haley does nothing but frown in annoyance, wave a hand in the direction of all of the open tables, and continue to speak. "You look like one of us regular folk. It's a nice change."

The bow Beth ties is tight and structured, settled in place against the low of her back, just like a bow is supposed to look. She pats her hands down against it, making sure she's got everything she needs to start the day; that the notepad in the front pocket is heavy against her hip and one of pens is secure on the lip of the fabric. When she knows she's all set she heads back out to where Haley is. Then, she grabs the coffee pot that's already been brewed and swerves back out from behind the counter towards the businessman who had decided to sit in her section.

Haley is loud. That's the first thing that Beth had said to describe her coworker when Daddy had called seven days after he'd first dropped her off and left her behind. Haley is loud and she's brash and sometimes (which actually means almost all of the time) she says things about Beth that, from anyone else, would and should be taken as an insult. Things about her appearance in the morning or the way that she responds to the nasty old women with purple hair, who always sits in Beth' section and steals the sugar packets. (With a chirpy little smile and a boatload of the manners she was born and raised with on her little Georgia farm.) But, Haley does the same exact thing to everyone that she comes into contact with. She mocks the girls that the pair of them work with from time to time, that always call off from work on the busiest days. She cackles over T's singing (that all of them can always hear through the kitchen window) as he's making chicken fingers for grubby little kids. She shares too much information and requests too much in return, if she thinks you're in a mood to take the questioning. Haley babbles on too loud when everyone around her has just woken up and pokes fun at the things that she knows you're worrying about. And so, she knows that there are days, like this one, where Beth walks into The Dog with a pre-determined chip on her shoulder; even if she doesn't particularly know why.

"Coffee mister?" Beth asks, as she rounds up on the table. But, the man doesn't say anything to her . So, Beth hovers there for far too long, in her opinion, as he types away at his phone; continuing to ignore her. "... Mister?" she tries again. And Beth knows, without looking behind her, that Haley is snickering into the spoon that she's probably been rubbing for the last half hour, as she ignores the tables she's supposed to be serving.

Haley hates people.

Haley hates people almost as much as Beth hates waking up at five in the morning, without any proper reason to.

"Mister? Coffee?" Beth asks again and she waits, as he clicks a few more times against the keys. When he finally finds it in himself to stop, he flips his cup over without saying anything and glares in her direction. The heat from the top of the pot is sliding up through the air and it's making the side of Beth's neck sort-of hot. But, she doesn't say anything about that or how annoying she already knows that he's going to be; just reaches out her hand to grab the mug and pull it closer to her to pour in the hot liquid. He's finally set his phone to the side and looks her over. He's the same sort-of unpleasant that Beth is becoming so used to in the city. Far too big for his britches and without an ounce of class or respect for the people going out of their ways to make other's lives just a horse's hair easier. "We've got everything we serve on this menu, right here," she bites out with a controlled smile, pulling the pot away and tugging a plastic covered menu out from the wicker basket in the center of the table. "We're servin' all breakfast items all day. But, you can order lunch, as well. T' would be happy to fry somethin' up." She watches him watch her and arches an eyebrow in question, "… Or are you just planning on sittin' here?"

"I'll take the turkey omelette," his voice spews and he raises a hand to run through his over-gelled hair. Beth pulls her pen out to write his order down with a nod and begins to turn away but, his voice catches her again. "The menu says it's two eggs, but I'd obviously like three. And if you could be so kind," his growl pulls into a lazy smile that has Beth remembering Spitter, from earlier in the morning. "You'll get that out real quick, Sweetheart. No real man likes a dawdler. We want them to finish quick."

She can feel her lost hour of sleep beginning to creep up on the bones holding her body together, already, and it's only her first customer. So, Beth does her best to suppress the rolling of her eyes from happening directly in front of him, as she spins on the ball of her feet and not so nicely stomps over to the window. Haley watches her trek, without moving her head and tosses the spoon down, so she can pick up a fork.

The sudden tensing of her shoulders relaxes some as her boss' voice grows louder, but she doesn't feel any better. "I need a turkey omelette. With three eggs, please," she says with a false chipper tone, leaning in some, so that she can see T. Dog's head bopping up and down, along to the radio that he's mounted on the far wall. He's smiling (another morning person, in her life) and singing along to some smooth jam number that Beth hasn't ever had the pleasure of hearing, before.

