The third chapter


They say “another day, another dollar,” and it certainly rings true for me. It is, indeed, another day at the restaurant. I do, indeed, hope to make another dollar– if not a little more (tips, please?).

I almost despise this job, but I just got it a few months ago, so I figure I should stay for at least a little while longer.

It’s a quaint place, a cozy restaurant for all things continental breakfast. Each plate comes up greasy and delicious– so bad for your physical heart but so good for your spiritual one.

The main thing I don’t like about this place is the kids from my school who come in all the time.

I don’t like people seeing me work here. Most kids at my school don’t need to work, so they don’t bother finding a job. Some people have asked me why I have a job if my family has enough money.

I just think it’s a good thing to experience and learn.

I learned how to be humble, how to work for myself. I learned that people (the ones who aren’t my classmates) coming in have stories to tell. I learned that every voice has a purpose.

My favorite people to wait are those who are traveling through our town. They’re on some big trip and stop by here for a day or two. I love to hear them talk.

I’ve heard about Rome. I’ve heard about Shanghai. I’ve heard about Sao Paulo.

People who have seen the world are accepting and open. They aren’t easily fazed, and they seem to have a will of steel.

Most importantly, they have a purpose. They have a destination in mind, which is why they’re passing by our restaurant.

Some take one look at the continental breakfast menu and are disgusted. They think to themselves, “How can someone eat such bland food all day? There’s nothing unique to this cuisine!”

Others treat the meal like an old friend. They’re thankful for the reminder of their previous home, and they sometimes even confide in me that they miss the hash browns and bacon.

Either way, they are the people who are always the most thankful for a warm meal and a warmer conversation.



The timer on Wren’s watch went off. Her break was over.

Like always, she closed her notebook, stowed it in her bag, and stood up to make her way back into the kitchen. There was a group of travelers who had just gotten seated a few booths down from the entrance, and Wren planned to make a beeline over there to wait on them.

The bell hanging from the door chimed again as Wren put her apron back on. Wren was struck cold when she saw who walked in. Colton.

She turned red but pretended not to see him as she continued toward the booth. She put on an extra cheery smile as she greeted the group. There were four blonde men who looked around thirty, all carrying hiking bags and an empty stomach.

“Hi, folks! How are you all doing today?” Wren beamed.

“We’re all doing great, thank you,” one of the travelers answered. His friend offered a hearty wave and commented on how hungry they all were.

Wren nodded. “Well, I’m glad you guys came in hungry because we’re going to cook up a feast for you! Where do you guys come from?”

The travelers all had different answers: one came from Spain, the second from Switzerland, another from Mexico, and the last from Anchorage, Alaska. They explained that they were on a twenty-week road trip from Maine to the border of Mexico and that they had been hiking in a nature preserve a couple of hours away.

As the men told their story about camping in the woods and encountering wild animals, Wren’s smile grew larger and larger. Hearing these seemingly fairytale fables inspired her more every day.

Just when the story drew to an end, Wren felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around, her smile fading as she saw that it was Colton.

“Excuse me, miss, where’s the restroom?” Colton asked jokingly.

Wren’s face fell flat. “Over there, down that hallway, first door on your left.”

Colton smirked and walked away, leaving Wren, who was happy to get back to her group of voyagers. She came back to the table after taking orders to chat for another twenty minutes; she only finally let them be when their food came out.

As she walked by Colton’s table, he stuck out a hand and a question. “Hey, miss, can you bring me another water, please?”

Wren sighed. “Of course!” The fake smile on her face hid her annoyance at his deliberate bothering.

When she came back out with the water, Colton thanked her in a much too enthusiastic manner. Wren rolled her eyes internally. She half panicked as she saw that he was about to initiate even more unnecessary conversation.

Colton’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “Wren, will you go on a date with me?”