A Woman & Her Child

As three stocky men walked through the front door, Olivia greeted them with a smile as she counted out menus. "Hey guys! I'm Olivia; I'm your host for this evening. Is there just the three of you?

"Yes ma'am." The tallest one replied politely, as the other men followed behind.

Taking a step in front of them, menus held against her chest Olivia paused. "Do you guys have any particular seating preference?"

"The bar please."

"Okay, sure thing. Follow me please." Olivia instructed leading them pack through the crowd.

As the men took their seats on the stools, Olivia passed out the menus. "Enjoy your meal."

"Thanks." One of them said; without glancing back, the door was open as people began to line up outside. Tapping a fellow waitress on the shoulder, the petite redhead turned around.

"Kaylee, where's Kate?"

Glancing over her shoulder, Kaylee placed the last set of silverware on the table. "I'm not sure. She might be in the back."

Taking a few steps towards the back room, Olivia sighed in frustration. "Hey can you work the front for me." Olivia pointed the crowd that continued to grow.

"Sure."

"Thanks!" Olivia acknowledged before jogging through the kitchen. Swinging a quick right, Olivia grasped the doorknob and pressed her weight against it.

It hadn't been an office for years and soon after; it turned into a makeshift lounge for colleagues. Many co-workers had brought furniture for the small living quarters. An old couch and chairs, a small television set and a short coffee table. It was cozy compared to the craziness on the main floor.

"Kate!" Olivia exclaimed, looking to Kate who was standing beside a playpen. "What are you doing in here? It's hell out there!"

"Sorry, I had to check on Ella." Kate apologized, setting her daughter gently back down into the playpen.

"Kate, I know that you're having troubles." Olivia went on, "But you really can't do this. This is a restaurant not a day care."

"I know and like I said, it's only for awhile." Kate gulped glancing down at her daughter. "My car just broke down and I can't afford a baby sitter right now."

"You know I hate to do this Kate, really I do. But there's been talk around and we aren't sure this place is right for you anymore." By this time her eyes were on the floor and her hand on the door.

As she finished Kate swallowed down hard a knot formed in her stomach. "Are you saying that you're firing me?" Kate asked her voice louder than intended. When she didn't reply, Kate felt tears well up in her eyes. "Liv you know that I need this job. Why are you doing this?"

Pulling the door open slightly, Olivia cleared her throat and stood up straight. "I'm sorry. You can finish up tonight if you'd like. But if you chose to leave now we'll send your check in the mail."

Not wasting another second, Olivia walked out slamming the door behind her. Staring at the door, Kate choked up and felt her legs weaken beneath her. Leaning against the counter, Kate tried to catch her breath. Closing her eyes, Ella's cries made her move.

Reaching down into the playpen, Kate lifted Ella against her chest. "It's okay baby." Kate whispered tapping her lightly on the back. Squatting down carefully, she opened the small refrigerator door. In there beside two sodas were two small baby bottles. Taking them in her hand, she slammed the refrigerator door closed with her foot.

"You ready to go home baby girl?"

Yanking the diaper bag down the counter, Kate shoved the bottles on the side pouch. Bending over carefully, she tugged a pink-fleece blanket from the playpen.

Walking towards the couch, Kate plopped down hard. Fighting back tears, she pulled the carseat from around the couch. Sitting it close beside her, she slipped her small newborn into the carseat. Strapping her in, Kate laid the pink-fleece blanket over top of her.

"Come on baby, let's go home." Snatching the diaper bag from the counter, she pulled it over her shoulder, the carseat in her other hand. Looking out into the crowded kitchen, Kate noticed Brandon wiping up a counter a few feet away. Maneuvering her way through the crowd, Kate grabbed his arm.

Turning to her, Brandon smiled wearily at her. He looked as if he hadn't shaved in days and the front of his chef uniform was covered in stains.

"Kate, what's up?"

Looking down, Kate swallowed her pride. She hated asking for rides, but this time she had no choice. "Are you busy?"

Wiping the counter down, he shook his head. "No, I was just about to go on my break why?"

"I was wondering if you could do me a quick favor.

"Thanks for this really. I'm sorry that I ruined your break."

"It's not problem, I understand." He assured her as they drove down the road. "I don't mind or anything, but I thought you usually hitch a ride with Kaylee."

Peering back over the seat, Kate looked at Ella who was sleeping soundly. But then again she always did when she rode in cars. "I do usually."

"Then why didn't you wait up for her?"

Focusing out the window, Kate couldn't lie; he was kind enough to give her a ride and she wanted to return the favor. "I got fired Brandon." Kate said evenly, which caught Brandon off guard.

"What?"

Feeling his eyes on her, Kate only nodded. "Olivia fired me."

"Why the hell would she do that?" Brandon asked angrily, "Everyone knows that your one of the hardest workers we've got."

"Thanks Brandon, your sweet. But I haven't been very great lately. Especially since my car broke down. So in some ways I don't blame her for firing me."

"But we all know that you have a lot on your plate right now." Brandon acknowledged. "What do you plan on doing now?"

"I don't know." Kate whispered. "I'll go job hunting of course."

"How are you going to get around?" Brandon asked curiously.

"I might hit up my neighbor. She's an older lady and I usually go grocery shopping for her at the beginning of the month. She usually gives me a few bucks for it."

"What if you can't use her car?"

"There's always the bus." Kate told him with a fake smile, as they pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex. As the car came to a stop, Kate looked down at her hands.

"Thanks Brandon, really. I'll pay you back some day."

"Like I said Kate, it's no problem." He assured her.

"I'll see you around." Kate smiled, opening the door. Stepping to the back of the car, she unbuckled the seat belt and pulled out the carseat.

"I might stop by tomorrow."

"Brandon you really don't hav -."

"Kate, I'll see you tomorrow."