Just what I need. Another story to work on but this will be a short one - probably just a few parts - and I couldn't get the idea of my head so despite having others to work on, I had to get this out.
She loads the last bag into the back of the car and slams the trunk shut with a sigh of finality. She looks up at the house as she then walks to the car door. She has never left home. When she graduated from high school and all of her friends were going off, either to college or to find jobs, she had decided to stay behind. Her mother had passed away and her daddy needed all the help he could get with the farm. She just assumed she would get to college one day. It wasn't like it was going anywhere. And besides, nothing was more important than family.
But then, just like that, her daddy dies, too, and she sits in the lawyer's office, holding hands with her older sister, Maggie, as the lawyer goes over Hershel Greene's last will and testament. He wasn't a rich man but he had money and it is split equally between the girls.
But the farm, that has been left to Maggie and only Maggie. Not even a portion of it is left to Beth and Beth sits there, letting the words register in her brain because for a moment, she sits there and doesn't understand. She had worked on the farm just as long and hard as Maggie but for whatever reason, her daddy hadn't seen her fit to work on the farm any longer.
A part of her isn't really all that surprised. Deep down, a part of her has always known that Maggie was her daddy's favorite.
Maggie comes from the house now, her eyes red. She had been crying ever since Beth told her that she was leaving but nothing her older sister could say to her could convince her to stay. What is there for her to stay for? This isn't even her home anymore and she refuses to stay and be Maggie's guest – though she knows Maggie would never ever think her to be as such. But it's what's in her head and she can't get past it. She's hurt, damn it, and angry and she's not going to pretend she's not.
Maggie sniffles and Beth is relieved when she hugs her and doesn't say a word about her staying. The conversation and arguments and pleas have been run into the ground. Beth's mind is made up and there's nothing more to say.
"You'll call me when you get there?" Maggie asks as Beth hugs her tightly in return.
"I don't even know where I'm going," Beth reminds her.
"I know," Maggie sniffles again and pulls her head back. "But call me all the same."
"I will," Beth instantly promises and she and Maggie kiss one another on the cheek before Beth turns and gets into the car.
She drives down the front dirt drive and doesn't look back in her rearview mirror once. She refuses to look back.
She has absolutely no plan or even an idea as to where to go and she simply points her car in a direction and begins to drive west.
She drives most of the day, taking random exits just because she can, driving down any road she comes across and feels like turning on. She had never driven like this – and she assumes most people haven't. Just driving with absolutely no destination. She has no idea where she's going or what will be waiting for her at the end of it but she keeps her foot on the gas and the anticipation of what it could be keeps her driving forward. She has no idea when she'll stop. Maybe she'll drive straight to California and only stop when the Pacific is visible through her windshield.
When she finally does stop, it's only because her gas light is on and she's driving practically on the 'E' and she is yawning more and more with each passing second.
She's in a small town – somewhere near the border, still in Georgia, almost in Alabama – and she manages to just make it into the one and only gas station. She fills her tank and looks around as she stands at the pump. Typical small town with shops lining the main street with houses lining the side streets. Everything is quiet even though it's not that late out and she sees a diner up ahead a few blocks, light still pouring from the windows.
There is a motel right across the street from the gas station and she goes there first. A man with thinning blonde hair and a handlebar moustache is standing behind the front desk, watching a wrestling match on his small television.
When the bell above the door tinkles and he turned his head to see who entered, his eyes lit up. "Well, hello there beautiful," he beams and her steps falter for a moment but she looks at him and doesn't feel nervous so she smiles faintly at him.
On the counter, there is a nameplate – Axel – and she can only assume that this is the man's name.
"I'm figurin' you would like a room for the night?" He asks, still smiling, and is holding a pen out for her, pushing a guest book towards her.
"Yes, please. Been driving so long, I feel like I could fall asleep right here," she says.
"Come a long way?" He asks and she notices that his smile never falters.
