This was my donation piece for...something. I can't keep them straight anymore.
It will be short...probably four or five bigger (in Kitkat world) chapters and then done.
Updates will be...whenever I can get them done.
"Hey…back up right here under the loader. It shouldn't take long and then you can haul this load over to the other site," the foreman barked from the ground. I could barely see him from behind the seat of my eighteen ton dump truck.
I looked over at the location the foreman had motioned to and took a deep breath as I shifted the truck into gear and slowly made my way over to the spot beneath the frontend loader.
I needed this to go well.
This was my last chance.
"Nice job, kid. You managed to make it through your first day without killing anyone," Sam joked as he slapped me on the back. It took all my strength to keep from falling forward with the force of his blow. My hand grabbed tightly to the brim of my hat, making sure it stayed on. I looked up at Sam, who ran the loader that had dumped the dirt into the bed of my truck all day. His face was deeply lined, showing the years of hard labor he had struggled beneath as he tried to support his family.
People like him were the reason I was doing this.
"Yeah…I tried," I rasped, keeping my voice low as I shuffled away toward my car. The day was over and I was trying to make it home before I collapsed. Who knew driving a dump truck could be so exhausting?
I turned, stifling a sigh, as I watched the foreman head my way.
"Yeah, boss?" I grunted, keeping the brim of my hat angled down.
"Just wanted to tell you I was impressed with your skills today. Most of my new drivers give me shit when I show them the terrain, but you handled it like a pro. Keep it up and you'll be off the shit runs and be able to have the cake jobs soon," he said, reaching down and slapping my ass…hard. I bit my lip to keep from squealing when his palm made contact with my poor, unprotected cheeks. I nodded and turned away, only wincing slightly as I sat down in my car.
The drive home was eerily quiet after having spent all day atop a diesel engine, but I welcomed the silence.
Pulling into the driveway, I debated trying to hide from him…but I knew he would have heard the car. Sighing as I realized he was going to have to find out someday, I grabbed my shit from the backseat and walked up the sagging steps.
"That you?" he called as I slammed the door shut.
"Who the hell else would it be?" I yelled as I bent over to untie my boots. I heard the rhythmic click of the wheelchair as he propelled himself down the hall toward me, having to stop several times to get over the broken floorboard and warped linoleum. The house was falling apart around us and I knew my father would be appalled to see what had become of his pride and joy. When he finally managed to maneuver through the doorway, I stood up slowly, allowing him to look at me before I pulled the hat off my head.
As the short ends of my hair brushed along my cheekbones, he gasped.
"What the fuck did you do?" His hand reached out toward me, as if hoping my appearance was an illusion.
"I did what I had to do, Charlie. If we didn't keep the insurance up, we would have been screwed. So I used your resume and license to get a job. Feel free to say thank you any time," I bit out, unable to stop the tears from forming.
"But your hair…" he trailed off, dropping his eyes to his useless legs as they rested against the chair.
"My hair will grow back, Charlie. If we didn't get some money coming in, then there was no telling what would happen. We would lose the house and I really don't think we would be able to find an apartment that is as accessible as this place." I knelt down next to his chair, putting my hand over his where it lay on his lap.
"I just can't believe that it has come to this," he whispered, his voice hoarse as he tried to speak through his tears.
"We can get through this, Charlie. I know we can. Once you are back on your feet…" I started, but he shoved me away, furiously pushing his wheelchair back down the hall.
"This is it, Bella. I'm not going to walk again. So if you're waiting for that…you better start praying for a miracle."
I washed my hands at the kitchen sink, ignoring the oppressive silence that originated from my brooding brother as he sat next to the table. Dinner consisted of some soup heated in the microwave and a pair of Hot Pockets. Our mother would have been rolling over in her grave if she saw the kind of food that was being served up at her table. But money was tight and I needed to have things on hand that Charlie could make if I wasn't around. The microwave was the only thing he could operate with harming himself…or others.
"Where did you learn to drive the big rig?" Charlie asked after I had the dishes cleaned and put away. His hands were folded on top of the table and he was actually looking me in the eyes. Realizing that he had somehow managed to put aside his anger at the situation, I sat back down and told him about the crash course his best friend Jake had given me.
"So you just walked in there with my credentials and they gave you a job?" he asked, amazed that I had managed to pull it off.
"They were hard up for a driver. And your resume was excellent. I managed to fudge the birthday on your license, because I knew I wouldn't be able to pass for thirty six, but other than that it was easy," I explained.
And then he just stared at me.
"I can't believe it has come to this," he said quietly. When I opened my mouth to speak, he just pushed away from the table and disappeared into his room.
And then I was alone.
"What the fuck! If you wanted me to drop the load there, you should have moved the fucking loader!" I yelled out the window of my cab as the douche on the ground bitched.
"Why would I want the gravel over here?" he spat, hopping up onto the step of the truck so he was face to face with me. I tugged the hat lower and tipped my chin up toward him.
