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Sanctuary at the Bottom of Flo's Endless Cup of Joe

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The gravitas of her new situation didn't hit until she sat in a booth at Flo's twenty four hour diner, where she clutched a cup of coffee and slowly unraveled.

Her neck was stiff from sleeping in the passenger seat of the Chevy, the back seat occupied by her haphazard stack of boxed belongings and broken office mementos. A strip of duct tape covered a tear in the booth's seat and there was a stubborn spot of stickiness from artificial syrup that remained after a harried busboy wiped down the table, but the coffee was hot and the refills were free. The appeal of Flo's was a cheap meal, and a decent sized parking lot open to loitering. It was a common customer practice to sober up in Flo's lot before the hungover drive home, or for a recently homeless chick to catch a few restless hours of sleep without a cop knocking on her window.

Kay still mourned the loss of her pho as the waitress came round and refilled her cup. There was enough spare change in the Chevy's cup holders to pay for Flo's bottomless coffee and a dollar side of hash browns. She contemplated how many cups of coffee she could drink before her nervous system sizzled out. This was refill number four. Her leg jigged under the table as she poured in three spoonfuls of sugar.

He dumped her over Facebook.

Kay slapped the spoon down with enough force to rattle her cup. A furious blush heated her cheeks as her waitress slowed at her table.

The other woman glanced Kay over from beneath her mascara caked lashes and shook her head. "Here's your check." She set the paper print-side down and tapped a tiger striped nail on the plastic tabletop. "This place won't pick up til 'round noon. Stay as long as you need, you got that hon?"

Kay raised her mug with a slightly shaky hand. "I keep drinking, you keep filling right?"

"Nurse this one, unless you want to pee for a week," said the waitress. Her name tag read 'Daphne'. Kay wished she had enough change to leave her a better tip.

"Thanks Daphne," she said.

Daphne nodded and pushed a limp hank of strawberry blond hair out of her face. "You need anything, call me over."

Kay needed a lot of things, but not something she wanted to burden her waitress with, yet. She needed more coffee for that. Maybe with Kahlua.

 The events of yesterday spiraled through her thoughts as she stirred in the creamer. None of it felt real. It was as if at some point between her arrival at work and when she brought Mr. Silverstein a cup of salty coffee, her reality went off the rails. Probably the moment Becky proposed the prank while the interns huddled in the break room. Kay could picture the mental divergence of her day, another meeting that bored her to tears where Mr. Silverstein leaned a little too close to explain the conversation as if she were a first year student rather than a pre-law graduate. She would try hard not to react to the mix of coffee and cigarillos on his breath and ignore Becky's occasional barbs. She would get home close to seven, depending on traffic, and her key would work in the door. Matt typically ordered out and sometimes, he saved her some, though usually she scourged on her own. She'd pour herself a glass of wine and go find her boyfriend to snuggle on the couch watching some show or other he chose, until the wine kicked in and she staggered off to bed.

"Damn, my life was boring as hell," muttered Kay. Tiresome routine aside, the factor in all this she couldn't wrap her head around was Matt. What possessed him to do this to her? What signs did she miss? She sipped her coffee as she mentally laid the contents of a three year relationship out to examine.

He was supportive enough of her career choices, at least she thought he was. The fuzzy recollection of her final couple semesters at college in a sleep deprived, Red Bull fueled haze possibly left her with shiny hindsight. When she stopped and really thought about it, there were little things, too insignificant to attribute red flags, or what seemed like sage advice at the time. Like her desire to take a pottery class as an elective that he said was too messy and he didn't want to risk clay mixing in with his laundry, or when he told her to wait until after law school when she wanted to use her graduation gift money to visit Italy. Or how he made her park her Chevy closer to the street, behind his pristine Lexus, even though she only left earlier than he did so she could move the car.

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