There is something about him that makes her want to smile, too. Perhaps his overly-thick accent that reminds her of so many people she had grown up around. Or his eyes. He actually has quite kind eyes and she never doubts a person's eyes.
"Just from the other side of the state. A little bit southeast of Atlanta," she says. "How much is a room for the night?"
"Twenty even," he says and hits a button on a cash register beside him.
She hides her surprise that it's that cheap and she takes the twenty-dollar bill from her purse, handing it towards him. In return, he hands her a key with a piece of orange plastic hanging on it – the number 2 stamped on it.
"After Psycho, people get uncomfortable stayin' in motels and being in the first room," he explains and that actually makes her laugh a little. "Let me know if you need anythin'. Room has fresh sheets and towels. The air-conditioner is just a wall unit but feel free to turn it on as high as you want."
"Thank you, Axel," she smiles and he beams as if he is pleased she used his name.
She leaves the office and hears thunder rumbling in the distance and feels the wind starting to pick up. She hurries to her car and goes to the back, pulling out the bag she knows she needs, and locks it back up, making sure the alarm beeps.
She gives Axel a wave through the open door, smiling as he shouts "Sleep well, darlin'!", and then she goes into the motel room that is hers for the night.
She locks the door behind her and is barely able to take off her boots before she collapses onto the bed and within minutes, she is sound asleep.
When she wakes up again, she can tell it's still too early judging by the pinkish hue of the light coming in through the window blinds she hadn't closed the night before.
She rolls onto her back and blinks up at the ceiling, painted white and cracked in a few places. She has absolutely no idea where she is and she still has no idea where she is going but right now, in this moment, this is as good a place as any.
There's a new man behind the front desk in the motel office – a large black man with a shaved head and a frown but his face eases a bit when she steps in and smiles a bit hesitantly at him. The name tag now says Oscar.
"Good morning," she greets.
"Morning," he nods his head towards her. "Room two. Is everything alright?"
"Oh, yes. The water pressure in that shower is amazing," she says.
"Had a man come out a couple of weeks ago to fix them all," he replies.
"Well, tell him job well done for me." She flashes another smile. "I was hoping to get my room for another night." She holds out another twenty-dollar bill.
"It's twenty a day or five days for eighty-five," he tells her.
She pauses for a moment. Spending five days here? Where exactly is here anyway? And it's not like as if she has anywhere else she has to absolutely be.
She thinks about it for another minute more before she hands him more money and he hands her five dollars in change.
She smiles, slipping it into her purse. "Where's a good place to get some breakfast?"
Turns out there is only really one place to get breakfast in Evergreen, Georgia.
The diner she saw the night before from the gas station. Tree Top Café and she heads there with a slight bounce in her step. The sidewalks are still wet from the storm the night before and it has brought in a bit of a cold front in with it. She tightens the scarf she is wearing around her neck and wonders if Maggie got the same storm. She really needs to call her.
Inside, another bell tinkles above her head when she steps through the door. It's slightly crowded – all of the tables at the windows taken. A waitress with black curly hair walks by with a tray loaded down with plates in her hand.
"Just take a seat wherever. I'll be right with you!" She called out as she passed.
Beth finds a stool at the counter and sits down, taking one of the laminated menus sticky with syrup from where it is propped between the ketchup and mustard bottles. It has the typical diner offerings and after picking out what she wants, she looks around. The place is small, linoleum and chrome and red upholstery. Silverware clinks against plates and glasses and the conversations are all hummed and meshed together. Through the window looking into the kitchen, she sees a stout black man singing along to a Smokey Robinson song playing on the radio.
"Hi," the waitress appears behind the counter on the other side of her, smiling and sounding a bit breathless. Her smile is bright and shows her white teeth and Beth smiles instantly in return. "You know what you want?" She pulls out an ordering pad and a pen she has stabbed in her hair.
"The chocolate chip pancakes," Beth orders. "And how many sausage links are there as part of the side order?"
