Chapter 1: World Spins Madly On
I hurry to the back of Stan’s Diner, where I work as a waitress, to get my coat on. I’m already leaving late thanks to Arlene never showing up on time like she’s supposed to. I swear she must have the most unhealthy, irresponsible children on the planet. While I’m zipping up my coat the busboy, Eric, comes back with his dirty bucket of water from mopping the floors.
“Hi, Eric,” I smile at him, and it seems to startle the guy.
He doesn’t respond, but that’s nothing new. I’ve been waiting tables here since I was sixteen, so for almost ten years now. Eric started working here about four years ago, and in all that time I think I may have heard him speak twice. Neither time were his words directed at me.
“Well, have a good night,” I say to him anyway.
He lifts his eyes for just a moment to nod, and then he goes back to staring at the floor. He’s a strange one, that Eric, but about as worrisome as a spring rain. Rumors have gone around about him. Eric isn’t originally from around here, but then neither am I. My father got transferred up here for work when I was nine so I moved with him and my brother.
Mom left when I was two. She just couldn’t handle the responsibility of being a mother, I guess. I’ve seen her a handful of times in my twenty-five years but I wouldn’t call us close. Dad remarried when I was twelve, and even though I wasn’t crazy about Pam in the beginning, she’s grown on me. She’s really the only mother figure I’ve ever known.
I hustle out the back door of the diner and haul ass toward home. Alcide, the guy I’ve been seeing the last two months, is picking me up in a little more than an hour. He got tickets for a Bears game, and I haven’t been to a football game in a long time. I’m more of a baseball fan, personally, but I can learn to like football if it’s important to Alcide.
He’s a great guy who comes from a good family and has a good job. He’s good looking, smart, hardworking, well mannered and straight. There’s no ex-wife or baby mama drama to deal with. He’s damn near a unicorn.
By the time I finally get to my block I’m in a dead run toward the house. It’s the last week of November and there’s already snow on the ground. We got our first blanket of the cursed stuff before Halloween and just three days before that it had been in the seventies outside. It’s ridiculous; it’s also typical Chicago weather.
Inside the house, my brother is sprawled out on the couch watching ESPN while Pam is putting up her tacky ass fake white tree. Generally speaking, Pam has good taste. I don’t share her sense of style, but that’s okay. What I will never be on board with is the hideous white tree she parks in our living room every December.
I breeze right past them and run up the stairs.
“Sookie, your shoes are wet!” Pam calls out like I don’t already know.
“I’m in a hurry!” I yell back since I can state the obvious too, and then slam the bathroom door behind me.
I strip out of my dirty uniform and do a quick wash up in the sink so I don’t stink too much like the diner. The whole time I’m cursing Arlene for being late. I swear it’s like she knows when I need to leave on time, if not early, and does her damnedest to make sure it doesn’t happen.
When I’m as clean as I can get without taking a shower I go to my room to change clothes. Already I have a tidy, neatly wrapped pile of Christmas presents for Alcide stacked up by my dresser.
I put on fresh underwear and a better bra than the one I wore to work, and then grab a pair of boot cut jeans and a series of shirts to layer on. In Chicago during the winter, layering is essential if you want to be outside, and it’s even colder by the lake. Back in Louisiana, where I’m originally from, the term ‘lake effect’ doesn’t exist.
I put on my jeans and two of the three layers I’m planning to wear in top, and then sit at my vanity to touch up my makeup. I’m just spraying on perfume when Alcide honks his horn outside.
“Shit,” I mutter, and run around my room to get my fleece sweater on, and grab my coat and purse.
Pam is stringing red lights on her eye sore of a tree, and Jason is still watching TV when I come downstairs. I leave without saying goodbye and run out to Alcide’s truck.
As soon as I open the door I’m greeted with the familiar scent of sawdust mixed with his cologne, and I climb up into the cab with him. He smiles at me, but when I lean over to kiss him hello there’s no kiss back. Something isn’t right.
“Are you okay?” I ask him.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he says, but makes no move to put the truck in gear.
There’s something off in those emerald green eyes of his, and in less than three seconds I know what’s coming. I’ve seen this look before. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.
“Aren’t we going to the game?” I ask anyway just on the chance that I’m wrong.
“Actually,” he starts and my heart sinks. “I was thinking maybe we’d go another time.”
Uh huh. Like when hell freezes over, right?
“If that’s what you want,” I say nervously. I know there’s more coming. “We could just go to dinner if you want.”
“Actually,” he starts again and I know the ending isn’t one I’m going to like. “I was thinking maybe we should take a step back. You know, maybe see other people for a while.”
Yep, there it is. Next thing you know he’ll be saying it’s not my fault, that I didn’t do anything wrong.
“But I don’t want to see other people,” I tell him, my eyes welling up. I’m not in love with Alcide, but I’m definitely in serious like with him.
“I just think we’re moving too fast.”
“Okay, so we’ll slow it down,” I offer.
Then it hits me.
“There’s already someone else, isn’t there?” I ask.
The look in his eyes says it all. He’s found someone else.
“What is wrong with me?” I mutter to myself.
The only thing every guy I’ve ever dated has in common is that they’ve all dumped me. Now it looks like Alcide gets to join that club.
“Sookie, you’re great, really,” he starts, but I don’t want to hear the rest.
“If I’m so great then why are you dumping me?” I ask and open the truck door.
Alcide doesn’t try to stop me so I know it’s really over. I slam the truck door and go back inside the house.
Another one bites the dust.