How had she found herself here, on the stoop outside her father's apartment, once more. What in the world had made her come out there at three A.M., once again. Fate, fate must really have it out for her, she thought bitterly. "The bitch." she muttered, biting her bottom lip slightly. Silently the wind whipped at her, cold and bitting. December in the small Ohio town was always so confusing. One moment it would be warm and one would feel almost hot, then the next you would be chilled to the bone. She shivered just thinking about it. Tonight was one of those nights. One where no matter how many layers you wore, nothing could keep you warm.

In the distance, a car moved along the back country road. It's headlights lit up the dark before moving on, ever forward. The driver paid no attention to the young girl out all alone. He did not see her plain brown hair, partly hidden under a tobagon hat, a scarve hanging limply around her neck. It was not in his business to see her hunched over in a large, used, worn coat, her knees shaking as she tried to move to gain any warmth at all. None of this, none of this was his business, and he just drove on into the night. Perhaps he had a family to get home to. Atleast, Resa imagined he might. To tell the truth, in the town of less than five hundred, she knew no one. That car, and the person behind the wheel were just another faded memory in her mind.

Shaking slightly, she rubbed her arms together. Making the cloth move against her skin, trying to generate any kind of heat. Any kind. She stood, large boots clomping on the old wooden stairs that made up the stoop as she descended. There was not much to do in this town besides walk, and walk she did. Resa Jameson walked everywhere. From the small dollar store next to the laundry mat, to the library located in the center of the town. Oh, how she loved to walk. Past the old creek that went all the way through the town, to the Common's, the apartment complex she lived in with her father. Anywhere and everywhere she walked.

So it was at three am on a cold December morning that she decided to go out. Winter break had started and no one really went outside during that time. Sure, younger children would go out in the snow and throw snowballs or build forts once in a while, but the inhabitants of this tiny village stayed inside more once the cold set in. Heading across the black asphalt of the Common's parking lot, she moved towards the road. Asphalt soon turned into concrete under her feet as she stepped onto the curb surrounding what little piece of lawn there was. Snow met her boots as she moved, crunching under her weight. To make the quiet disappear, she began to hum a small nonsense tune to herself, passing the time as she headed towards the edge of town.

Far out on the outskirts of her village sat a small diner. It was centered in an old field, just next to the intersection heading towards the next town. The town over was not much bigger than hers, more spread out in the rolling hills and high cliffs that dotted her region of Ohio, but more people lived and worked there. It had a Wal-mart, thus it was now a small bustling metropolis. The thought made her smile slightly. "Metropolis." she snorted. "No way in hell." Cutting through the old field she came to the back door of the diner. It was locked.

Far out on the outskirts of her village sat a small diner. It was centered in an old field, just next to the intersection heading towards the next town. The town over was not much bigger than hers, more spread out in the rolling hills and high cliffs that dotted her region of Ohio, but more people lived and worked there. It had a Wal-mart, thus it was now a small bustling metropolis. The thought made her smile slightly. "Metropolis." she snorted. "No way in hell." Cutting through the old field she came to the back door of the diner. It was locked.

Most people in the town did not like Fran and Andy, but Resa did not care. She knew better than anyone that these were good people. Fran worked almost all day at the Diner, serving anyone and everyone who came in with the same smile and warmth one would get from your mother. Andy worked along side Fran, cooking and flipping some of the most delicious burgers you could eat. He was a master fry cook, a Hash Slinger as he liked to call himself. Nothing tasted like Andy's cooking, a fact that Fran would regal to anyone who cared to listen.

"Muy 'usband is the bes' damn cook ya ever did see!" she would smile, her accent betraying her as a large city girl. Yet it was not just puffery on Fran's part. Around Easter there were pastries galore in the place, everything from danishes to Angel Food Cake squares stuffed with three kinds of filling. Handmade donuts always topped the shelves, and thousands of brownies were made each month. All by Andy. Just the thought of sinking her teeth into one of his light and fluffy donuts, tasting the creamy hand whipped filling fill her mouth with each bite was enough to make her mouth water. They always had extra's for her. Something Andy claimed was left over from the morning but was still warm and fresh, or something Fran had forgotten to set out and was "going to throw out anyways". Resa smiled to herself, those two always took care of her. When Fran was too busy with customers, Andy would have her in the back, letting her sit on the small counter near the stove, regaling her with stories from his time in 'Nam, or his home back in the bayou.

