The Fine Line

Three years ago, Max made the biggest mistake of his life. He left his one true love and has regretted it ever since. He had a perfectly good reason as to why he left and he kicked himself in the butt all the time when thinking about her. Three years have passed since Tory lost the one thing that was close to her. All he left was a note that said "I'm sorry" by her picture and that was it. She forced herself to go through life, hoping with every waking moment that he would return and when he does, he brings a huge burden with him. She finds out that his survival depends solely on her. Will she forgive him and save him, after he just comes back out of the blue? Or will she have him fend for himself? Find out in: The Fine Line

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2. Chapter One

Chapter One

 

            I lied in my bed absently staring at the white ceiling that hovered above me in my room.  The ceiling was as empty as I was; colorless, nameless and expressionless.  I might as well have been one.  It seemed to be mocking me, laughing at me, showing me how, unlike me, it had a purpose in people’s lives.  It kept everyone dry; it provided shelter, kept people warm, kept them cool….  Me on the other hand, I was wasted space.  I took up time and money while this ceiling above my head had perfectly earned its keep.

            I just lay there thinking about how stupid I was to have even stopped what I started.  I used to be good at what I did and then I had just stopped…in cold blood, in fear.  I didn’t know that my life could be worth anything; let alone anyone else’s.  Yet here I was, lying in my bed just waiting for the time to pass until my interview at one of the most un-prestigious places on earth.  I was wasting time, I knew, trying to get myself not to go…to back out of a job that I so badly needed.  But my body knew that I couldn’t do that so it reluctantly got up for me and I allowed it to, finally realizing that time wasn’t going to move any faster if I continued to lay in this oh-so-comfortable bed. 

            I decided to head to the bathroom to take a nice relaxing shower in order to wake me up because I knew that I couldn’t go to this interview feeling tired and out of my element, but I stopped when I reached the edge of my bed and started to think about my attitude.

I had to put some enthusiasm on my face and I had to stop wallowing in my own shame and guilt.  I knew that what I did in my last job was wrong but somehow I also knew that it was justified and it wasn’t worth me beating myself up.

I raked my hands through my hair to see how much work needed to be done to it and in doing so, I realized that my hair was tangled and in need of being brushed.  My hair was black and naturally wavy so from time to time it would get tangled and I had to painfully untangle it.  Once I was done, I walked over to my dresser, recalling what the interviewer said I should wear for my final interview with the manager of the restaurant; a pair of blue jeans and a black shirt.  So, I grabbed a pair of light blue skinny jeans and a black V-neck shirt and I put them on my bed along with my under clothes.

I went into the bathroom and grabbed my towel off the shelf and put it on the handle to the shower door and regulated the water, and then I went in.  When I was finished, I wrapped myself in my beige towel and washed my face and brushed my teeth, then flossed.  When I was done, I stepped out of the bathroom, wiped myself completely, applied my lotion and got dressed.  I waited for my waist-length hair to dry until it was damp and then I decided to straighten it. 

When I was done, I walked into the living room where I always left my keys on the coffee table and I walked out of my apartment, down the stairs and out the door.  The sun was shining, drying up the rain from last night’s showers.  It was perfect March weather but I decided to drive my silver Accord to the interview, instead of taking the train like I had planned last night. 

            It was about a twenty minute drive to the restaurant and I was about fifteen minutes early.  I made sure that my hair wasn’t a mess from having my hair down and I took in the look of the restaurant.  It had huge glass windows and brown wooden borders.  The windows had long blinds inside that were open so I could see people eating and enjoying their lunch.  On top, there were rails that went all the way around the roof and there were tables and some people sitting down up there enjoying a beer.  In the back, I knew since that’s where my first interview was held to make us feel comfortable, there was porch seating. 

            I locked my car and pulled open the door to the restaurant.  Behind the door, or in front of it rather depending on which way one was looking at it, there was the cash register.  I asked the woman there, whose name was Julia, where the manager’s office was and she put another lady, Cara, in charge.  Julia was in her fifties, I guessed, with auburn-dyed hair that came down to her shoulders, and forest green eyes.  She was my height, five feet, and seemed to be very cheerful.  Along the way, she asked about my life and how I had liked the restaurant and I told her that I was in my last year of college and that the restaurant was very nice and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.  I omitted the fact that I didn’t want to work anywhere else because I needed the money as soon as possible or else I’d be evicted from my apartment.

