41 A Fork in the Road

Dust skitters ahead of the dry wind. The jerky slither of the grains against the battered pavement hums incessantly beneath every ambient sound.  Against the dwindling daylight, a neon diner sign clicks, hums, sputters and then fades off before repeating the apathetic cycle. A pathetically white building sits in an over-sized lot. Dying red neon rods fail to frame each foggy window. The scrawled letters of the open sign hang precariously from a zip-tie unceremoniously shoved through one tattered cardboard corner and anchored to a blemished aluminum handle. Faded yellow Formica counters line two sides of the tiled room. Evenly spaced stools, topped with faded red plastic caps, stand guard. Four booth and table sets slouch beside the gritty window sills and provided a panoramic view of the pock marked parking lot. Destiny stares out the window absently as she screws the top back on the sugar container on the counter.  She wipes her hands on her stained apron and turns to face the service window. “Looks like another slow night, Brady. We’ll be able to lock up early.” Brady looks up from his cell phone, scans the vacant parking lot and nods. He smiles slightly her then slides his phone into the rear pocket of his faded jeans. “You want something for dinner?”  Destiny shakes her head, “No, I’m not hungry and there’s no sense in greasing the grill. We’ll get out sooner.” Brady laughs, “Yeah, like either one of us has anywhere to be on a Friday night.” Destiny smiles his mirth, “True, only a few more Friday’s like this before you’re outta here, right?”  Brady nods and then comes out of the kitchen and perches on the stool on the end of the counter. “My official orders came through, I leave for Fort Benning right after graduation. My mom is kinda upset, but since I didn’t get the scholarship…” his voice trails off. Destiny pats his shoulder as she walks past him and grabs the clean flatware from the dishwasher. She looks around at the pale existence she’s scratched out. She watches as Brady fishes his phone back out of his pocket.  Destiny divides the pieces into sets and begins to roll them into napkins. “Get out while you can, Brady. There’s no sense in getting to the fork in the road and just standing still.”

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