The Life as It Is
It's nine o'clock in the evening. This day was like any others. Customers came, ordered food, ate and left the diner. Dad was cooking and I was doing my job: serving, talking to some of our regular customers, mopping the floor and signing checks. This is all I do. Cleaning and serving is my destiny. Tommy didn't come today. Sean is still in the hospital and I had no time to see Mrs. Donnelly. There were too many clients today which were unusual for Thursdays. Nevertheless we coped with everything great as we usually do. I feel a little bit tired. I need to get the garbage out and to count the money. Father has already gone to sleep. It was a long day. Ok. Garbage.
Jenny took two big bags with litter and went to the back yard where the dustbin was. She was surprised to see a company of four kids at her back yard.
"Come on, redhead. It was a deal, you've lost. Don't dilly-dally!" one of the boys said.
"I'm not! There are too many buttons here." a girl's voice muttered.
"Maybe we can help?" the older boy smirked.
Who are they? What are they doing here? Is that a girl?.. Undressing?.. Jesus Christ!
"Who are you and what the hell are you doing here?" Jenny asked furiously, dropping the bags on the ground and rushing to the company. The older boy stood in front of the girl. She hid right behind his back. Two other boys were the twins. They also made a step forward to cover the girl. "Toby McLaughlin, Barry and Patrick Kelly, very nice!" Jenny recognized the boys. She seized one of them by the collar and pushed him aside. There was a girl. She was wearing a tank top and jeans. Her shirt and jacket were lying on the ground with her socks and boots. She was standing barefoot on the snow. Her marble skin was covered with goose pimples. It was snowing, so her beautiful, curly red hair was in snowflakes. The girl was shivering. "You, take your clothes and get inside! And you three are in a big trouble!" Jenny looked at three boys and the poor girl who gathered her clothes with shaky hands.
"It's not what you think!" Toby, the oldest of the company, said. "We had a bet and she'd lost it!"
"I don't give a damn what it was! But you're a great moron to make the girl undress when it's 15 below zero! What did you want to look at? She's too small to have anything you were dreaming about!" Jenny was really angry at three bastards standing in front of her.
"Hey, we didn't think anything like that!" the boy retorted.
"Sure! You asked her to take off her clothes just for fun! I tell everything your parents! Maybe they'll make you think before you do anything really stupid!" She turned and headed towards the entrance throwing the bags into the dustbin along the way.
She came in the diner. The girl was fighting desperately with the laces on her boots. Her fingers became stiff and she tried hard to make them work. Jenny approached her, kneeled and laced her boots. "What's your name?" she asked the kid.
"Thanks." The child said. "It doesn't matter. I'm leaving." She put on her jacket.
"You won't go anywhere until I you tell me your name and drink some hot tea because you look blue like ice." said Jenny standing up.
"Ice isn't blue. It's white." The girl muttered.
"Are you playing a smart one? I didn't see that few minutes ago when you were standing nearly naked, barefoot on the snow. Didn't your mom tell you that it's bad to undress in front of the boys." The woman poured tea into a cup, put some sugar and a slice of lemon and put the cup in front of the girl. "Drink it or you turn into an iceberg."
"Thanks." The child mumbled taking hot cup in her hands to warm them. Jenny put a plate with a piece of cake on the table.
"How old are you?" she asked looking at the girl.
"Eleven," the girl answered sipping the tea.
Jenny was staring at the girl trying to remember where she'd seen such red hair. She definitely saw it before. It was a woman. Oh, yes, it was the woman from the neighborhood. She came into the diner with different men once or twice, always drunk.
"Are you daughter of Kaitlin Parker?" She asked screwing up her eyes.
"What if so?"said the redhead indifferently.
Poor kid! Mom's a drunkard. No wonder that the girl wanders along the streets with boys and takes off her clothes in the yard.
"Why don't you eat the cake?"
"I'm not hungry." The girl answered.
"Did you eat anything today?"
"Yes, at school."
"It's half past nine already."She took a look at the girl. She was little and skinny and she was still shaking. Jenny made a sandwich with ham and cheese and gave it to the child.
"I said I'm not hungry."said the girl looking at the sandwich.
"Eat, please, don't be silly. Look at you nothing but skin and bones. I'm interested what were you doing at nine o'clock at the back yard with the boys?!"Jenny asked taking away several glasses and placing them on the shelf.
"It was a bet. Toby said that he'd steal a cake from the confectioner's shop at the corner of the Dawny Street. We made a deal. If he didn't do that he would dance five minutes in the snow in his boxers. If he succeeded I would do that." The child told taking a big bite of the sandwich.
"And whose smart idea was that?" Jenny smirked.
"Toby's." spoke the girl with her mouth full.
"If I see you once again taking off your clothes before boys I'll beat you black and blue. Do you understand?" Jenny warned the kid.
"Yes, clear as crystal."She said taking the last bite. After a few minutes she thanked Jenny and was ready to leave.
"Wait!" Jenny took her coat and put it on.
"I can go alone. I'm not a three year old." She frowned.
"I would not be so sure judging by your behavior." Jenny said sarcastically and let the girl past herself. "What's your name?"
"And yours?" the kid asked back.
"Is your mom at home?"
"Who knows?" She shook her tiny shoulders.
Jenny accompanied the kid to the house. She lived in the slums as everyone else here. This part of the district was the poorest one.
"Here is my house." Erin said stopping next to a dark, grey, multistoried building.
Jenny looked around and then at the kid: "Listen, maybe you'll come tomorrow after school and help me at the diner a little?"
"Sure." The child nodded.
"Till tomorrow then."
"Fine. Bye."The girl disappeared in the ugly building.
To be continued…