I drove along, pushing the radio buttons over and over. Frustrated, I flipped it off and impatiently tucked a strand of auburn hair behind one ear. I had been driving for days, with no clue where I was going. Thankfully, my family understood, helping me pack and wiping the tears from their eyes as I drove away. I hadn’t wanted to leave. My family meant the world to me, and Oakmont was a wonderful town, mostly. Brent’s face flashed into my mind then. Handsome, charming, deceitful, Brent. A cold shiver rippled through me, raising goose bumps on my bare skin. I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror. The bruise that encircled my right eye was almost gone. I smiled a relieved smile, and blinked away tears. I was going to start over, in a new place. It would be a new chance for me; a new life. No one knew where I was going; I didn’t even know myself. Upon Brent’s arrest, my family had promptly helped me pack, and gave me a disposable cell phone, which couldn’t be traced. I accepted it gratefully, and promised to call when I found a place to stay. I sighed. I had only been stopping to eat and sleep. I wished I had my GPS, but, that was too risky. A small alarm drew my attention to the dashboard instruments.
“Darn”, I muttered, seeing the blinking fuel indicator.
It was on empty. Luckily, an exit was coming up that had gas stations, so I pulled onto the off ramp. Standing at the pump, I could smell the enticing aromas coming form the pink building next door. The sign out front, proclaimed it, the “Pancake Palace”. I laughed at the name, but my stomach growled loudly in response. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten; the day before, at breakfast maybe? After filling the tank, I pulled into to the parking lot of the pink, Pancake Palace. It had white scalloped edging around the roof, and a stack of plastic pancakes with butter and syrup, twirled in circles on the roof. It looked like a Fisher Price toy. I smiled, amused, as I made my way to the door. The smell of bacon and fresh perked coffee, greeted me as I stepped inside. I spotted an empty booth in the back corner. Brent always liked booths. He liked their privacy, while being able to see what was going on all around him. I shook my head to dislodge the memory, and stepped up to the counter. Islid onto a stool and perused the menu. Moments later, a waitress appeared. She was wearing a faded pink uniform with a grey apron. Her carrot colored hair was pinned up in neat bun, and she wore too much red lipstick. She was probably younger than she looked, I surmised.
“Coffee”, the waitress asked, holding up a pot.
“Yes, decaf please”, I replied with a smile.
The waitress moved to the coffee maker, picking up the decaf and filling my cup, from the orange-lidded pot.
“What’ll ya have?” the waitress asked, her pen poised above the order pad.
“I’ll have the number three waffle meal”, I ordered.
“And how do you want your eggs?” the waitress asked, as she scribbled.
“Scrambled please”, I replied politely.
“Joe, number three, scrambled”, the waitress called out, turning toward the window in the kitchen, then making her way to another table of waiting customers.
As I waited, my mind drifted. I remembered the day I first met Brent. I had bumped into him at Java Jive, my favorite coffee shop. He had flashed a thousand watt smile at me, his twinkling blue eyes contrasting sharply with his dark, chocolate brown hair. I was entranced, smiling shyly as he introduced himself. An hour later, he had won me over. I shuddered. Instead of happiness, the memories washed over me in a wave of pain. The cook slapped his spatula on the order bell, startling me so severely, I almost fell off my stool.