by LARA JADE
I woke up to sunlight practically blinding me. I groaned as I stretched and inhaled deeply before my eyes popped open. I looked at the empty side of the bed next to me and cursed to myself. How could I have been so stupid? Revealing my feelings like that and actually expecting Tom to be here in the morning. I laughed at how naïve I was as I began collecting my clothing. I got almost all my clothes on, I was just missing my shirt…
“On the microwave.”
I turned to see Tom with a bag and two coffee cups in a drink carrier.
“I told Rosemary you wouldn’t be in today,” he added as I took my shirt from the microwave and slid it back on.
“Thanks,” I replied as he handed me a coffee.
“Were you leaving?” he asked.
“I thought you did.”
“Just to pick up some food,” he responded. I looked him over and noticed he wore a suit today.
“Where are you going after this?”
“To work. I go back home to Kansas tomorrow morning,” he added.
“Here,” Tom said and handed me a card. “That’s my work, home, and cell number.”
“You’re just gonna leave?” I asked.
“I kinda have to, sweetheart. I’m not getting paid to bed you.”
“But…” I sat there not entirely sure what I was getting at.
by LARA JADE
One Month Later
Rosemary looked up at the clock when I walked in.
“A little late?” she smirked.
“Yeah, sorry,” I sighed as I rushed around the counter to put on my apron.
“That’s alright. I have something for you,” she said. I tied my apron around my waist and looked up to see a white envelope with silver lettering. “I’m getting married,” she smiled.
“That’s great!” I replied. I hugged her and pulled away at the sound of the bell above the door. When I turned around it was a younger couple. I had not seen Tom since the night he walked me home from the bar. I didn’t think no longer seeing him would bother me. However, I realized everywhere I went I would look for him. Sam was beginning to notice, I’m sure. He hasn’t said anything, but he gives me an uncertain look when I scan every room I walk into. I wiped off the counter in front of me when the bell rang again. I looked up and saw Sam smile and tuck some of his chocolate brown hair behind his ear.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hi, I didn’t want to wake you when I left this morning,” I said pouring him a mug of coffee.
“I wish you did,” he responded. His eyes scanned over the diner, then out the window before his attention returned to me.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Me? Yeah. Um…” he began and took a sip of his coffee. “That guy isn’t here?” he asked.
“He hasn’t shown up since the day I told him Jaz wasn’t single,” Rosemary interjected as she dropped off an order at the kitchen window behind me.
by LARA JADE
I sat at the bar counter and rolled silverware into napkins.
“So, you and Sammy see that movie last night?” Rosemary asked.
“Nope,” I responded and couldn’t help but smirk.
“Instead?” she pushed.
“Called it!” she gushed.
“How was it?”
“Stop!” I groaned as the bell rang over the door. I paused and turned my head to see my reoccurring stalker. He sat in the booth as usual and looked at Rosemary.
“I’m taken. Your turn,” I smirked but spoke quietly.
“Fine. Suit yourself,” Rosemary shrugged and walked herself over. “Hi, I’m Rose. What can I get you?” I heard her ask him kindly. I peeked over to see he looked from her to me. I turned away and began placing the utensils I wrapped into a plastic bin.
“Um… why isn’t she taking my order?” he asked. My heart nearly fluttered at how sad he sounded.
“She had a rough night. Poor girl-,” I heard Rosemary begin. I grabbed the bin and walked over to them.
“The usual?” I asked him making sure to stop Rosemary from saying any more.
“Yep. Thanks, sweetheart,” He smiled. Rosemary frowned at me and followed as I entered the kitchen. I put away the bin and washed my hands.
“Jaz, you’re not mad. Are you?”
by ANJALEIGH HART
I was never quite sure
How to tell my family
That I was slowly dying
Because I would rather
How do you go about
Something as tragic as
Death, do you sit them
Down and explain that
You are leaving them
And you do not know when
Or do you ignore the
Inevitable truth until
The reaper is standing
Before you, with an
Waiting for you to take
And leave forever
The world laughed
At me, as I stood in
My place, like a statue
But soon to be a memorial
For a girl who was too scared
And too scarred to accept
Destiny or fate or punishment
Whatever the reason
How do I tell them that
One day I will be here
But maybe not the next
How do I face the people
That have been there by
My side, all my life, that
I can no longer stay and
Forever is coming to an
End rather quickly
I breathe and count the breaths
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
But I never reached ten.
by ANJALEIGH HART
I’ll bite my tongue
I’ll hold my breath
I’ll keep the words in
I’ll do it all, until I can’t
I’ll hold myself back
I’ll keep a tight grip
I’ll clench my teeth
I’ll do it all, until I won’t
I’ll keep it all in
I’ll hold on to sanity
I’ll swallow my pride
I’ll do it all, until I don’t
Open mouth slightly.