"I go where I'm told to go. It isn't my fault you weren't ready for me," I growled, leaning over the wheel of the truck so I looked bigger than I was.
"Whatever…I'm not taking the blame for this. You'll have to go talk to the boss," he said as he jumped down and landed with a thud on the hard-packed ground. I sighed as I turned off my truck and kicked open the door. It was a good thing the foreman liked me, since it looked like I was going to have to do some ass kissing.
"It was Swan that dumped the load." I cursed under my breath as I approached the group of men as they stood staring at the six ton pile of gravel.
"Yep…it was me. Anyone have a shovel?" I joked as I pulled my hat low over my eyes.
"You new here, Swan?"
I turned and looked at the tall guy on my right. The sun was right behind him and even with the bill of my hat and my hand shading my eyes, I couldn't really see his face.
"Yep, I started last week."
"And so far he has done a great job," my direct supervisor said as he smacked me on the back. I grit my teeth as I wobbled on my feet.
"Well, seeing as Alec is impressed with you, we'll let this slide. But you need to pay more attention to the site. If you don't think you should be dumping a load…don't dump it," the tall guy spoke again and I just nodded, no doubt looking like a bobble head. I booked it back to my rig and got outta there before I fucked up something else.
I looked down at my feet, letting the hot water beat down on my shoulders. The water turned brown as it rinsed the dirt and grime off my arms and out of my hair. Even with a bandana and hat covering my head, I somehow still managed to get dirty. I worked quickly, trying not to use too much hot water, since I now knew how expensive electricity was. The towels were scratchy against my skin as I dried off, but fabric softener was pricey and not a necessity.
When I was done, I leaned against the sink and looked at myself in the fogged-up mirror. If I squinted I could pretend that my hair was still long. That the waves and curls my mom had always loved to brush were still down to my hips. But it wasn't. The ends of my hair barely reached my chin now.
And as I tugged and pulled on it, trying desperately to hold onto me, I wept.
"Are you kidding me? I thought the insurance was going to pay for a new chair? So now we need to come up with four grand? Okay…no, I got you. Thanks for your help," I said tightly, hanging up the phone and tossing it in the seat next to me. I was waiting in line for the truck in front of me to finish filling up, before I would drive into its place. I had hoped I would be able to deal with a mix-up with the insurance, but low and behold, there was no mix up.
I knew I couldn't get any more hours here, but we wouldn't be able to swing the mortgage and other bills if I had to pay four thousand for Charlie's new chair.
Something had to give.
"Hi, welcome to Triplets Diner. What can I get for you today?"
I was to the point where I could say those words in my sleep. Waitressing wouldn't pay the bills by itself, but combined with what I made driving the big rig, we would be able to get through this rough patch in one piece…
"Yeah, can I get a cup of coffee and a slice of that sweet peach pie you got going on?" the customer smirked as he reached down and pinched my ass through the polyester of my uniform. I smiled tightly and tried to remember that murder was against the law as I turned and walked over to the counter.
"You'll get used to it," Jessica, the other waitress working with me said as she handed me the coffee pot.
God I hope not.
"Swan! What the fuck? Are you asleep at the wheel? The loader has been waiting ten minutes for you to get your truck under it. MOVE!" I jumped as Alec, my supervisor banged his fist on the door of my truck and quickly shifted into gear. I had been asleep. I was working seven to three driving the truck and then worked four to eleven at the diner. I was dead on my feet and had barely made a dent in the bills.
And I didn't know how much longer I could go on.
Overtime was awesome in the abstract, but when you're busting your ass to get from one job to the other…that is when you realize it blows.
I was huddled in the back seat of my car, struggling to get into my uniform in the small space. I had parked in the back corner of site, away from the lights of the road. I ran a baby wipe down my arms, praying that I got all the dust that seemed to cling to me. I was just pulling my extra-small sports bra off over my head when I was suddenly blinded by lights. In my wild scramble to cover myself, I got my arms stuck in the tight band of the compression garment.
"Shit," I squealed.
"Are you okay in there?"
I finally managed to get myself out of the straps and yanked my uniform over my chest.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry…I…um…spilled something on my shirt and was trying to change. I'm sorry if I'm not supposed to be back here," I mumbled, trying to hide my work shirt and hat on the off chance that Mr. Flashlight was someone I worked with.
"Um, yeah you're really not supposed to be back here," he said as he angled the light away from my face. I bit my lip as his face came into focus.
"Sorry," I whispered again, trying not to stare at the thick blond scruff that covered his jaw.
"It's no big deal. But it can be dangerous in a construction site at night. Make sure you stay on the access road on your way out…okay?" he said, his voice so kind and smooth.
"Oh I'll be sure to be careful," I said as he waved and walked off into the darkness.
With a deep breath, I finished getting ready and raced to my next job.
"Bella, you're staying late since you were late coming in, right?"
"Yes, Maria. I can stay until two if you need me," I sighed, kissing my sleep goodbye. There was no way I would be able to feel rested after only four hours.
