MoboReader > Short stories > Deny Thyself

   Chapter 1 NO.1

Deny Thyself By LadyRosabella Characters: 13665

Updated: 2017-12-20 15:38

Evlyn! What happened to you?" Callie asked. Evlyn stood in the kitchen's doorway, red tomato soup dripping from her white apron. "The world would have been better off if God had skipped the creating of men and jumped straight to females." She muttered, snatching up a wet cloth to sponge her apron. The soup smeared into a large puckish colored stain.

"But he didn't, " Callie reminded softly, "because he knew it wasn't good for man or woman to continue alone. I am thankful every day for my dear Benjamin. He is a blessing to me. What has you in such a sore mood anyways?" Callie helped Evlyn take her apron off then she put it in the bag for dirty towels.

"A man yelled at me because his soup was cold. I told him I would bring him a new bowl right away but he dumped his bowl on me and left. He didn't even pay for the iced tea he drank!" Evlyn sat down on a stool in the corner of the kitchen. "I am so tired of this life. I try so hard, why does everything go badly for me all the time?" She rested her head in her hands.

Rosa shook her head in disgust. "It's just soup on an apron. It will come clean. No reason to be depressed."

Callie wrapped an arm around Evlyn's shoulders giving her a small hug. "Think of all your blessings. You're free from your father, you have a paying job-"

Rosa snorted. "That's all she can say about this job. We take more abuse then its worth."

"You live in a nice place. " Callie continued, ignoring Rosa's outburst. "And you have two friends who care about you a lot."

Evlyn tilted her head towards Callie and gave her a small smile. "I shouldn't complain. I am sorry. You're right; there are more important things then a bowl of soup."

"Now she's seeing the light!" Rosa declared rather loudly. "Now, can you get back to the tables before you have to scratch 'paying job' off the blessing list?"

Evlyn straightened. Tossing Rosa a salute, she turned on her heel and took a tray out to table number three.

The three friends worked together in a small diner. The town's mayor owned the diner. It was a small, rather run-down affair, but as the only food-serving establishment in the town, it received a fair amount of business. The business usually came from bachelors who despised cooking for themselves or from folks passing through.

Evlyn tucked a tip in her pocket and carried the empty dishes back to the kitchen. She was surprised to find the diner's owner, Mr. Abner Manass, sitting at the small table a large piece of pie in front of him. "Well, gals." He said around a large bite of pie. "I come 'ta tell 'ya that yer pay is goin' down again. Sorry, but I gots 'ta do it."

"Mr. Manass, don't try to tell us we haven't been busy!" Rosa protested. "We're running ourselves ragged trying to serve all the customers every day!"

"Don't argue with me, gal. I'll haf 'ta fire 'ya." Mr. Manass warned a sulky Rosa. "I see the income an believe me, food ain't sellin' no good. That's all I gotta say." Pushing back from his chair, Mr. Manass left the kitchen letting the door slam behind him.

"Oohh! He makes me so mad!" Rosa exclaimed, dropping his dishes into the sink with a loud clattering sound.

"Calm down, Rosa. We should give him the benefit of the doubt. It has to be difficult to be a mayor and own a business." Callie said trying to soothe her friend.

"We're barely making anything as it is!" Rosa protested.

"She's right, Callie." Evlyn said. "We put up with a lot. Between the awful customers, putting up with him and the terrible pay it's a miracle we haven't lost our minds. If there was some other decent place for a woman to work, believe me, I would leave the diner."

"I agree with Evlyn. The only good thing this job ever gave us was a free meal at lunch." Rosa said crossing her arms.

"I agree." Callie conceded. "But many people have much less than we do. We must be thankful for what we have, even if we do think if it is a thankless job."

Rosa smiled at Evlyn. "Whatever would we do without her calming words and sweet disposition?"

