Marie Dehaan wouldn't say she has the perfect life. but she's happy nonetheless. Unfortunately, happiness is never permanent - not when all she knows is violated and destroyed. There is no happiness now, and all she can think of is revenge.
“Hi, welcome to Spencer’s! What can I get for you?”
Marie wasn’t expecting to get many customers on such a late shift. To be honest, the only reason why she had taken this shift, compared to her usual midday one was because of Dane. Her older classmate had all but gotten on his knees to ask her to cover this shift for him. The things she did for others…
“I’ll have the daily soup and a grilled cheese, please.” His voice was low and deep, and it sounded very unused.
“Would you like something to drink with that?” Marie looked up from her notebook and paused at his appearance. The man was hunched over the menu, a skullcap was jammed over his head (although tendrils of dark hair peeked from the cap), he sported a large, unkempt beard, and he wore large sunglasses that made him almost unidentifiable.
The waitress raised an eyebrow at the man. If that look wasn’t suspicious, she didn’t know what was.
After a moment of deliberation, the man answered, “I would like to have the tea please. The special.”
Her second eyebrow rose to join the first. He didn’t strike her as a tea sort of person – more of a beer, or even a whiskey. Nevertheless, she dutifully wrote down his order, and concluded, “Your soup will be 10 minutes, but I’ll be right back with your tea.”
Spencer’s was a very small diner found just at the corner of her neighborhood. It was constantly filled with teenagers after a high school event, and parents who were too busy to be bothered with making dinner for the family that night. Every staff member knew every patron, and vice-versa. With this in mind, it was no surprise when she was immediately hounded when she reached the counter.
Jessica was the first to reach her. “Who was that?” she whispered, constantly glancing behind her to look at the strange patron.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care. And neither should you,” Marie replied, already used to Jessica’s gossipy ways. She was a sweet girl, but she sure did like to talk about other people.
“But…just look at how he’s dressed!” By this time, Jacob and Leslie were surrounding her as well as she made her way to the tea section of the backroom.
“Looked like a right ol’ caveman to me,” Jacob grunted. Marie laughed.
“Coming from you, that must be a compliment,” she teased as she took in the calming scents of chamomile and chai tea bags.
Jacob was large for his age; already six feet and five inches at sixteen, with long blond hair that was usually in a ponytail, and a great beard that made him look at least a decade older than he actually was. His look was very archaic, and once in a while, people jokingly referred to him as Messiah.
Jessica and Leslie laughed along with Marie, and Leslie softly tugged on Jacob’s low ponytail. The boy scowled lightly and elbowed the girl, but broke into a smile as well. Leslie had infectious laughter, and even though she didn’t talk much, she could always make everyone around her smile just by smiling herself.
“Gimme a sec guys, I have to take this over to Mr. Caveman,” Marie said, wiping down her tea tray of any excess liquid and carefully settling the teapot and cup on it.
Jessica rolled her eyes at her, but dutifully cleared the path for her counterpart. “I swear, you treat that tea counter like it’s your baby,” she said, holding the door open for her.
“Well of course it’s my baby,” the girl quipped back. “I’m the only one around here that can make decent tea! That’s why I always make the specials, remember?” she strode out of the backroom, balancing the tray with practiced ease as she made her way back to the tables.
“Here you are!” she said cheerfully, noting but not commenting how startled the man seemed at her reappearance. “One chamomile and chai tea, with a touch of lavender, because you look like you could use it.” She winked at him as she set the tray down carefully, pouring out the beige liquid into a teacup for the patron.
Straightening herself, she looked down expectantly at him. He stared back at her, and she couldn’t help but wonder what he looked like without those sunglasses. “Well?” she asked, gesturing at the tea. “I want to know I did good!”
He stared at her for a moment more, before turning to the teacup in front of him. Slowly, he reached for the delicate china – that’s when she noticed that he was wearing fingerless gloves – and gently brought it up to his lips for a sip.