            Julia walked me up a flight of stairs that led to the manager’s office.  The staircase was behind the counter where people were able to order take out or eat a fast meal.  She knocked on the door and she let him know that I was there to see him and she came right out.  “He said you can go in, sweetie.”  She said to me.  “He’ll call me back when you’re done.” 

            “Thank you.”  I said to her and walked into his office.  I stood behind a blue clothed metal chair and looked around the office. His office looked more like a cabin with wood-panel walls, wood floors and a wooden desk that he sat behind.  On the walls, he had several papers that were stapled and read, “Grade A” in huge blue letters.  In the back of him, he had a twenty-nine by sixteen sized window.

            “Tory York?”  He asked with a thick Italian accent.  He was semi-bald with gray hair on the sides of his head that seemed to wrap around to the back of his head but I couldn’t be too sure since I couldn’t see the back of it.  He was clean shaven and a little on the heavy side but I didn’t judge.

             “Yes sir.”  I said, in a normal toned voice, with a smile.  “Good Afternoon.”  I wasn’t sure whether or not I should have sat but I thought it impolite to do that so I decided to wait for the invite. 

            “Please be seated.”  He smiled, extending his hand to show me the seat.  “Delighted to meet you.”  He kept his hand out for me to shake and I did.

            “Same here, sir.”  I said.

            “First things first.”  He began.  “Call me, Mister Trapoli or just Trapoli.  Sir is much too formal; we aren’t a five star restaurant.  Secondly, I see here”, he pointed to a place on my resume, “That you were fired for misconduct.  Now I called the place because they have quite the reputation for firing young women but I’d like to hear your side of the story.  For some reason, I just don’t buy their side.”  He finished, giving me the go ahead to answer his question.

            I wasn’t exactly sure where to begin and I knew that I had to be honest because I needed this job and could not be evicted from my apartment.  I quickly cleared my throat and in my normal tone, releasing all frustration in my mind, I told him what happened.  “I smacked my manager across his face and poured a strawberry milkshake on him in front of the customers.”  A tick started working in my jaw but I swallowed hard and after a minute I began to talk again, easing my anger.  “He slapped my ass when I bent down to pick up a fork that a child had dropped.  He then whispered in my ear that I had been ‘a bad girl for bending over’ in front of him.”  I realized that I put air quotes around what my previous manager said.  I never understood why on earth I did that.  “That’s when I stood up and smacked him.”

            “I imagine you sued?”  He asked.  “For him firing you wrongfully?”

            I nodded.  “Yes.”  I answered truthfully, a lot of my money went into getting a good lawyer and I lost.  The jury seemed to believe that I had no reason to bend down, that the parents could have done it themselves.”

            “You seem to handle yourself well.”  He told me.  “I like your honesty and independence and I take it that you need this job?”  He asked.

            “Yes, Mr. Trapoli, I do.”  I answered.

            “Why do you want to be a waitress?”

            “Everyone has to start somewhere and this is all that I know how to do.”  I told him.  “I’ve tried working in offices before but I never got hired for those jobs.  The only office jobs I’ve done, as you can see from my resume, were all internships given to me by my college but I switched my major now.”  I told him.  “I am in my last year of college and I am close to be evicted from my apartment.  Of course, I can always go to apply to more restaurants if I am not hired here.  I won’t lose my hope like that.”  I told him.

            “When can you start?”  He asked with a huge smile on his face.

            My eyes lit up.  I couldn’t believe what he was asking.  “Today.”  I told him, keeping myself composed..

            “Well then, let me call Julia back in here and she’ll show you around and then you can start.”  He said.  I stood up while he called her back in using the intercom. 

            I waited for her outside of his office, like he told me that I was allowed to do.  She walked me down the narrow hall to a closet that held aprons, yellow in color, which were folded and hung.  “The ones on the hangers are for the waitresses or waiters.”  She said.  “The ones that are folded are new.  We each get three.”   I took three and she handed me a permanent marker and I wrote my name on them in huge black letters, across the chest area.  “Alright, Tory.”  She said.  “Let’s show you around!”  I followed her back to the stairs and walked down them behind her.  “I forgot to ask you this before.”  She said.  “You’re name is just Tory?”

