I always, always, cursed myself for not turning off my phone before I went to bed, because it lately seemed that the constant high pitched rings were waking me up daily. I grumbled under my breath as I shuffled around the bed, groping for my loud phone. The delay was probably caused by the fact that I never opened my eyes, but right now they felt too heavy. I finally found the cursed invention, felt for the answer button and stuck it to my ear.
"What?" I murmured into the microphone, irritation clear in my voice. I pretty much knew who it would be at this hour, and I wanted her to feel guilty.
"I am sitting at the airport, all alone, waiting for my flight to a completely new and unknown place, and that's the kind of greeting I get?! You said you would come to bid me farewell!"
"Christine, you are going to New York. I think we have watched enough New-York-based movies in the final two weeks before your departure that you should know the place like the back of your hand. And I said I would come to the airport before I found out I had to be there at six a.m!"
Christine let out a loud sigh directly into my earpiece, making me cringe. I finally opened my eyes and sat up, leaning against the headboard and gathering my blanket around me. "Okay, I'm sorry, I should have been there, I know. I was up all night trying to find a summer job opening online, and there was no way in hell I was going to be able to wake up in time."
"I thought we agreed on the job offered to you at the arcade?"
This time it was my turn to sigh. "Yeah, I know, I was just looking for something more intellectually stimulating. I mean, you're going off to New York for an internship at the Marriott, Jorgia is on a Euro trip with her family, and I'm going to be stuck here at home alone and in a dumbass job for the next three months."
This had been bothering me for a while now, but I had avoided voicing it out until just now. I was happy for my friends, I really was, but this summer was just not looking very promising. It was the summer before I would begin university life, and high school graduates usually went on trips around the world, or joined the Peace Corp, or did an internship or atleast went to a summer house were sun, sand and flings were abundant. None of that was in my immediate future.
"Oh. Right." Chris finally seemed to have gotten it, and now seemed lost for words.
I felt bad for her, it was her day after all, and I wouldn't get to see or talk to her much after today. I pushed the bitterness out of my voice. "On a happier note, however, you are embarking on an adventure! Remember to always lock your door, before going to bed. Eat three times a day, don't skip meals! Talk to strangers, but only cute, hot ones. Keep away from the creepy weird ones. Pay attention to all they teach you."
Once I got started on my motherly advice, I didn't stop until it was finally time for her to board the plane. Call me crazy, but I loved my girls to death. This was the first time we wouldn't be spending a whole summer together, and if I wasn't there to guide them, who knew what kind of antics they would get themselves into?
"Okay, okay, grandma Lana, I have to go now. I'll call you once I'm there and settled in, alright? Don't have too much fun without me now. Love you!"
I hung up with Chris and looked around my room. It was a mess, and my neat-freak genes wanted to kick in badly. I pushed them away for now. I wasn't going to spend the day cleaning when both my friends were having the time of their lives. I had to get moving. I took a quick shower and dressed up. I was the kind of person who would dress for comfort, and my wardrobe consisted mostly of tshirts, jeans and sneakers.
Closing the door of my room behind me, I headed to the kitchen. I found my mom at the table with my baby brother, Aidan, having breakfast. Dad was probably already at work. We all knew he had issues, but no one was willing to accept it. He was a workaholic. The first one to check in for work and the last one to check out. His contact with his family was very limited, but mom chose to ignore this, busying herself with Aidan, who was barely three years old. I made sure to stay out of her grasp, or else she would start using me as an escape as well. Yes, my family was dysfunctional. Whose isn't, nowadays?
"Lana, honey, you're up early!" mom exclaimed as I walked past her to get my car keys from the key hanger on the wall. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Yeah, Chris woke me up. I'll have breakfast at the diner, mom. Then I'll go get a job. You don't have to worry about me. I'll be home for dinner."
I glanced at Aidan on my way out of the kitchen and spared him a small smile. I wasn't very big on family bonding, and I constantly felt like an outsider in my own home. I stayed out of it as much as I could. Three more months, then I could move out. I couldn't wait.
I walked to my car, a four-wheel-drive, not exactly the top of the line. It was my dad's, before he decided to settle for a smaller, more economical sedan. Sure, my car guzzled gas and was kind of clunky, but it was my escape away from the house. It was more of a home to me than the actual house. I spent practically whole days in it, and when Jorgia and Chris were around, it would be like our little clubhouse on wheels.
The heat made me regret my choice to wear jeans instead of shorts, but I shrugged it off. I wasn't going back in now. I revved up the engine, backed out of the garage and drove out my neighborhood. The diner where I usually had most of my meals was a small place run by a local chef. The food was mediocre, but the had free wifi and everyone who worked there knew me. That meant they knew how I liked to be treated: I liked to be left alone. No small talk, no pleasant exchanges. Just take my order, bring me my food, I'll pay up, then leave.
Yeah, did I mention I was sort of a loner? Jorgia and Christine, they were probably the most popular girls back in high school. Everyone knew them, liked them, wanted to be with them. I have no idea how we became friends, but we did and now I can't imagine life without them. They're more like a family to me than my own family. Because of me, they turn down invites to parties and social gatherings, because I don't like crowds or mingling. I am very, very anti-social. I know that's not normal for an eighteen year old, but I think emotional disabilities just run in my genes. The reason why I love Jorge and Chris is because they never tried to change me. They understand that's just how I am, and they deal with it. It's not very fair to them, I know, but it's too late to change that.
I parked in front of the diner, which seemed rather empty. Just how I liked it. The tingle of a small bell signaled my arrival, and I took my place at the usual booth, at the farthest end, in a corner. I had my laptop with me and I turned it on, settling in.
"What's a pretty lady like you doing all alone? Not that I'm complaining. Gives me a chance to come to the rescue."
That deep drawling voice made me raise my eyebrows. I hadn't noticed anyone else in the other booths and none of the waiters would dare talk to me like that. I looked up, and the new face in a waiter's uniform explained everything. "I'll have pancakes with cottage cheese, a plate of sausages and an orange juice. Thank you."
The frown on my face deepened as the annoying waiter slipped into the seat in front of me. "Playing hard to get, are we? No problem, I like myself a challenge." Before he could continue, however, a notepad hit him square on his forehead, making him almost fall off his chair.
"Dan! What have I told you about flirting with the customers? I swear, if you weren't Annie's son..." Mary, the wife of the chef, trailed off as she remembered I was sitting right there, looking at her expectantly. "Sorry Lana, this idiot is new. He won't be bothering you. The usual, I presume?" I nodded, giving her a genuine smile, and she walked away, pulling Dan by his apron. He managed to turn around to give me another annoying smile, before I turned my eyes back to the laptop.
Throughout my meal, I had the disconcerting feeling of someone watching me, and sure enough, that idiot of a waiter didn't take his eyes off of me, giving me a wink every time I glared at him. I liked this diner, and having to find a new one would be a hassle, but if he continued to annoy me, I wouldn't have a choice. I was almost certain he'd find someone else to stare at soon enough. I wasn't the kind of girl boys found interesting for long. Mostly because I wouldn't speak.
Once I was done with my meal and had said bye to Jorgia, who had finally found some internet access, I paid, gave one last glare in Dan's direction, and walked back to my car. Placing the laptop on the backseat, I sighed and leaned my head against the headrest, both hands on the wheel. I had no choice but to accept that arcade job. Today was the last day it would be reserved for me, and I couldn't find anything else. Not having a job would drive me crazy. I headed towards it, resigning myself to handing out tokens and hot dogs to noisy and smelly boys over the next three months.