"Well, hello to you, too!" His voice is as bright and clear as the first breath of morning air. His head is dotted with little speckles of sweat, but he doesn't seem to mind. He simply flips the french toast that he's been working on and immediately swirls to crack the eggs and pull up a whisk. "One of those mornings, I see. Don't you worry, kid. It's gonna be a good day!"

Beth's not so sure, though. On days like this, when she's up before the sun, one bad thing tends to follow another bad thing and the goodness of the day never seems to find it's feet. It continues to waddle around in concerning patterns, like a new broken rider pulling itself off a horse for the first time. Wide and certainly unstable steps, crashing one right into the other.

"Tough morning, then?" Haley plops down onto on of the stools that they've got set up behind the cash register. She's got a plate in one hand and one of the forks she's just cleaned, in the other. But, this time the plate has sausage links on it and she's chewing on one of them. Beth rolls her head on her shoulders in a way that's supposed to indicate that her friend has it right. And, as always, Haley gets it. "Is it still the dog? How can it still be the fucking dog?"

"It's bladder is biologically set to go off before the roosters call. Don't ask me, I don't get it, either."

"You know what you need to do, Beth?" Haley stabs her fork down - piercing the outer flesh of her link. "You need to track down this asshole across the hall and give him a piece of your mind. Hey! Do you want me to kill him? 'Cause I'll do it."

Beth laughs, then, and finds it in her to offer Haley a small smile of appreciation. "That's just a fantastic idea, Haley, honestly," she hums. "But, I think we'll not do that. Mama would be ashamed to know she'd raised such a girl."

"I've heard you talk about your sister," Haley shovels another piece into her mouth and talks around it. "Believe me, she 'ready did."

More people begin to file in, as the sun rises to a more acceptable space in the sky and Beth begins serving her other tables, as T. works on her food. She gets a crying baby, a kid who's banging his fork against the table top, a man who's known to show up every single day to drink just orange juice and nothing else, and the cute little family of three in the corner who smile when she gives them drinks - all in one quick moment. As she walks from person to person to get them situated and orders filed, every single pass, her businessman makes another grating comment.

Her businessman makes another unnecessary request.

Her businessman hounds her for his food.

Beth feels herself fuming and tired and done, before she's even truly began the day. So, Haley stops her from walking over, again.

"I got this, girl. You take care of the cute ass cop and his wife. I'll take care of the douche bag with the fake designer suit," she pats Beth's back carefully. T. slides the omelette over and Haley takes it from him with careful hands, so that she doesn't burn herself on the warmth of the plate. From where Beth's standing, re-filling the coffee pots, she's pretty sure she can hear the kindness of her friend's delivery. "Hiya, dude. You're lucky Beth's nicer than me, you know? I would've spit in this."

But, she doesn't have a moment to scold Haley for saying it in front of so many people, because the little drummer boy proceeds to knock over his glass of milk.


Beth would like to get drunk.

In fact, she thinks about it on the whole walk home from The Dog. There's no way that she can get away with another night of not doing her laundry, because her black skirt has an unfortunately dried brown stain on the edge - that happens to look horrifically like vomit. It's not, though; it's just oatmeal. But, it smells funky and it's made the fabric all stiff. She doesn't know what she was thinking when she went to grab onto the bowl. T. Dog had told her to wait for just a little while; that the bowl had been sat close to to stove and it need time to cool down. But, she'd went for it without much thought and sent it crashing to her and to the ground. It was one of the five million mistakes that's she's made since she was forced awake. It was one of the six million things that had her slapping her forehead with her hand and praying for the day to end. So, Beth would like to get drunk and wipe this horrific day from her mind. She knows that she doesn't have anything already at home. But, she also knows that she's exhausted. She can practically feel the bags under her eyes drooping further down her face, as gravity does it's job and doesn't really have it in her to stop off somewhere and pick something up. So, instead, she keeps on shuffling her feet and tries to mentally will away her day.

When she comes up to the front of her building, however, she pauses.