I’ll let it all out
I’ll hold back no more
I’ll keep nothing in
I’ll do it all, cause I can
Show no more mercy.
by Lara Jade
“Morning Mr. Martin!” I said and smiled at one of our daily customers. He sat up at the bar counter with his brown, tan, and blue plaid Gatsby cap atop his nearly bald head. A pair of trifocals shielded his blue eyes. Rosemary had our new employee, Daya, follow her and showed her around the diner. I was cleaning off the back booth when I heard a loud engine outside. I felt the familiar chill run through me. I looked up to see the familiar black car from last night. It was a 1963 Pontiac GTO. The mystery man climbed out and entered the diner. I noticed Rosemary look my way when she noticed who it was.
“Jazzy, your regular is here,” she called. The man had a sly smirk plastered on his face as he walked up to me, taking a seat in the same booth yesterday. The bulb still flickering.
“Wow, freshly cleaned. I’m honored,” he said and smiled at me. I watched him as he removed his jacket revealing a nice button up and tie.
“Breakfast?” I asked.
“Yeah. Could I get the eggs, bacon, and pancake deal I heard your co-worker mention?”
“Sure. Orange juice?”
“Be right out,” I replied and jotted his order on a pad, passing the paper to Jason. Once again, the man watched me. Even when people entered or left his eyes stayed on me. Until…
“Jaz.” I looked up to see Sam.
“Hey!” I smiled. Sam looked around and automatically noticed the man, but the man already had his eyes on Sam.
“Uh, coffee please,” Sam shrugged the mystery man’s glare off and sat down in front of me. I turned and grabbed the coffee pot as Sam slid the mugs we had sitting out already across the counter to me.
“On me,” I said pouring it.
“No. Don’t worry about it,” Sam shrugged and took a small sip.
“Whatever. Why are you here?” I asked setting the pot back down and propping my elbow on the counter, my hand holding up my chin.
“Well, I wanted to know I if should… expect you home tonight,” he said obviously trying to make sure I was on the same page as him.
“Of course. I’m off early today,” I replied.
“Wanna catch a movie?”
“What’re you thinking?”
“Mission Impossible: Hellbound,”
“Oh yeah! Tom Cruise any day,”
“I know,” he smirked and took another sip. He watched my eyes and as I looked into his they reminded me of why I liked him so much. He finished his drink and reached his hand across the counter to hold mine. “I’ll see you at home?”
“Okay,” I smiled and undoubtedly blushed a bit. Sam leaned across the counter and pressed a kiss to my forehead. I couldn’t help but smile ten times as big as I typically would have. He left, and I noticed the man narrowing his eyes in on Sam as he walked to his car. I took the man his receipt, and he looked me over.
“Boyfriend?” he asked. There was something about his voice that made me want to roll my eyes into the back of my head.
“N-no… yes…” I replied. He looked up at me and furrowed his eyebrows.
“You sure?” he smirked.
“No,” I said and took his dishes. Like the last time, he appeared at the register before I spun around. Daya beat me to the register, and the man rolled his eyes. As Daya counted his change, he threw his head back.
“Could you possibly count any slower?”
“Excuse you!” I snapped at him.
“Sorry. I didn’t know it took snapping at someone to get your attention,” he remarked. “Sorry dear, have a nice day,” He said to Daya before spinning around to leave.
“Told you to go after him. What? Are you back with Sam”?” Rosemary asked standing next to me.
“I thought that boy was old news?” Mr. Martin asked.
For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that a mystery man followed me home. I tell them everything, but for some reason, this was harder.
“He’s just been on my mind,” I shrugged.
“You two were together for eight years… that’s a long time,”
“When you’re young that does seem like a long time. Try thirty-five years,” Mr. Martin scoffed.
“That’s wonderful,” I smiled at him before grabbing a squirt bottle and rag from under the counter. I walked over to the back booth for the second time today and sprayed it down. I looked out the window to see him, again, sitting in his car.
I got off and walked out to my car. I wound up getting busy the rest of the day and didn’t have a chance to check and see if his car was still outside the diner. I looked around the lot but didn’t see it. I sighed happily as I climbed in my car. I got halfway down the road when I noticed the Pontiac behind me. I pulled up outside Sam’s apartment and knocked on the door.
“C’mon in,” Sam smiled at me and looked off behind me to see the car. He shut the door behind me, and I turned to face him.
“I can take that drawing into the police station before we go. That’s a Pontiac too,” Sam offered while checking out the car.
