Starting a new work week after over a week of no Diner… I felt like I was starting all over, and had to settle in… again… And, a new year even… As I pulled my new twine tight that morning, I found myself wanting to laugh at the thought that “maybe it would change this year.” I doubted it. And I had been away from the Diner, and that day to day food service zombie stuff, but I was already feeling so absolutely drained… Maybe I was right to cry myself to sleep last night. I cried most of the day yesterday too, and already felt… My vacation had not helped me much. I survived it, probably thanks to Kacey’s journal idea, well my zombie food service worker journal that nobody else will ever even want to read… But, I already felt like a zombie, and I hadn’t even left the house. That feeling didn’t go away as I walked to work. Maybe it just got a little worse.

I tried to get to work a little early. I was pretty sure I had done all the cleaning I needed to do last, uhm, a week ago friday. As I unlocked the door and went inside… Well, it was freezing inside the Diner… The monster master of fire heater had quit at some point. At least I could sit to the side of this one. And it didn’t take long to remember how to light it. And it didn’t belch fire out three feet like last time. But I knew it would be a while before it was even a little warm in the Diner. All I could do was apologize, which I had to do a lot. I smiled as I did that, but inside… I was just shoving that all away…

The lunch rush hit, and hit hard. I think Edna’s feeling… This little restaurant did seem like a hangout place for many in this small town. It felt like they had missed that part of their lives, even though it was cold until the middle of the afternoon, when the sun through the windows helped out the heater. Well, I was working up a sweat during the lunch rush. I didn’t have time to stop, so I stayed, well, not freezing cold… The kitchen was warm, the grill took care of that. And I thanked the cook for the yummy burgers. That was the only food I had to eat, well except for when I was at Delores’ house. But it was basically back to work.

But evidently, from hearing parts of many different conversations… The boy that died in the wreck near my house… He was drunk, and he was known to have a drinking problem. The townspeople weren’t too surprised at that. But the girl with him… She was, well would probably have been the valedictorian, whatever that was. It sounded important. But she didn’t drink. Friends said she was just being kind to go for a drive in his new car. There was no relationship or anything. Both were gone now. I cried with a bunch of the other ladies. This was just sad. And, as I looked over at the two mangled shiny things that used to be for serving beer… Yes, Edna was right about that. It was clear that the town was reeling over that whole thing. I doubted it would change anything though.

At least I didn’t have to fight through unloading the delivery truck that day. The cook had ordered ahead, and we were in good shape. Dinner rush was subdued. There were a lot of people but they were mostly locals. Maybe as a town, we were all just cried out. I got everyone fed with only a few mess-ups. But the pain all around me, maybe that made my pain easier to deal with. Maybe it didn’t matter so much in the face of this tragedy.

A little early, I had finished my cleaning, and the cook and I left at around the same time. “Welcome back, Maude” he said with a smile, then he headed off into town to his house. I couldn’t smile. Other’s pain was the only thing that kept me from feeling mine. Just something else to shove away. I did feel bad for the townspeople though. I thought that life at the high school would be hard for a while. But again, I didn’t think it would change anything…

Get on clean clothes, run a load of laundry, even though it was freezing on my back porch, throw myself in bed… Fall asleep at some point.

Welcome back, Maude…

Tuesday and wednesday are usually our slow days. But they felt exactly like the thursday, friday and saturday that followed. Maybe the locals just saved everything up, and needed to be here, I don’t know. Day by day, table by table… I did my zombie food service worker thing, and kept the townspeople fed, and as comfortable as possible during the winter, like Edna wanted. I kept reminding myself about that, Edna wanting me to do this. It seemed to help just a little less each time…

Well, Kacey said I could put anything in here, and certainly no one else would even want to read this stuff… Wednesday night, I woke up cold, in the middle of the night. All my blankets had fallen off, I realized that right away. But I wasn’t freezing cold for some reason. Opening my eyes, I saw… white… It wasn’t snow, it looked like… It felt like my… me… my nose? I tried to move my… white… nose, to look at my arms, which were now pointing straight off the couch… I… What? Afraid to even look any more, I closed my eyes tightly, and just tried to go back to sleep. It was the middle of the night, and so I quickly did. But I did wake up later and grab my blankets off the floor, and I got warm again. Wow, my dreams are wierd sometimes, especially when they don’t feel like dreams…

I survived my first week back at the Diner, well the first week of the new year. And, walking home that saturday night, I realized… I had not seen a single salesmoron at all that week. I… That just seemed so unfair. Well, I told myself that, at least I didn’t need to deal with them, for once. I was hoping this little piece of good news would help me avoid… I cried anyway.

And that sunday, I did go for a walk again in the morning, like Edna and I used to do, but in the freezing cold. Well, it was short because it was so cold. And, it didn’t help. I still felt so burned out by the end of the day… And I knew I would have to start another week at the Diner tomorrow (monday).

I don’t know how Edna survived before I came… But then, I wasn’t sure how I would survive either…


1. Maude: Beginnings is copyright 2017 by Shysage.




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