            “Yeah.”  I answered.  “I guess my parents were a bit stuck on the nickname.” 

            She laughed a light laugh and opened the door so that we could walk out of the staircase.  “To your right is the kitchen.”  She said.  “To your left, right here at the counter, is where all the drinks come from.  The pitchers are in the cabinets above and the cold water you can get from the refrigerators in the kitchen.  The water is in big blue bottles.  You can’t miss them.”  She took me into the kitchen anyway to show me them.  The ice was right below the water jugs.   “So now that you know that, let’s get you onto the floor.”  She said.  “Let me see what you’ve got.”

            We both saw an elderly couple enter the restaurant.  They sat down at the first booth on the right hand side of the restaurant.  Julia nodded at me when I looked at her in askance if I could serve them and, handing me two menus off of the counter that we were standing next to, she sent me over to the table and we both walked over.  They had to be in their early seventies and were in somewhat matching outfits.  The man had on navy blue dress pants and a short sleeved button down shirt while the woman had on a navy blue pleated skirt and a white blouse.  “Good Afternoon.”  I said, looking at both of them.  I handed them the menus and introduced myself.  “My name is Tory and I will be your waitress this afternoon.  Can I get you something to drink while you look at the menu?”  I asked.

            The man looked up at me and smiled.  “We’d like two glasses of water please, Tory.  Thank you.”  He said.

            “Coming right up.”  I said and turned on my heels to go to the kitchen and into the fridge where I found pitchers filled with water.  I took the pitcher with me back to the front counter where customers were sitting and eating, and poured the water into the glasses.  I put the pitcher back and brought the glasses over to the couple.  “Have you decided on a meal yet?”

            “Yes we have.”  The couple said simultaneously.  Julia handed me a pad and a pen and clicking the pen, I began to write.  “I’ll have a chicken parmesan meal.”  He said and when I looked down at him while he spoke, I realized that he had freckles on his wrinkled face and wore a pair of round glasses that had a string attached .  I assumed it was so he wouldn’t misplace the glasses. 

            Then the woman spoke and said, “I’ll have the baked ziti please and could we have chicken salads as our appetizers?” 

            “Sure can!”  I said, jotting it down.  “And to drink?”  I asked.

            “Two diet Sprites please.”  The man said. 

            I wrote that down and added my name and their table number to the slip of paper I wrote on.  “I’ll be back with your meal shortly.”  I said and took the menus from them.  On my way to the kitchen, I put the menus back in their stand and I then I put the slip on its reel for the cooks to get. 

            I had to wait about twenty minutes before their meal was done and then I brought it to them, along with their sodas and two glasses and two straws on the platter.  “Wow!”  Julia exclaimed.  “I am impressed!  I think you’re good to be on your own.”  She said.  “I’m going to clean some tables in the back.”  I nodded and began to clean some of the tables up front of the crumbs that were left behind from a previous waiter or waitress.  In my old job, we learned that that you’re never to leave crumbs on the table or the seats.  We had to make sure everything was clean.  Clearly that wasn’t a motto here or if it were, no one really paid any attention, but I would.   

            As I was in and out of serving people, I knew that I would love working here and it wasn’t just because I made seventy dollars on my first day, it was mainly because my co-workers were very nice to me and everyone got along with each other.  By the end of my shift, which ended at eight o’clock, I felt like I had been there for years instead of just one day.  Everybody was happy-go-lucky and I even met some regulars at the restaurant who were really nice.  I felt like I was at home. 

            When I got home, I turned on the living room light and set my keys on the coffee table in their bowl.  I took out the chop meat that I left in the fridge last night and took the two chunks that I flattened into burgers and put them in the frying pan.  When that was done, I used the same oil to cook a cup of French fries.  I put them all in a plate and went to sit down in my living room to watch my favorite Tuesday nine o’clock show.  After I was finished eating, I washed out my plate and my glass that I had soda in and I watched TV until I found my eyes growing heavy.

            As soon as that started to happen, I turned the TV off and walked to my room, turning night lights on along the way.  Once under my covers, I turned on the TV and turned off the lamp and watched TV until I felt myself dozing off. 

