143 Cents (Short Story)

Welcome to the fist Loremaster post! I am SUPER jazzed about this new stuff I’m putting out. I don’t want to take up your time and make you read some big huge thing, so I’ll put all of the following information at the bottom. Here is the first of many.

143 Cents.


 

at furlongs cover

 

I wore sadness that day, not the kind of sadness I thought I understood, either. I knew she’d leave, but I didn’t understand what leaving really meant. Like going to light a cigarette and realizing after years of the habit, I don’t smoke anymore.

Right as she walked away from me I reached for my breast pocket to find my pack and found nothing within. Just a pen and a handful of loose change that jingled around, not where it should be. Just like her.

I’d always loved that habit, secretly. When she found loose change around the restaurant she would pluck it from its sullen loneliness and slip it into her shoe. She came to me hundreds of times if not more to shake her foot and guess how much she collected that day.

“Thirty-seven cents!” She exclaimed on our first work day.

“What?”

“I think there are thirty-seven cents in my shoe. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. Forty-two?”

She slipped her sneaker off and looked inside to count.

“Damn, thirty-nine. You win, you were closer.”

That wasn’t our first meeting, she was at orientation laughing and giggling with the rest of us as our boss made joke after joke. He stressed the importance that we were to be a team on shift.

I came from a team that fell to pieces the spring before. A family at another restaurant that I thought I would never replace, and I was right. I didn’t. I felt magic at that place, back home. It was my first month in Iowa and I just happened to find a place that might replace what I missed. Maxxi Furlong’s. The place opened a month after I arrived and I secured a job by the grace of the forces that be. I couldn’t even fuel up my van on my first day. That’s where I found her. Sitting at the crowded tables surrounded by the other’s I’d get to know along the way. Funny how sometimes, you just find things.

We began our working relationship shortly after.

I fell for a girl in the restaurant after I started, but a few months later she plucked my heart out of my chest and smashed it into the ground. I watched it compress beneath her shoes and pop on the hardwood flooring. The next day the morning crew left a note telling me to leave my messes outside of the restaurant.

When I was young my mother always told me about this empathy I had, a way to feel emotions I didn’t truly feel. I took what others gave me. I developed that feeling through music and through art. Through cooking food. When I learned how to pour drinks and could legally, I became a bartender. I picked up a habit early on, I would fill a tumbler with alcohol with closed eyes and if the liquor met the mark without spilling the customer owed me thirty-one cents. I don’t know why I picked thirty-one, I just did. Maybe three dimes and a penny was the right amount of change to keep on hand.

It’s funny to me that I didn’t carry that practice into my second restaurant job. Five years I played that game, but it was silly. I wanted to be something different after moving, to mature and grow up a bit. I didn’t have time for silly things, but she did.

One day she helped me clean up this stain on our floor left by another bartender, I didn’t realize what was happening until she bumped into me, standing in the bar mopping while I took inventory. She was years younger than me and shouldn’t have been there, but had this kind of knowledge and joy that I couldn’t grasp, I so desperately wanted to.

“You know that one of the servers is stealing your tips right?”

This old wooden tip jar sat on the bar with a tacky sign taped to the front about tipping our “local artist.” Something my boss put up when he found out I won an award with one of my albums.

“What are you talking about?”

“The tip jar, she’s taking money out before you and she’s keeping it.”

The soles of her shoes jingled as she stepped from side to side, scrubbing the mark with joyful passion. She cleaned it up and we both went about our business, catching glances at one another for the rest of the day.

After that, every day when she would come in she would check the tip jar for me. If she found any money inside of it she would run up and give it to me.

“Just, you know, to be sure you get it.” She had a quaint smile that spread across her face when she did something kind. She smiled often.

We quickly became close friends. Our shifts always matched. She would check the tip jar and say hello. Drop money off to me if she found some and then ask me about my day. I replied the same way each time.

“Better than yesterday. Something good happened today.”

She cocked her head like she never knew what to say next.

“What do you mean?

“Something good is bound to happen, right?”

 

Continue Reading…

143 Cents

 


 

So, as you may have noticed, I’ve left you a link for the continuation of the story. I’m still testing some things on my side of the site regarding short stories, this is a new venture and I want to make it easy for everyone who reads, and I’ve begun using Wattpad as a method for releasing my short stories publicly to be sure that I can have my whole list categorized and ready for my readers. I’ll be releasing quite a bit through the Loremaster series.

That being said, Loremaster isn’t likely going to work like Talking Floorboards and the Friday piece. I have a lot of short stories that I want to share, and many of them will be coming at various times, Loremaster will have a catalog of stories and I’ll be releasing them as I finish them/as they fit into the universe/etc. So expect bonus releases every so often on the blog, I’ll be publishing a guaranteed piece every Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, but you may see more on the off days until I’ve gotten more out with the Soul Project.

Things may change a bit, I am working to try and make it as easy for you to read everything I write as possible, so bear with me while I get the kinks sorted out.

In the meantime, when you’re all finished here… make sure you follow my social media pages to stay current on new content and projects and such. all the links can be found in my footer.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed what I’ve left you.

-AT

Life is not meant to be awful.

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