There's a rottweiler sitting on the front steps, with it's tongue rolled out from it's mouth, panting happily into thin air. It's got a collar on and a leash attached to it, which is stretched out pin straight, where it's stuck in the wedge of the door.

Beth looks around for half a second, to see no one anywhere nearby. Just this fat little dog, wagging it's tail without a care in the world, despite it's current predicament.

"Dog?" she calls, as she edges herself closer to the steps. Rottweiler's, from what she thinks she knows, are supposed to be mean things, with rotten temperaments. Dangerous. But, this little guy perks at the sound of her voice and attempts to roll his head over in her direction. It doesn't go as well as he'd like it to, however. Because, the pulled tight leash doesn't allow him much give to move. And Beth realizes that it needs somebodies help. "Oh! You poor little puppy!" she calls again; her mood spiked some and rushes up the steps, whilst trying to find her key. The dog keeps panting and swipes a paw out to hit at her leg, completely oblivious. She makes sure to put a hand around the leash, before she tugs the door open, so that he can't run away when she wedges him free. But, the second the door swings open, she's face to chest with a tall man in leather sleeves, struggling with three separate duffle bags and the the leash handle slipping just so out of his finger tips. "I'm so sorry! Do you all need some help?" Beth pulls the door fully open and steps back some to give him some room. Daddy told her to be cautious of everyone and based on what she's learnt, so far, he's more right than she's ever given him credit for.

The man in front of her is tall, with longer dark brown hair falling over and hooding his eyes from her sight. But, underneath all of that fringe, she can see the scowl prominently present on the set of his lips. Beth's first thought is that it's from his obvious predicament; bags falling in his hands and dog pulled too far away from him. But, when he looks up and the blue of his eyes meet hers, her breath is knocked back into her throat. His frustration at her being in his way is shoved full force into her face and she stutters for something else to say that isn't going to make the corners of his lips turn even further south.

Daddy told her to be cautious of everyone and based on what she's learnt, so far, he's more right than she ever wanted to give him credit for - she repeats in her head as she takes in the sight in front of her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Beth registers who she must be standing with. That the little creature, which has decided to lay down where it sat is the cause of all of her problems and the man attached to it is the owner of that cause. This man looks like the definition of her Daddy's advice and suddenly Beth can't recall any of the things that she'd been trying to conjure up to say to him if she ever got the chance. Blank. She's got nothing, but the shock of such a face being hurdled so suddenly in her direction. Still struggling with his bags, he rips the leash out from her hand, without another second wasted.

"… No," is all he grunts underneath his breath, before shuffling around her persons as far away as he can and shuffling to the pick up truck that she hasn't seen parked at the curb.

She watches the dog strut down the stairs after him and sit outside of the drivers' side. He swings the bags up into the bed of the truck and opens the door, where the dog promptly hops inside and walks to the other end. A few seconds later he's in, as well, and the pair of them are pulling away from the curb. She watches the truck drive down the street, before it turns the corner and she's left there alone.

If Beth was to take a six hour drive out of the city, she'd find herself in a town full of people she knew and who knew her, in return. People and neighbors and friends that she'd grown up with - in one of those towns that she knows the rest of the people on the planet don't even think are real. One of those towns where you can't help but to recognize and have relations with the faces and names of every single being you passed in street; including those of the dogs attached to the leashes casually clutched in loose fingers.

But, here, in this city where the stars don't shine on black canvas and the air ain't so clear; she doesn't know anyone. She's got a friend at work with a mouth bigger than the Black Georgia Sea Bass Daddy and Shawn catch during the summer. She's got the man at Franco's who refuses to register her name or presence. Now, she's got this man; with a frustration and annoyance set into the very grains of his face and who can't find the time to kindly accept help when it's offered to him.

And that makes three men in one day that Beth never ever wants to see again. As, she shuffles through the front door, Beth struggles to remember when she started feeling like this and when it would ever change.

A/N: Okily dokily. Hi there, lovelies! Thanks so much for reading. I can't remember the last time that I attempted to write fanfiction, so I hope that you'll be gentle with my fragile soul, as I figure out the flow of how I want this to go. I've got some plans for this and there will be chapters in Daryl's point of view, as well. Reviews and comments are welcome, of course. And you can find me on tumblr at c-sand.