              At about three in the morning, I woke up to my phone ringing.  My first impulse was to turn over and not answer it all but when I saw that it was my friend Trish, I knew that I had to answer it.  “Hey.”  I said in a groggy voice.

            “Oh no, I woke you!”  She exclaimed.  “I’ll call you back later.”  She was about to hang up when I stopped her.

            “No!”  I said, sitting up in bed.  “I’m glad that you called.  How are you?”

            “I’m fine.”  She said.  “I’m so sorry that I woke you up.  I’m now getting in from work and I didn’t get a text from you.  I wanted to know if you got the job.”

            “Yeah, I did.”  I said.  “I’m sorry I didn’t text to you to let you know I got it, I got in at eight, ate dinner and watched a little bit of TV before I started to nod off.  I completely forgot that I had to call you.”

            “Not a problem.”  She assured me.  “Do you like it?”

            “Oh yeah.”  I said.  “The people are so friendly and sweet.  I feel like I’ve known them for ages instead of just one day.  I think that this job is just what I needed.” 

            “So do I!”  She said.  “I am glad that you went for it.”  I smiled and when she began to talk again I knew the real reason for her phone call.  “Meet any hot guys?”

            “Trish!”  I all but yelled in her ear.  “It’s three in the morning.  What kind of question is that.”

            “Oh c’mon Tory!”  She yelled.  “You need a guy in your life.”

            “I am perfectly fine without one.”  I told her, remembering my recent ex from like three years ago.

            “I saw Max today.”  She said. 

            My heart caught in my throat when I realized that was the real reason for her phone call.  “I don’t want to talk about him…”  I said, forcing my tears to stay inside.

            She became silent after I said that and waited a few moments before she spoke again.  “I’m sorry.”  She said.

            I shook it off.  “It’s okay.”  She said.  “It’s been three years, you’d think I’d be over it by now you know?” 

            “You think you’ll ever be okay?”  She asked.

            It took me a while to figure out the answer to that question.  No, I thought to myself, because every time I hear a motorcycle pass by the apartment, I rush to the window in the living room to look outside to see if it’s him.  Whenever I see someone who is six feet tall in jeans and a leather jacket on, I try to get close enough to see if it’s him.  “Eventually.”  I told her.  “Every day I get a little bit stronger than the last.  I’ll be fine.”  I knew that I was telling a bunch of lies and I wondered if Trish would catch them but I knew that even if she realized I was lying, she wouldn’t call me out on it. 

            “I’m sorry that I brought him up.”  She said, apologizing again. 

            “I know that you meant no harm by it.”  I told her.  “It’s really okay.  I didn’t mind.”  I paused and then swallowed my pride.  “Did you talk to him?”

            “No.”  She said.  “We just nodded at each other, accepting the appearance.  Nothing more than that.”  She told me.

            I was hoping if she could tell me whether or not he was okay because I knew and she knew that I wasn’t okay.  “Oh.”  I said.

            “You still think about him.”  She stated.

            I nodded my head although she couldn’t see and tears began streaming down my face.  “Yea.”  I said and I began to remember the days when we were together.  The days when I couldn’t wait to get out of class so that I could go riding with him on his motorcycle down to the piers where we would sit and talk for hours.  The days that turned into the nights with us just laying on my bed talking about nothing at all while he laughed at my stupid jokes.  The days where he would be in the apartment, waiting for me to come home, staring out the window.  Those were days when he had spent the night before and just didn’t want to leave.  I would let him stay so that I had someone to come home to.  Now, I was coming home to nothing and every part of me seemed empty, just like the apartment that I was living in. 

            “If I see him again—”

            I cut her off.  “Don’t.”  I told her.  “Then he’ll know that I’ve been hung up over him and I don’t need for him to know that.”

            “I understand.”  She said.  “I’m sorry that I brought it up.”

            “It’s okay.”  I tell her once more, forgiving her yet again.  “You should get some sleep.”

            “You should too.”  She said and we said our good nights and hung up. 

            I got up from my bed and turned on the lamp on the nightstand and opened the drawer.  I took out the old photo album and looked through it and began to cry really hard.  “Max!”  I yelled as loud as I could.

 

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