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Women Who Stay, 2

The Diner

By Suze KayPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 3 min read

Chapter 1


We arranged to meet in person for the first time in early April. The rain was tremendous, drumming with long fingers against the windows of the Somerset Diner. A small trickle of water pooled on the chipped booth's edge. I watched it grow while I waited for Janie to arrive. When she was almost a half-an-hour late, the pool had become a puddle and I requested a new table from the sour-faced waitress.

"Naw," she said.

"But this one's wet. And, well..." I gestured at the empty tables surrounding us. She shrugged.

"Your coffee's already on the tab. It's a bitch to change in the system." I scoffed. Her eyes narrowed. "Could get you a towel for the leak. If you ask nice."

"Seriously?" I readied myself to bluster, but Janie blew in before I could get any further, stomping her galoshes and shaking an umbrella over the entry rug. She made a beeline to us.

"Oh, this horrible weather! What a dreadful day. I'll blame that for my appalling lateness, and not The Young and the Restless." She gave a shrill, girlish giggle. She turned to the waitress, who now smiled broadly. "Sheila, you're looking well. How're the kids?"

"Just fine, thanks for asking. You're eating with this one?" Janie nodded. "Then let's just change your table. This one's got a little leak. Sit where you like, I'll get you a mug." I stared dumbly after Sheila, shocked by her change in demeanor. Janie settled herself in a nearby booth.

As I gathered the things I'd already pulled out of my bag, I took a second to examine the elderly woman. I'd seen many pictures of her, but all were decades old. Most were pap shots from the funeral, where she looked pulled together but artfully undone -- black silk blouse untucked, blonde hair coiffed but windblown. If her eyebrows hadn't been perfectly drawn, and the barest smudge of kohl eyeliner visible at her waterline, she would have looked as though she'd put no thought into her appearance whatsoever. With a squalling toddler on her hip, she fit the bill of the betrayed, beleaguered mother, shell-shocked by the implosion of her perfect life.

She'd aged well, had remained trim and proper. She wore a tweed set, beige and pink, not designer but not shabby. Her hair was pin-set and clearly highlighted, but she'd chosen to keep some of her natural gray showing through. If that was an economical choice rather than aesthetic, I could not have said. I couldn't imagine, after reading about the financial ruin she'd inherited from her husband, that she was well-off. But she carried herself with a carefree air, one that spoke of ease and privilege. A woman for whom people would be glad to wait.

"You seem to be a favorite," I said, my arms jumbled with notebook, raincoat, purse, and sloshing coffee as I joined her. "Just before you came in, she refused to let me switch. Was quite rude about it, actually."

"I'm sure that isn't true. Sheila's always been unfailingly polite with me." She opened her menu. "That's how it goes around here, though. We like to take care of our own." If I hadn't been studying the sliver of her face I could see over the laminated folder, I would have missed the smug, self-satisfied quirk of her eyebrows.

I suspected then that her lateness had been no happenstance. I wondered if she'd known how Sheila would treat me alone. Before me was a woman who got what she wanted, and I thought she wanted me off balance.


Read on to Chapter 3

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About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (9)

  • Poppy 12 days ago

    Ooooh I'm enjoying it. Also, doing a series of short chapters is a great idea!! It really works for my embarassingly short attention span😅

  • Belle2 months ago

    Beautifully written and intriguing! These are written in perfectly digestible portions, and I'm living for it! Can't wait to read more.

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Great atmosphere and characterisation. The way you ended this chapter is leading me on.

  • Shirley Belk3 months ago

    I feel like I'm in the diner, too! Hate the waitress, for sure.

  • Kenny Penn3 months ago

    Beautiful imagery and great characterization. On to the next!

  • Hm this makes me curious and wanting to read the next part. Janie seems calculated in a way, maybe due to her whole life until your meeting with her.

  • Teetering on the edge of..., I'm not sure what. But teetering, just the same.

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    Your scene setup and the imagery throughout are incredibly well written.

  • John Cox3 months ago

    Wow, is this good!

Suze KayWritten by Suze Kay

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