“I think I’ll just talk to him about it tomorrow if he comes back to the diner,”
“You sure? He could get aggressive or pull a gun on you-,”
“He would’ve done it by now, Sam,” I sighed noticing the lack of his chastity ring on his finger. “Where’s your ring?” I asked.
“Oh…ah… don’t think I need it anymore,” He nodded almost as though he were trying to convince himself, not me.
“Who changed your mind?!” I smiled.
“Oh!” I practically gasped in shock. He looked away and smiled down at the floor.
“I didn’t want to try anything until after the movie, but I didn’t even know if you still wanted to be with me, or if this was just-,”
“I love you, Jazmine. Please,”
“God Sammy, I love you too,” I sighed feeling my heart ache for my best friend. He pulled me close and pecked my lips. That one kiss quickly escalated to a heated make-out session on the couch. I heard an engine roar by and Sam stopped and stood up. He walked over to the window and looked out.
“No one,” He said. I sat up and removed my shoes. “Go to my room. I’ll shut everything up.” Sam smiled at me. I nodded as he pecked my lips again and pulled the curtains shut.
by Lara Jade
“Have a nice day!” I said and smiled at an older couple as they left the diner. Her husband held an umbrella for her as they walked to their car. The old jukebox in the corner played, “Tag, You’re It” by Melanie Martinez. I loved having the new jukebox. A man in a brown leather jacket had held the door for the couple. My attention then turned to him as his boots clapped against the tile. A chill ran down my spine as I looked up at him. He made his way to a booth in the back, by himself. It just so figures that he chose the booth in the back in the darkest part of the diner; the bulb above his table flickering. I knew the bulb needed to be changed, but I forgot to remind anyone. He caught my attention for sure. Tall, at least six foot three, light brown hair that was lightly buzzed on the sides, the top a bit longer and styled with some gel. What really distracted me was his piercing green eyes that appeared to have a honey-tinted shine to them. It took me a moment to realize I only knew so because he was staring my way, intensely. I grabbed a notepad and pen before approaching him.
“Hi, I’m Jazmine-,”
“I see that.” His deep voice booming against the walls. It wasn’t loud, just gravelly.
“What can I get you?” I asked.
“Uh, a double bacon cheeseburger and a coke.” He shrugged.
“All right,” I replied. I jotted it down and ripped the paper off the pad, walking behind the counter and handing the slip to Jason, our head cook. I turned back to the guy, his eyes still plastered to me. My nerves were getting the better of me, causing my hands to shake. Another older man who was eating by himself approached me with his receipt, ready to pay. He handed me his payment, and I dropped the change he gave me.
“Sorry. I’ll get that.” I apologized, and the man nodded before leaving. I walked around the counter and felt that man I served still staring at me. I squatted to pick up the change and stood back up. When I spun around, he smirked at me as I passed. Rosemary, my manager, smiled at me when I approached her. She stood by the kitchen window where we retrieve the meals.
“What?” I asked.
“You’re getting eyed.”
“I feel it. Honestly, it’s extremely uncomfortable.”
“At least he’s attractive. I don’t dig the whole five o’clock shadow deal, but…”
“Go at him.”
“You first.” She smirked.
“Double?” I called back.
“Double,” Jason confirmed. I nodded and took the plate, making a quick stop at the soda machine. I filled a cup and returned to his table.
“There you are,” I said.
“Thank you. Glad you confirmed it was a double I would’ve been disappointed. And you don’t want to see me when I’m disappointed,” he stated. I noted his words and he seemed to gage my reaction, another smirk curling his plump pink lips into a smile as he dug into his meal.
After about twenty minutes, the man looked to be nearing the end of his meal. I walked his receipt over and he thanked me. He began to pull out his wallet while I took his dishes. I strolled into the kitchen to drop off his dishes and by the time I spun around, he was waiting at the register. Rosemary approached him, and his eyes scanned the kitchen before landing on me. While Rosemary communicated with him he hardly gave her a peek as he watched me clean off the counter. I refused to look back at him, though I could feel his eyes burning into me, making my face flush.
“Have a good night,” she said to him. I looked up at him, he completely ignored her and waved to me.
“Bye.” He said and walked out.
“Go get him!” Rosemary squealed as the door swung shut. I watched him through the window of the diner as he climbed in a black car.
“No, he was just passing by I’m sure,” I said and shrugged my shoulders.
He sat there for at least ten minutes. The end of my shift was coming up, so I began sweeping across the diner Rosemary came up and hit my arm.
“You can go,” he said. I nodded, finished sweeping around the last table, and took off my apron. The rain falling did not help the eerie feeling washing through my body as I strolled to my car. I climbed in and started the engine, driving off.
Once I turned down my street, I noticed the car behind me turned as well. My heart pace quickened when I realized it was the man from the diner. I knew where I could go. I continued down the street and even pulled down a few others just to see if he really was following me.
