Eva enjoyed the heat that the tequila created as it traveled down her throat and
into her stomach. She stopped listening to the music that flowed through the crowded bar
and looked down at her left hand. Her thoughts swirled around and she wondered what it
could all mean. She paid for her drinks and then stumbled around until she found
the door. The thick, humid air hit her face as she stepped out into the world. Somewhere
in the depths of the night, Eva had lost herself to the golden liquid.
The afternoon sunlight found it’s way through the blinds and took her dream
away. She went through her everyday rituals in a daze, half asleep and half hung over. As
the coffee brewed, Eva noticed that the little red light on her answering machine was
blinking. She had three new messages and none were from Dean.
The reds and oranges of the afternoon sky made her feel pathetic. The air seemed
to weigh on her being as she walked to the 50’s theme diner where she worked.
Her palm pressed against the cold glass as she pushed the door open. The soft
whispers of the other waitresses stopped when they saw her. The smell of grease and the
sound of classic oldies made her head hurt, though she quickly adjusted.
The diner, with its bright pink neon lights, was slow that night. She hummed as she
folded napkins around the so-called silver wear.
Eva looked up from her restaurant origami when she heard an elderly couple walk
in and sit at one of her assigned booths. She watched them as they held hands and
whispered to each other. She felt a bit of envy as she took their orders.
The image of the elderly couple and their happiness lingered in her mind for the
rest of the night. She wondered if love held the same expectations for her.
Her shift ended and since her body ached for rest she decided to go home. Eva
extended her slender arm out into the air and vied for the attention of a cab driver. She
didn’t wait long before a taxicab came her way. She gave the driver her address with a
tired sigh. She watched the mixture of buildings and houses as he drove past them. The
cab stopped at a red light and her eyes focused on something that she never believed
could really exist. There, amongst normality, stood a house with a white picket fence
around it’s simple perfections. All of her life she had lived in that town and never before
had she seen such a sight. “A sign,” she thought, “of matrimony, family, and the
American dream.” She smiled when the light turned green and the taxi carried her away.
She walked into her apartment with images of white picket fences, elderly
couples, and eternity crashing around in her head. Eva made herself a cup of tea and she
started to think about what was destined to be. As her thoughts continued to question her
life, there was a knock on the door. Dean, with his dark brown eyes and his childish
smile, stood underneath the dim light of the hallway.
He sat down on her sofa, put his feet up on the coffee table, and told her about his
day. Eva forced herself to seem involved in their conversation as it settled into boredom.
She was delighted when they eventually stopped talking.
She laid, tense and rigid, next to him that night. As the fleeting sensation of sleep
escaped her, she thought about all the future nights that she would spend with him and
she assumed that it would never change.
In the morning, Dean awoke to find that she was no longer by his side. He
found her sitting on the sofa waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
She thought if he noticed the emptiness in her eyes then maybe he would know
the secret she had been hiding. She wasn’t surprised when he kissed her good-bye
without saying a word.
Eva called in to work and claimed a twenty-four hour sickness. She took out a
bottle of tequila that she had hidden in her bedroom and sat down on the floor. As she
tilted her head back and swallowed the thick liquid, she thought about the alcohol
induced dream that her life had become. The hours went by in a slow wave and she
started to feel the dull sadness that came with drinking alone. Eva continued to drink her
sensibility away as the night drifted by.
The headache that she often experienced was slowly lifting. As she stirred
the non-dairy creamer into her coffee she decided to go to work that afternoon. Her
clothes were a bit wrinkled but she didn’t care. Eva tied her long dark hair back into a
ponytail. She was ready to go through one more day in diner hell.
She watched as the sun sank into the earth and the stars slowly became brighter.
She was lost in her thoughts when Lana, the head waitress, harshly directed her toward
the mop. “Soon,” she thought, “It will be over.” As she filled the big yellow
bucket with warm water and disinfectant she noticed that there were people still sitting at
a table. Eva looked up from her chore and saw that it was the elderly couple from the
night before. She tried not to think about what their age meant to her, as she finished
mopping the floor.
Eva picked up a newspaper on her way home. She rarely ever read the daily
paper. There was something about the pale discoloration of the photographs that made
her feel like she was looking at something dead, but on that night she felt like reading
about the world and all of its gloom.