"Can I just get two?"
"You got it. Anything to drink?"
She finishes writing and turns around, slipping the ticket through the window.
The man sitting on the stool beside Beth isn't paying attention as he talks to his companion with wild gestures and his elbow is pushing his plate closer and closer to the edge. Within a second, it is falling from the counter but Beth reacts quickly and grabs the plate before it can smash to the ground, all of the food remaining on it except for one lone bit of hash brown plopping onto the floor.
"Here you go," she smiles at the man, setting it back down.
"Wow," the waitress, having seen, smiles. "T, did you see that?" She calls back over her shoulder towards the window where the cook is also watching.
"Damn impressive," he nods and looks right to Beth. "You looking for a job?"
She almost blurts out "no" but she catches herself before she can. The money she has won't last forever and eventually, she will have to live somewhere and work somewhere and it seems like working at the Tree Top Café is as good a place as any.
The café is owned by Theodore Douglas though everyone calls him T-Dog and the waitress is Sasha and she helps Beth find a blue and white uniform in the back that fits.
"We used to be able to wear jeans but there was a waitress here who kind of took that to the extreme, holes in very strategic places," Sasha said. "T had to put his foot down but the uniforms aren't that bad."
"You start tomorrow night," T-Dog tells her and she's nervous but excited and she leaves the diner to head back to the motel so she can call Maggie.
Maybe if Maggie finds out they're still in the same state, she will feel a little better. Beth can even promise her that she can occasionally visit.
Oscar is still working the desk when she comes in and she places a Styrofoam container down in front of him. "Chocolate chip pancakes. I'm stuffed," she says.
Beth considers it a triumph when she gets Oscar to smile.
She has gotten a few groceries at the single grocery store in town and the bag is swinging back and forth at her side when she comes upon the motel to find a police car in the parking lot, the blue and red lights flashing. Axel is standing just outside his office and one of the officers is handcuffing one man while the other officer is speaking to another man a few feet away.
Axel spots her. "Beth!" He waves her over.
It seems like everyone looks at her at the same time and her eyes sweep across them all, her eyes lingering on the man not being handcuffed at the moment. He has shaggy dark hair and a scruffy face and he wears jeans with a hole in the knee and a flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off. She can't help but look at his arm muscles. Good god, she never considered herself a girl into muscles but that man had the hottest arms she had ever seen.
And then, as if she thinks he can read her thoughts, she ducks her head down and hurries to go stand beside Axel, her face feeling hot.
"What's going on?" She asks him, handing him the pear he asked her to get him.
"If you plan on stayin' in Evergreen, those are two you should know about. Merle Dixon," he points to the man in handcuffs now being tossed into the back of the cop car as he screams every curse word in the English language. "And his younger brother, Daryl," he points to the other man standing in the parking lot and Beth's eyes float over to the man again.
She nearly gasps when she sees him staring at her already and she quickly drops her eyes, feeling a fluttering in her stomach. Daryl Dixon. She says his name to herself as if wanting to test it on her tongue.
She lifts her eyes again and is relieved to find him no longer looking at her, instead looking back to the police officer, the two engaged in a rather intense conversation – or rather, the officer seems to be doing all of the talking and it seems like Daryl is only giving the occasional answer, his eyes drifting back and forth to his brother still screaming from the cop car and back to the officer.
"I take it they're bad news?" She asks, turning her head towards Axel.
"The worst," Axel nods before taking a bite of his pear.
The worst. Beth repeats that to herself. The worst. She keeps looking at him and sees the police officer clap a hand on his back in not at all a harsh way. It seems almost friendly. If Daryl Dixon really is the worst, why did that officer seem to be so friendly with him? The worst. No. Not Daryl. She doesn't even know him and yet, she had gotten a look at his eyes as she passed. She never doubts a person's eyes.
And Daryl Dixon has the most intense and beautiful blue eyes she has ever seen.
Thank you for reading and please review!