Alyssa Landing sat on the cold tile of the small bathroom with a small mirror on the floor in front of her. She poured the remaining contents of the tiny bag that she was holding in her shaky hands out onto the mirror. She placed a five dollar bill over the small mound of white powder and used a credit card to scrape up and down the bill, diligently trying to smooth all chunks out of the powder.
When she felt she had done a sufficient job, Alyssa picked up the bill and scraped any powder off of the bill and back onto the now flattened mound. She used her card to chop up the powder and then cut it into two long lines, being careful not to miss any. She licked the card and put it down on the mirror next to the lines, then rolled up the bill and leaned down to snort up all of the drug on the mirror. She did both lines quickly and quietly, then licked the mirror clean and put all of her tools into her small hand bag. She sniffed back everything remaining in her nose and stood up to check herself in the mirror.
Feeling much revived, Alyssa walked out of the bathroom and to the back of the diner that she worked in, where she put down her bag and tied her apron around her waist. Then she picked up a pot of coffee and walked into the dining room, to table 42, where a business man was sitting, eating a muffin. She refilled his cup, then put down the pot and put her hands on her waist.
'Yes?' the man asked, smiling up at her.
'Sir, you come in here every morning, sit at this same table, and order nothing but a muffin and coffee, and then you leave me too big of a tip.'
'I just don't understand you,' Alyssa answered.
'Sit down,' the man said.
'I'm working,' Alyssa said, sniffing.
'I'm your only customer. You can sit.'
Alyssa sat down across from the man and looked at him. He was wearing a white button-up shirt with a tie. His suit jacket was on the seat next to him. He had insanely blue eyes and dark hair, which was combed and gelled perfectly. He looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties, but Alyssa couldn't be sure.
'How old are you?' the man asked.
'Why aren't you in school?'
'I had to drop out of high school.'
'I figured as much,' the man said.
'What's that supposed to mean?' Alyssa asked, defensively.
'Calm down,' said the man. 'My name is Ethan Cohan. I have a proposition for you.'
'Oh really, and what is that?'
'Well, I work with my father at a law firm in New York City. Obviously, I come in here every day before catching the train into the city, and everyday you wait on me. I have been watching you.'
'You realize that you're making yourself sound somewhat creepy now, don't you?' Alyssa asked.
'Yes, but I'm not creepy. Just listen. You are a seventeen-year-old girl who is working as a waitress in a trashy diner and, I presume, living on her own. I don't know what your reasons are for your lifestyle, but I would like to help you get your life on track.'
'My life is on track. I have a job and a home and a boyfriend who I love.'
'But you're seventeen. You shouldn't have a job and a home and boyfriend. You should be in school.'
'So I would like to take you into my home. As you can probably tell, I have money. Everything will be provided for you. You will be able to quit your job here and go to school. Once you graduate, I will pay for college for you so you can have a real job.'
'Why would you do that for me?' Alyssa asked, quite confused.
'Because I was like you at one point. I dropped out of high school and left my family to go off on my own and live my own life. I didn't realize that in order to live a good life, you need an education and you need to go to college to really be set. I see you in here everyday, and I feel sorry for you, that no one is taking care of you. I don't know anything about you or your past, but I know that you need my guidance.'
'I need your guidance? I don't think so. I am very grateful for the tips that you leave me everyday, but I have been taking care of myself for years, even before I was living on my own. I know what I'm doing. I don't need your charity.'
'Alyssa,' the man said, glancing at her nametag. 'You don't know what you need. You are too young to know. Please, at least consider my offer.'
'I don't understand. What is the proposition? What do you want from me in return of letting me live with you?'
'You must graduate high school. Whether or not you go to college is your choice, but if you are living with me, you will go to high school.'
'Look, you're being very nice, but I haven't been in school in over a year. It would take me forever to graduate, if I could even keep my grades high enough to pass. I'm not a school kind of person.'
'Neither was I, but look at me now. Alyssa, please think about what I am saying to you,' Ethan said. With that, he stood up, put on his jacket, picked up his briefcase, threw a twenty dollar bill onto the table, and left.
Alyssa picked up the money and put it into her pocket, then cleared off the table, deep in thought.