Finally, I arrived at his front door.
“Sammy, hey,” I said and smiled.
“What’re you doing here?”
“A car followed me, please let me in. Don’t look around, just let me in.”
“Okay,” he said and moved aside. I walked in and he locked the door behind me. I sat at his kitchen table, head in my hands.
“What’d he look like? I can draw him and take it to the police?” he asked.
“I don’t know… is that a good idea?”
“How about I draw him while his image is fresh in your mind, and we see if he follows you tomorrow?” Sam asked. I nodded and described the man, only to hear a chuckle come from his lips about ten minutes later.
“Is he this good looking? And you ran away?” Sam joked.
“Not funny Sammy.”
“You’re still calling me Sammy?” he asked quirking his eyebrow. I looked shyly at the floor and got up, pacing the living room.
“You’ll always be my Sammy,” I responded quietly.
“Why did you dump me again? You never really explained that to me. And I think I deserve an explanation since you decided I was your safe house,” he said. I could tell he hasn’t been with anyone recently. No woman would be able to tolerate the beer bottles scattered on the coffee table, the bags of open potato chips and the three blankets he keeps on the couch. I always pulled two of them off me because he gives off heat like a grizzly. The kitchen was a mess too, mostly with take-out containers and pizza boxes. However, I’m sure the few kitchen dishes he actually owned were in the sink as well.
“We were getting too serious… it scared me. Sam, we were together since sixth grade. I never even got to date another guy.”
“Have you? You know, been with anyone since?” he asked, his innocent chocolate brown eyes round in curiosity.
“Not trying to be a pain, but that’s either, a sign this guy should be given a shot or that we still have a chance.”
“Sam. Not now. I’m tired and honestly… I’m scared.” I said. He stood up from the kitchen table and joined me in the middle of the living room, pulling me to his chest.
“My room or do you want to stay in the guest room?”
To be continued in part two...
by MACKENZI RICKMAN
Collage created to encapture the architecture of Tiffin University's landmarks and Buildings.
by SHYANNE BROOKS
There once was a night,
chilling to my spine
I awoke on a road
Where was I?
Trees surrounding each bleak side
And mist diluted the starry sky
Did I walk here? It’s a dream right?
I began to walk. Maybe I could find a sign
After hours I slowly realized
Not one car has passed my side
And the road has no end in sight
Is this all just in my mind?
The mist seems to thicken
So that I could cut it with a knife
And a slight drizzle soon began
Why can’t I remember where I am?
Suddenly I began to fear
Were those whispers at my ear?
A chuckling laugh meant to scare
Checking behind me I see no one, nowhere
The wind is all I seem hear
I keep walking and say I’m fine
Never wavering from that fine white line
Footsteps behind me soon began
A solid thump, and then a drag
Thump, draaag, thump, draaag
Was that a man following behind?
I quickly look to see what I’ll find
But not one thing obscured my sight
Except for the mist of this wretched night
I could feel him watching from the trees
His presence made me weak at the knees
I turn back and continue to walk
I promised myself I would not stop
I’ll find a sign and I’ll be fine
Soon to be home, my lover and I
Then I heard his blood curdling voice
“I see that you have come to play”
I begin to jog and loudly say
“Sorry but, I can not stay”
“Has my dear child lost their way”
“No!” I desperately try to say
“Yes, the child lost their way”
A second voice decided to say
My heart was beating out of my chest
I was full out running at my best
The voices seemed to be just as fast
Finally I found relief, I could see the bend
Almost in reach
If I can just reach it, this will end
Or that’s what I told myself in my head
My lungs were bursting
I could see the bend
Almost there I continuously said
Then the first voice sounded again
“Silly child, I’m in your head”
I stopped dead
“In my head?”
“Yes.” The first chilling voice said
Catching my breath
I heard it again
Thump, draaag, thump, draaag
And another noise joined the others
A chain I think, with many others
Slowly in a circle I began to turn
The feeling of eyes began to burn
The steps are coming from all around
They really are an awful sound
Completing my turn, facing the bend
I came face to face with the one called him
His face grotesque and his eyes empty
“You’ve come to play with me I see”
I screamed for help as this monster bit me
I never made it to the bend
That night I met my untimely end
by SHYANNE BROOKS
I never asked to be given to the world
But it seems I’m the one to pay
With burdens I don’t deserve
And years filled with pain
Debts more than the years I’ve seen
Time spent managing worldly things
Expectations and laws for us all
I can never rest for fear of the fall
I never asked to be involved
Why can’t these problems be resolved
I placed my faith in a simple dream
But I find it’s more complex than it seemed