She made herself a cup of hot jasmine tea and then sat down with the thick
newspaper. The front page had, in small print, a three-sentence summary beside the cover
story that immediately caught her attention. She quickly turned to the correct page and
stared at the photograph.
The picture was of a small house that had bright yellow tape around it with
the words POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS printed in large black letters across the
center. The story was about a man who was killing young women in their homes. It was
short with few details, but it did mention where the last murder occurred. Eva recognized
the street name and an uneasy feeling came over her as she realized that the crime scene
was only a few blocks away.
She went through her day with a careless ease. Eva kept her thoughts away from
the story in the newspaper and the fear that it had created inside of her. As her thoughts
continued to spiral down she decided that she would not be alone that night.
She called Dean to ask for his company after she finished her shift. His
voice sounded soft and almost sweet to her ear as he made the usual excuses. She hung
up the phone and returned to work with her usual feeling of disappointment.
Eva listened to the jazzy bit of blues music that for some reason was playing at
the bar. The thin drunk man that enjoyed dry martinis and spoke of modern art seemed
like a dull choice to her. As she ordered another drink she noticed a man with dark hair
and a gentleman’s smile standing next to her. “My name is Franklin”, he said to her in a
pleasant German accent, “but you can call me Lin.”
They spoke of several interests that they shared, especially the joys of drinking on
a weekday. She had not realized it, but time had somehow passed her by. Without much
of a goodbye she left Lin’s side and went home with a longing for human warmth.
Eva walked into her dark apartment as she tried to push the remaining impression
of Lin’s smile out of her mind.
Dean’s message on her machine was short and his apologies were always the same.
As the days died one by one, Eva felt that the small pieces of love that
Dean offered to her paled in comparison to her memories. She tried every day that
slipped away to forget the possible meaning of one night. She prepared herself for the
daily pain of work and life.
Eva entered the diner with the same air of disillusionment that floated around her
on a daily basis. The other waitresses looked at her as if the misery in her eyes gave them
some sort of satisfaction.
As she cleaned the tabletops she heard the little bell that was attached to the door
ring. Her attention remained on the soapy streaks that were left behind on the surface by
the moist dishrag until she heard the words “chicken fried steak” spoken in a deep
German accent. She looked up and saw Lin sitting alone in a nearby booth. Eva left the
dish rag on the table that she had been cleaning and without a second thought she sat
down in front of him. They spent a few minutes just staring into each other’s eyes,
silently remembering something that should have been forgotten.
With a smile, she took his hand and led him straight to her apartment.
Eva hid in the bathroom hoping that the light wouldn’t wake him. She thought
about what she was going to say to Lin in the morning. The light started to shiver within
its glass shell. As she watched it shake, her long slender finger moved towards it. She
could feel its heat prick her flesh, but she touched it anyway. The light disappeared into
the night leaving her in a familiar darkness.
She always woke up early when there was someone else in her bed. She thought
about making coffee but her stomach ached with the acidic uneasiness of guilt.
With a simple silence Lin awoke and began to gather his thoughts along with his
clothes. He mumbled a farewell and then walked away from her without looking back.
Eva knew that whatever had once been meant to be was now over. She sat down on her
sofa and turned on the TV. The morning news was on and she wished that sleep would
take her again.
“In local news, a sixty-eight year old woman killed her husband of fifty-two years
late last night,” the news reporter said casually, “ Mrs. Parker had discovered evidence
that linked her husband to the rape and deaths of several young women that lived in the
area. Upon her discovery she confronted her husband and then stabbed him seven times
in the chest with a large kitchen knife. The police found a cardboard box that contained
several pieces of clothing and jewelry that belonged to the rape victims. Mrs. Hope \
Parker confessed once police arrived on the scene.”
Eva froze when she saw that it was the same elderly woman that she had seen at
the diner with her loving elderly husband. As the picture of Mrs. Parker lingered on the
screen, Eva realized what forever truly meant. All the illusions of love and life died
inside of her. As Hope’s face turned into the five-day weather forecast, Eva pulled the
ring off of her finger. She wasn’t the marrying kind after all.