This was usually her favorite part. She usually got to see her patrons slowly close their eyes in bliss as they sipped her tea, and she got to see the tension in their shoulders slowly leave, and a few seconds later they would open their eyes and give her a blinding smile in thanks.
Her strange patron made no extra movements as he sipped, and she wasn’t able to see if his eyes had closed in bliss just as she had seen countless others do. Nevertheless, she smiled at him, waiting for a verdict.
“It’s…good,” he declared lamely, giving her a tight smile.
“Oh…” she said, her figure slumping in disappointment. “Well, I’ll just leave you to enjoy the rest of your tea. Your soup and grilled cheese will be done very shortly.” She spun around to make her way to the backroom, but heard his rough voice call out and paused in her movements.
“I didn’t mean...what I said was wrong. It’s very good tea; probably the best tea I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you.”
She didn’t turn to look at him, but she smiled happily, and continued to make her way to the backroom.
The rest of the night went fairly smoothly, and before she knew it, Marie was closing up for the night and wishing a goodnight to her coworkers. Jessica offered her a ride home, but she declined. She didn’t live that far from Spencer’s, and on beautiful nights like this, she liked to enjoy the nighttime and take walks.
Years ago, when Marie was younger, she had lived in a bigger city with her parents. It was an enlightening experience, especially when her parents got divorced and she moved into a smaller town with her grandparents. Everyone knew everyone else, and there was a certain blanket of peace and security surrounding the town that was lacking in the city. Even when she had been younger, she knew to be more careful, because you didn’t know whom to trust in the city. That was practically the polar opposite in the smaller town.
Most of the houses were dark, and the music from her headphones seemed to penetrate through them and into the silent night. It was a calming experience, being able to walk alone at night without fear of someone behind her.
Marie’s grandparents were well off, although they disliked flaunting their wealth. Their house was a homey two-story building with multi-colored roof tiles, Victorian-styled windows, and pale blue painted walls. The home was surrounded by flowerbeds of all kinds. Marie’s grandmother was a gardening fiend, and most of her free time was spent in the garden, caring for her flowers.
“I’m home!” Marie called out as she walked through the threshold of the bright red door. Ming, their Siamese cat, mewed loudly at her arrival and wound himself in between her legs.
Odette Dehaan was a tiny woman who didn’t look a day over fifty. She walked out of the kitchen carrying a tray of cookies, her gray-streaked hair up in her traditional tight cooking bun. “Welcome home darling,” she called out as she gently placed the tray on top of a tablemat to prevent the table wood from scorching from the hot metal. “You’re just in time for some cookies!”
“Nana, why are you baking at midnight?” Marie asked exasperatedly. Nevertheless, she quickly snatched a cookie and gave her grandma a kiss before making her way to living room.
“I was craving something sweet!” Odette defended herself, following her granddaughter with a plateful of said cookies. “Besides, your darling grandfather refused to go to sleep without making sure you made it home safely, so I had some time to kill.”
Marie smiled, and went over to hug her grandfather. Reginald Dehaan had a somber atmosphere around him, and it took years of interacting with him to understand that the man was naturally subdued, and it took several more to interpret the slight changes in his mood accurately.
To be honest, she first didn’t understand how her cheerful and upbeat grandmother had ended up with someone as serious and collected as her grandfather. But after living with them for so long, she understood that they complimented each other in a way that she had never seen in a couple before.
“Thanks Papa, but you know I would have been fine! Nothing excited happens in Greenholt anyway,” the teenager said, leaning on the armrest of her grandfather’s seat.
“Dangerous isn’t exciting, Anne-Marie,” Robert grunted, giving her a stern eye. “All of those things you hear about in the news are scary, and it would do you good not to wish for any of that to happen here.”
“Well I know that!” she said indignantly. “I just think…I don’t know, that Greenholt is always the same! Nothing ever changes! Tomorrow I’m going to go to school, the popular kids are going to be popular, the unpopular kids are going to be unpopular, and the world is going to go round once again. That’s all that ever happens.”