"Mais Cher, the joie de vivre back der was nottin more than a hot an warm Beignet!" he would grin, telling her of all the wonderful dishes that he grew up with. Everything sounded so good, the way he described them often had her mind reeling from them. He told her every detail, from the smell of the spices in a hot pot of gumbo, to the taste of Pralines as you put them in your mouth, the brown sugar and pecan treat just melting away on your tongue. "Someday, I'mma take chere Fran out der. Leave all dis hard werk behind us, eh?" Andy would always laugh after that, his large frame shaking slightly from the force of it. He always promised that, and from what Fran had told her, he had been promising that since she married him. Yet, he was an old man now, and she was no spring chicken herself. Still they worked everyday, putting everything into the small diner that had, hoping to one day retire in Batoun Rouge. The way Andy often told it, it sounded like paradise.

The cold making her fingers ache, Resa opened the glass door of the diner, setting off the bell that let Fran know she needed to wait on someone else. As usual, Fran's head lifted from the cash register, a smile gracing her face as she realized who it was.

"Dear lord child!" she moved over to her, wrapping an old and wrinkled hand about Resa's shoulders. "What in the lord's name are ya doin' out in weather like that?" Lifting the part of the bar that seperated the back part of the diner from the front, Fran pushed her towards Andy. "Darlin, Resa is here. Make her somethin warm would cha?" Someone from the far back of the diner called out, raising a cup in the air. The international sign for "More please." Grabbing a coffee pot from the line of machines perking away constantly, she gave Resa a small one armed hug. "Good ta see ya Resa." At this she hurried off, grabbing a few plates along the way.

She moved into the small kitchen, sliding to the counter where she always sat. From his postion at the stove, Andy looked over his shoulder quickly. "Mais, Cher is cold weather eh?" he laughed boisterously, flipping a slab of meat over as he talked. She could hear the sizzle of the meat as it hit the heat, the oil crackling about it as the large metal spatula pressed it further into the metal. The heat wafted from the stove, warming Resa as she settled against the tiled wall. For a few minutes she listened as Andy rambled off some tale to her, only half listening, the other half of her mind just enjoying the heat. It was comforting, this feeling of warmth and joy. As Andy went on, she began to doze, slipping in and out of conciousness.

"Cher?" Andy's voice brought her back from the land of slumber, startling her. She bolted upright, having curled slightly into a ball on the counter. Andy stood before her, his spatula no longer in his hand, but now slipped into the front pocket of his white apron. Behind him stood Fran, her gray hair no longer in the bun it was in during her work hours. It must have been their break, as two cups of coffee were sitting on the counter, and from where she was sitting Resa could see no one in the booths. "You dun fell asleep." Andy sat down, his bulk making it hard for him to sit on the counter, forcing him to just rest against the tiled surface. "Is evuryting, a'right?" There was concern in his voice, something she did not often hear. Yes. Yes there was something wrong, but it was something no one would understand, not even Fran and Andy. Something no one would believe.

"Nah. I am just tired is all. Been up reading all night for the last few nights." she wiped away some of the sleep that had gathered in the corner of her eye. Fran spoke up, hands on her hips.

"That isn't right. You best be getting more sleep than that dear. You are only 18 for lord's sake! Don't be wearing ya body out till you're our age." she laughed lightly. One old and arthritic hand settled on her waist, worn flat by years of hauling plates and trays along. Her wrists were slightly swollen, making her hand seem almost like a caracature of itself. Resa knew that they must hurt her, the ache moving her hand caused, how difficult it must be to even lift something. Yet, as ever, Fran pressed on.

"Dun' have much ta go on, eh?" Andy smiled lightly, not bothering to hide the fact that he had been worried. This was heading in a bad direction, one she did not want it to go in, so Resa did the only thing she was good at. She thought of an excuse.

"Hey Fran...can you make me one of those special coffee's? I am in the mood for something sugary and caffinated to the top of my eye balls." she smiled lightly. Almost an instant after the words left her mouth, Fran was scooting her into a booth near the far end of the diner. It looked over the small man made lake in the field, giving her a nice veiw of the calming waters. Resa was still staring at these water's, still entranced by their movements and waves when Fran slid the large cardboard cup in front of her. It was getting to be early in the morning, so the early birds were starting to pile in. Old couples and trucker's just getting off the road poured in, taking up booths and Fran's attention.