My feet dragged, the thick rubber of my sneakers squeaking against the linoleum. I wanted to cry. I wanted to sleep for days. But as the bell chimed over the door signaling another customer had arrived, I had to push my wants to the side and just concentrate on what we needed.
And that was money.
"Are you going to be able to take me to my doctor's appointment today?" Charlie mumbled behind me as I stood at the kitchen counter. I had my face buried in my coffee cup, willing the caffeine to somehow keep me awake.
"How the hell am I going to get there, Bella?" he bitched as he stopped the chair next to me.
"Listen, I'll go into work and just…get sick or something. Then I'll come back home and take you. I'm sorry I forgot, but I'm trying to juggle a million things," I sighed as I tried to move around him, but he rolled the chair in my path.
"Do you think I like seeing you walk around here like you're half dead? But there's nothing I can do! Don't take it out on me," he said softly. I blinked down at him, sure that I had misheard him.
"I'm taking it out on you? How is that even possible? I'm twenty years old, Charlie! I'm working two jobs, taking care of the house, of you, and you have the balls to say that I'm taking shit out on you?" I pushed him away before I smacked him, and stormed out of the house.
"Can you take one more load to the back dumping site before you head out, Swan?" Sam asked and I couldn't say no. Plus I wasn't really looking forward to going home anyway. I hadn't been able to get out of work to take Charlie to his appointment and he had to call one of his buddies to come get him. He hated being a burden to other people, but he didn't think twice about relying on me for every little thing.
"Sure, Sam." He waved me off and I headed up over the hill. My hands were numb from the vibrations of the engine and I kept blinking to try and stay awake.
Only a few hours at the diner and then I could sleep.
"Bella…someone just sat in your section. I can take him if you want," Jess volunteered as she stood behind me at the coffee station. I rolled my eyes, knowing that the only reason Jess would 'volunteer' to take a customer off my hand was if he was drop dead gorgeous.
"No, I got it." I took a deep breath before I pushed through the swinging half-doors. The guy sitting in the booth near the door was familiar, in that Hollywood famous kinda way. My palms were damp as I stood next to his table and waited for him to look up. When he did meet my eyes, I wished he hadn't.
He was spectacular.
His long lashes hid just enough of his green eyes to make him seem mysterious. High cheekbones and a straight nose led to full, pouty lips and perfect teeth. When he reached up and tugged off his hat, I nearly moaned. It should be illegal for hair to look that good after being trapped inside a sweaty baseball cap…but his did.
"Can I get you someone…er…something?" I stuttered, flushing bright red. He had the decency to ignore my slip of the tongue and placed an order large enough for five people. After delivering the ticket to Armondo, the chef, I took my time getting his soda.
Chill out Bella. He's just a guy. You work with guys all day long.
My pep talk didn't help much when I went back to the table to find that he had stretched his hands out on the table. Big hands…capable hands.
"Hey, you look familiar. Have I seen you somewhere before?" he asked, reaching out to grab my wrist with one of those rough but smooth hands.
"Um…I don't think so," I replied, my voice slightly hoarse. He cocked his head to the side as he looked at me, and I was suddenly nervous. I glanced over to his hat that was sitting on the table and blanched.
Oh my God.
"I'll bring your food right out," I said, yanking my hand from his grasp and nearly running toward the kitchen. I managed to avoid him for the rest of his meal, only stopping by once to refill his coke and to get him some ketchup for his eggs. When I dropped off the check, he once again tried to bait me into a conversation, but thankfully a large party had just been seated in my section and I was able to get away.
My eyes blurred with tears when I saw a phone number on the back of his check and the twenty he had left as a tip. I pocketed the one and tossed the other in the trash.
"Swan! The head guy wants to see you in the trailer!"
I cut the engine of my truck and jumped out of the cab, suddenly nervous. Other than the one time I dumped the load in the wrong spot, I thought things had been going well. I showed up on time, got my work done and left.
Walking into the small trailer, I somehow managed to stifle my squeak of surprise when I saw who was sitting behind the desk.
The man from the diner.
He didn't look up as I entered, only pointed to a chair in front of his messy desk.
My knees trembled as I slowly sat down in the seat and folded my hands together in my lap.
"So…Charlie Swan? My father mentioned he had worked with a man named Swan six years ago and how impressed he had been with his skills. You would understand how confused I was when I told him that I had a young guy here who was using Charlie's credentials."
He finally looked up and I could tell he recognized me. My eyes stung as I pulled my hat off and tugged the bandana from my hair.
"I'm sorry. My brother was in an accident and is in a wheelchair and our parents are dead and I had to keep his insurance up and…" I rambled, mortified by the hot tears that streamed down my cheeks, but unable to stop them. When I met his eyes I could see his confusion and wondered what he didn't understand.
"Wait, you said your brother was in an accident?" he asked and I nodded. "But from what my dad said, Charlie Swan is your father."
Wha? So yeah...see you soon!