The mornings always came too quickly. Of all the inanimate objects in the world, there was none so evil as the alarm clock. It woke her out of a dream that morning of walking hand in hand with a tall handsome man on a long stretch of white beach. In her dream the sights and sounds had been so real that as her eyes opened she thought she caught a scent of sea air.
In reality, however, the scent was stale beer and marijuana smoke that had saturated the old wallpaper of her bedroom. Nic moved stealthily out of the bed to not wake Matt and headed to the bathroom down the hall. Sitting on the toilet relieving herself, the aches began in her feet and calves reminding her she would again be abusing them soon.
The hot shower helped the majority of the ache, but flared the pain in her cheek a bit. There would be a bruise and there would be stares like always. But like always, no one would mention it. Karen and Jess had long ago stopped asking or offering advice, and Raymond, the head cook, had never cared or at least had never seemed to notice.
Once out Nic rubbed her towel over the mirror to clear the steam and gazed in it to check how bad the bruise would be, already reaching for the make-up to try to cover it.
There was no bruise! The area where the elbow hit her face was not red, bruised, or swollen! She smiled sardonically, thinking maybe her skin had grown immune. Strange though it was, she pushed it from her mind and went to adding some make-up to her cheeks and eyes before combing her hair back into the stubby ponytail, pulling on her size 12 jeans, then looking around for one of the two bras she owned.
She found one on the night table but when she tried to put it on, it felt loose around her chest and the cups tight over her breasts. The clock told her there was no time to worry about stupid things like her bra not fitting right for the first time since buying it, so she pulled on the red polo with Herbie’s Diner embroidered on the back, and stuck her name pin over her heart. Matt began to stir as she sat on the bed to pull on her sneakers making Nic work faster at heading out the door. She thought about how many other women were so miserable at home that a greasy spoon and rude customers were an oasis, and giggled herself out of the door.
The only stop she made on the way was under a bridge at the edge of town. No one used this road much except for two old farmers that had some cattle out here. She pulled the truck off and got out with the baggie of food in her hand as she had every day since making her discovery a month before.
That day, she had got out of work early and had dreaded the thought of going home, so took a drive with the radio up. As she drove over the bridge she heard something and stopped. Beneath the bridge she found a mother dog and two tiny pups. The only way the dog could have gotten way out here was some jerk, tired of it and not wanting the puppies, dropped it off. More than anything she wanted to take the animals home and care for them, as she had all of her life, but she would not dare bring an animal around Matt. She knew he would treat her animal as he had treated her, and she would never forgive herself if she let that happen to another living creature. So she left for work early every day since to make the trip to feed the little brown mama and her pups.
The mother dog came out and, though still skittish with Nic and keeping her distance, did wag her tail in greeting. Nic jumped down into the tiny gulch and pulled out the old hubcap that served at the dog’s bowl, emptying the kibble into it. The mother dog waited until Nic backed away, and then went to feasting. As she ate Nic took her chance to catch a peak at the pups. One brown like the mama and the other as black as night.
Not wanting to make her nervous, Nic left with a wave to the mama and headed back towards town, feeling good for the first time that day.
In the diner she sat at the counter after grabbing a donut from the display and read the local paper. Raymond came in with a swagger soon after, followed by Karen. They had been dating for a few months and Raymond had yet to come in without a new hickey on his neck. Raymond was one of those guys who was never without a woman following him. He was good looking for a redneck, face with just the right amount of stubble, and muscled just enough to not look like a meth head in his thinness. Hair long and grease free despite his job, and somehow always smelling like Stetson.
|Dominic Zamprogna||as Kevin Scavinelli|
|Asli Tandogan||as Nicollette Stavros|
|Tom Hardy||as Sebastian Thomas|
|Julie Bowen||as Karen Brock|
|James Patrick Stuart||as Oliver Tudor|
|Jennifer Rhodes||as Berta Collins|