Evlyn shook her head. "I don't know. I feel ashamed at my outburst. At least we have a warm bed and food every day. I remember when I was growing up; a family lived across the field from us. The husband was a widower. He was shiftless. He had thirteen children; and they barely had enough to eat. Momma used to bake extra for them on her baking day."

"That's terrible." Callie said. Her expressive brown eyes revealed her distress.

"Whatever happened to those poor children?" Rosa asked as she washed Mr. Manass' dishes.

"The owner of the mercantile offered the oldest boy work. After that, the older children hired themselves out as farm hands or household help. They moved away after their father died. I haven't heard of them since."

"One thing is for sure, as long as we have each other we will be blessed; even if we do have the worst job in all of America!" Rosa declared with a fond smile at her two best friends.

Evlyn was surprised to see tears streaming down Callie's pale cheeks. "Callie! What is it?"

Callie embraced Evlyn. "I'm going to miss you so much!" She sniffled into Evlyn's hair.

Evlyn pulled back, holding Callie at arm's length. "Miss me? Callie, what do you mean? Oh, Callie!" Evlyn gasped. "You can't mean that you're-you're dying!"

Despite her tears, Callie managed a giggle. "No, dear Evlyn. Benjamin and I are leaving. We're going west. President Polk has confirmed that there is gold in California and Benjamin wants to try his hand at gold mining. We have to leave with the wagon train in two days."

"Callie, why didn't you tell us sooner?" Rosa demanded.

"I didn't want our last weeks to be spent in tears and sadness." Callie stepped away from Evlyn and sat down at the table. "I'm sorry. I suppose I should have told you sooner. I just wanted to remember our last days together the way we've always been."

"Maybe you had it wrong, Callie. Maybe we would've rejoiced at your leaving." Rosa grinned.

"Rosa, you're harsh!" Callie laughed.

"Hey!" A man's voice yelled from the dining room. "What's a man gotta do to get some grub around this place?"

"Coming!" Evlyn called. "Callie, I am very sad that you're leaving. Nevertheless, I think that you will have a grand adventure going to California. Who knows? You may strike it rich!"

"If you do, send some back for me so I can retire!" Rosa laughed.

Evlyn hurried back to work. She was distracted the rest of the day. Callie had been her friend since she moved to this town a year ago. It wasn't long enough. She wanted more time with her dear friend. Why did everything thing she became attached to disappear? Why did everyone she ever loved end up hurting her? Why had she been so stupid to try again with people? She was meant to be alone in lif

e. She was strong she could make it. She was making it. Just look at her now. She did not need her father; didn't need his abusive ways and demeaning words. She was making it just fine on her own. Just fine.

"How many wagons do we have?" Wagon master, Tyrone Gurtslinger asked his assistant.

"Eight so far. We still have a couple days though."

"Eight is a good number. If you get too many wagons there's trouble, get too few and you have trouble." Gurtslinger said. "You did well on the last couple runs. Planning on making this your life?"

"If you'd asked me that a couple years ago I would've agreed right away." Peter shook his head. "But now I'm not so sure. Rambling is good for a time but now I want to settle down. Maybe take up ranching like my grandpa."

Gurtslinger nodded. "I know what you mean. It's been hard on my wife. I've been dragging her everywhere for the last six years. She hasn't complained but I think she grew weary of this life a month after we married.

Sometimes I think I never shoulda married. Either that or gave up the trains." Gurtslinger sighed and ran a hand through his graying hair. "I've been thinking about retiring. I was planning on making this my last train." He eyed the tall man before him. "I was gonna hand it over to you, if you wanted it."

Peter was filled his pride at his mentor's words. "Thanks, Tyrone. You don't know how much that offer means to me."

Gurtslinger slapped Peter on the back. "I do. I felt the same way when they handed the train over to me. Only thing was, I was stupid enough to accept it." He turned and lumbered across the street to the ramshackle mercantile. This town sure knew how to keep its buildings looking nice. Most of the buildings had no paint, which was fine in most cases, but besides paint, they had no windows. Most of the boardwalks were rotting in several places. It was unsafe to walk in this town. The street was a large mud hole just waiting for some hogs to come and take their leisure. The whole town just had an unappealing look to it; and it stank.