“It’s your last year of high school darling,” Odette said, sympathetically patting her granddaughter’s knee. “You’re bound to get sick of it. But wait till college comes around! You are going to have the experience of a lifetime there –“
“No parties,” was all her grandfather intoned, his eyebrows furrowed.
“Don’t be a Debbie Downer, Reggie,” her grandmother responded. “She can go to all the parties she pleases! As long as she’s responsible and safe.”
“Aren’t I always?” Marie said, standing and stretching. She obliged herself to one more cookie before kissing both grandparents goodnight and heading for the stairs to the bedrooms.
Ming mewed at her once more at the base of the staircase, and she crouched down to pick him up, settling him on her shoulders and making her way to her bedroom.
Although she had slept in this room almost every day (excluding sleepovers and vacations) for eight consecutive years, Marie loved her room to bits. It was fairly spacious, with enough room for her queen-sized bed as well as her moderately sized work-desk. There were several things Marie loved about her unique bedroom: her window-side seat upon which she read on rainy days, the spaciousness of the room and the large closet she had all to herself. However, the one thing she loved the most about her bedroom was her walls. They were painted a pale peach color, but what stood out most about them were the several handprints scattered across the walls, the entire vision of colorful handprints creating a stunning mural.
She remembered years ago, putting her very first handprint (yellow of course, because back then yellow was the best color ever in her opinion) right above the headboard of her then twin-sized bed. Almost immediately after that, she caught Ming on his way out of her room, stuck his paw in the red paint, and created a print right next to hers. Ming had yowled angrily and immediately sped out of the room, trailing red paint all over her floor. Her grandparents didn’t know whether to be angry or amused, and instead settled on dipping their hands in blue and green paint buckets and placing their handprints right next to hers.
This ritual continued every year, and every time she had a new friend over, she was certain to present them a bucket of paint to add to her growing collection. After eight years of this, the handprints stretched across all four walls of her room. Soon enough she would have to start printing on her ceiling. Although there was no method to the madness of the handprints, she knew the owner of each single print, and was very proud of that fact.
Ming gracefully jumped off her shoulders and settled himself on her pillow. She snorted at him.
“You lazy bastard,” she said, bending to untie her Converse. “I hope you realize I have to sleep too. I totally expect you to remove yourself by the time I get back from the bathroom!”
The Siamese cat blinked lazily at her in response and Marie scoffed, turning away to take off her red and white work clothes. She hung them up in her closet, and quickly got into her pajama pants and tank top. After changing, she grabbed her face towel and headed out of her room, scowling at Ming once more before leaving her room.
Marie beamed at her reflection as she entered the brightly lit bathroom. Although she was a regular teenager and had her particularly angsty moments, she was generally very confident in herself and in the way she looked.
Pictures of her grandmother showed she had beautiful curly red hair when she was younger (which she passed on to her son, Marie’s father), Although she had inherited the curls, Marie had strawberry blonde hair that had a tendency of looking ginger on some days and light blonde on others. She had startling green eyes, which she got a lot of comments about from strangers. The attention was nice at times, but was sometimes very irritating, and she had taken to wearing plain brown contacts when she was around strangers, especially at work. Most of her family measured in at an average of five feet and seven inches; however, she seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick, literally, and only stood at a measly five foot five inches. She was used to her friends saying her height made her adorable, but she honestly wished she could at least get two more inches in before she hit her peak of growing.
“Stop hogging the bathroom!” Odette called out, banging on the locked door.
“I just got in here!” she hollered back, quickly pulling her hair back into a ponytail and opening her contact case. “Give me five minutes, and if you really need to, there’s a second bathroom for a reason!”
She heard her grandmother grumble a bit, but shuffle away nevertheless. Marie quickly removed her contacts, and brushed her teeth just as quickly, before wiping down her face with her face towel.
After finishing with her nightly ritual, she informed Odette that the bathroom was open now empty, and made her way to her room for what she hoped to be a good night’s sleep.