Resa smiled as she watched Fran work about, flitting from booth to booth, almost like some worker bee. She flew over the tiled floors, taking order's and making smalltalk. Like lightening her hand wrote down the orders, seconds later they were strung on the small rotating line that fed them to Andy. Then it was back to work, filling mugs with delicious warm coffees and teas. From the small window blocking out the kitchen, she could see Andy hard at work. Pancakes flew from his spatula, flipping almost as if dolphins through the air before landing back on the griddle. The smell of eggs, scrambled, sunnyside up or plain filled the air. Warm bread joined the smells soon, as well as that of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Hash browns sizzling, and the smell of bacon joined the symphony of taste and smell created by Andy's hand.

She settled against the booth, one hand absently stirring the concoction before her. This..this was where she could think. No one tried to talk to her, no one talked about her. Words were nothing but mere thoughts in her head. They could do no harm.

Harm. She shivered, body involuntarily reacting from the memory of her words. Words were such trivial things to most. Things you could say and take back, as if the act of saying them did not bring them into this world.

She had learned the hard way what treating words as such could do. It had cost her everything. Her mother, and her unborn brother, her friends, her life. Her father's love. All of it.

For what seemed an eternity she stared out the window, sipping the sugary conconction in her cup between her idle stirring of its contents. Everything was alright as long as she was in her own head. Nothing could harm her there, nothing.

It was not until she heard the loud voice calling to her from outside the diner that she looked away from her reflection on the pond. Fran rushed past, moving towards the door to try and still the hatred of the newest arrival. With a small gasp Resa instantly knew who it was.

An old wind breaker was slipped on over his white t-shirt, hair mussed and uncombed, face shadowed with stubble. Wind at his back her father entered the diner. He growled lowly, looking around and ignoring the woman in front of him.

"If ya would sit down fer a moment we could figure this whole thing..." Fran talked smoothly, trying to get him to settle for the moment. Yet he ignored her attempts and yelled over her head.

"RESA! GOD DAMN IT GIRL I KNOW YOU ARE HERE!" his voice was loud and sloppy. With a small flinch she knew that he had been drinking once again.

"Sir, please sit down and we will.." Fran was cut off as the slap caught her across the face.

"Shut the fuck up you damn hillbilly whore." Her father cursed, looking around for her.

Resa sank into her seat, trying not to be seen. All she wanted was some time away from him and this kind of behavior. She could not stand it anymore.

Andy came charging from the back, spatula clanking as it hit the ground. With the force of a full grown bull he hit the man who had struck his wife.

"Jus' what in de hell do ya tink ya is doing to me wife?" he snarled, lifting her father off the ground in his massive hands.

"I am looking for my daughter you greasy swamp rat." Her father stared right into Andy's eyes, unfazed.

"She is not 'ere." Andy let him down, turning away to tend to his wife. Fran was leaning against a counter, trying to find something cold to put on her face before it swelled. Another costumer was also trying to help. Holding his milkshake glass against her cheek in a vain attempt to help.

"I know she is here. The little bitch is never anywhere else." He pushed past the others, evading Andy's grasp as he tried to stop him. Once he was past the counter it was not long before he saw her, ducked in the booth and trying in vain to hide.

"Aha!" with a small evil laugh he grabbed her, pulling her up by the hair. She bit her lip, trying not to cry out. "Thought you could hide from me here huh? Luckily one of the neighbors saw you heading to this grease trap." He leaned in to her face, breath stinking of booze and unbrushed teeth. "Time to come home."

At this time Andy and Fran rushed forward, Andy grabbing her father once again. Fran ran to her, trying to pull her hair from his grasp. They all talked at once, the words smashing and combining. Insults and whispers of comfort becoming one. Andy's threats of death to her father, Fran's plea's to let her go and her cooing that everything was going to be alright, and her father's insults and swears became too much. It was too many words.

"ENOUGH!" she screamed, tearing her hair from the grip of her drunk father. "Enough words! Everyone...just just...JUST FUCKING DISSAPEAR!"

The moment the words left her mouth she regretted them. Yet, it was too late. As if it had all been a dream, everything around her just vanished.