"Stocking up on ammunition in case we have trouble with the Syrins gang again?" Peter asked him as they sidestepped dangerous parts of the sidewalk.

"I think we have enough; unless you plan to go trigger-happy before they call on us." Gurtslinger said with a sly glance at his somewhat unpredictable friend.

"I don't use my gun lightly, Tyrone." Peter reminded him. "You should know me better than that."

Gurtslinger shook his head as he entered the mercantile. "And you should learn how to take some teasing, boy." He sighed and turned to face Peter. "You're right though. The Syrins gang is dangerous. They steal you blind; kill as many animals of yours as they can. Burn the trains. In some cases, they take hostages. We do need to be very careful. So far we've been fortunate."

"I've only seen their work once. And I'm not eager to witness it again." Peter said with a shudder as he thought about the needless killing that had occurred in that instance.

"We'll have to be especially careful with such a small train. We'll be viewed as easy pickings if they come across us."

Evlyn waited while Rosa locked the diner's door up for the night. "I never understand why we need to lock the door when the building doesn't even have windows." She commented as Rosa stuffed the large brass key in her handbag.

"I suppose it makes the Mr. Manass feel safe and cozy. Come on, let's get home. I'm beat." Evlyn and Rosa walked the short distance to the room they shared at the boarding house. The days were just beginning to get warmer. The sun stayed out longer. Early spring flowers were starting to bloom in the muddy town.

"I wish I were going with Callie and Benjamin." Evlyn commented. "Just think of the beautiful land between here and California."

"Beautiful land?" Rosa laughed. "Think of the bugs, the heat, and lack of water; long days and short nights-."

"Okay! Okay! I get your message." Evlyn said as they entered their small room. The room held one double bed, a closet, and a chair. It wasn't much but it was satisfying for the price. "It's hard to be happy with what you have when you're heart longs for something more."

"Evlyn, do you know how many people never make it to their destination. On the wagon train Callie's taking probably three out of ten will die during the journey."

"Rosa! Don't say that." Evlyn pleaded. "Callie and Benjamin will make it to California safely. And who knows, maybe they'll have an addition to their family before the trip is over."

Rosa sat down on the bed and pulled her boots off. In this town, wearing knee-high boots was a requirement if you didn't like mud on your feet. "Callie's in the family way?"

"According to Doc she is." Evlyn said as she hung up her dress and pulled her nightgown over her head. Rosa unbuttoned her dress and hung it next to Evlyn's. Silence filled the small room while the girls went about their evening routine.

"Do you miss your father?" Rosa finally asked softly as Evlyn pulled down the blankets on the bed. Evlyn got into the bed and pulled the covers over her as she thought about her father. "I don't know." She paused as she thought of how life had been with her father. "He hurt me, Rosa. Hit me until I was senseless. I pray for him. I wish he were different. But I don't miss my life with him."

"It's okay." Rosa assured her as she climbed into the bed. "I shouldn't have asked. I just wondered where you stood with your father."

"My mother would still be alive if it weren't for him." Evlyn said in a barely audible whisper. "I would've had a little sister." A tear slid down her cheek as she thought of the life that could have been hers. No. She did not miss life with the man who took everything from her. She had barely escaped with her life. Injured in heart and body she made her way to the town she now resided in. That was a year ago.

"Evlyn?" Whispered Rosa.

"Yes?" Evlyn replied in a shaky voice.

"I know you don't take to most people because of what he did to you, but I want you to know that I am glad you are my friend and a part of my life."

"Thanks, Rosa. I feel the same way about you and Callie. You're like the family I couldn't have." Evlyn whispered. She was very thankful for her two best friends. They helped her when she had no one. They pushed their way past her defenses and befriended her. They were true and good friends. She would be forever grateful to them.






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