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
by SHYANNE BROOKS
I’m still working on the person that I am
Still picking up my pieces
I mean, damn
Why can’t someone see my masterpiece
Instead of pulling apart everything I am
Why so much pressure
Like, “Excuse me ma’am”
But I just don’t care
I’m just trying to be who I am
And Sir, just sit down
It’s just too bad you don’t understand
I’m still trying to just make me who I need to be
And no, my name's not Abraham
So I can’t say I won’t ever tell a lie
But I’m so far from Uncle Sam
Sometimes I’ll mess up
But I’ll find my monogram
and that’s just another piece of me
Sorry, there is no training program
For loving myself and
Finding out who I am
So I’ll keep living my crazy life
I’ll keep being who I am
by SHYANNE BROOKS
“No!” I scream at the unwavering swarm
I’m tired of society telling me what is enough
What if I want to be something more
So what if my life might be a little rough
That is my choice and consequences to endure
The world isn’t always gruff
And their actions almost never pure
Why should society tell me which dreams to snuff
why should the world tell me my cure
How to be beautiful in my own skin and don’t scruff
To be beautiful in the world's eyes they adjure
Why should society become my judge
by SHYANNE BROOKS
Mirror, mirror on the wall
You always say too dumb, too small
And then you say too smart, too tall
I cut it off and paste it on
All to change what you look on
Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Stop making me feel so small
I put on my mask to help it all
Only in hopes to change the call
Of my evil mirror on the wall
by SHYANNE BROOKS
I’m tired of fighting
Can we please make it end
This anger is blinding
Exhausting, it is
The aggression is biting
I just want a friend
I can’t take the timing
That I’m expected to spend
Why are we so uninviting
Why must we always defend
So today I will begin writing
A peace treaty shall impend
by SHYANNE BROOKS
I am the warrior
You are the war
I fight myself
Through all your hell
I prepare for battle
More and more
My mind is weak
My armor worn
I’ve spent many nights
Preparing for fights
On the battlefield
Long and hard
I lunge and thrust
With all my might
Maybe, just maybe
I can win this fight
It’s raining and cold
The condition is rough
This is getting old
But it makes me tough
I can’t comprehend
Why you’re doing this
I know things tend
To be bad enough
Please stop this stuff
This pain and torture
It’s all too much
End me now
I beg you war
As I lie bleeding
On my floor
I can’t fake it
I can't take it
As I reach for my gun
It’s all for you war
This is it
One single shot
I’m growing colder
I see you cry
though it’s not true
Sometimes I wish
I were you
All high and mighty
With many jewels
But then I remember
Your evil soul
The time has come
I must go
I’ll remember the face
Of my foe
For it was mine
I fought myself
On right and wrong
Now I see
The trumpets singing
A better song
Than metal ringing
All night long
I close my eyes
Take my last breath
In and out
I welcome death