Chapter 1

Maggie woke up as she did every day for the past three years and followed a very strict routine. She went into the kitchen and put on a fresh pot of coffee. While the coffee brewed, she went into the bathroom and brushed her teeth. She then went directly to the refrigerator and brought out the milk: Carnation milk. It reminded her of her childhood, her childhood when she was still a little girl.

Coffee in hand, she sat at the computer and checked her email. She went on Facebook and lurked, as she came to call it, because she seldom posted anything. Yet she felt connected. She read several comments and then realized she had to get to work.

She showered and then she carefully planned what she would wear. She went through her closet filled with solid colored t-shirts and plain skirts. Everything in her closet looked the same. Today she chose a pastel colored skirt and a white t-shirt. She found her pink sandals. Perfect! She thought to herself. Maggie liked to look neatly put together but she did not like to attract attention. Shoes were her little pleasure. After a few more minutes, she was ready to walk out the door. She grabbed her purse, her IPod, and her book. She was on the sidewalk before she knew it.

For three years, Maggie followed the same route to work. She could do it with her eyes blindfolded. There was comfort in her routine. Nothing unexpected. She saw the same people and the same dogs being walked. She carefully made her way to the bus stop and waited, careful not to make eye contact with any one there. Soon the bus would be there and she could bury her head into her novel. The bus ride was a quick fifteen-minute ride.

She worked at a bakery in the shopping center in town. This was the main source for shopping in the neighborhood so it was always buzzing with activity. Maggie had to walk through the parking lot to make it to Zara's Bakery. She had worked there for three years. John, the owner, was very kind to her. She kept her head down as she walked, her eyes darting at every sign of movement. She was very aware of the people around her and could sense any incoming cars even at a distance.

As she neared the bakery, John was outside. He was sweeping the entrance to the storefront. He looked up, saw Maggie coming toward him, and gave her a big wave hello. Maggie smiled. Every weekday, for three years, she had looked forward to this smile. She approached the entrance, exchanged pleasantries, and walked inside.

The new girl was already there. She was not very friendly. In fact, she liked to boss Maggie around and took advantage of her shy nature. Maggie put on a timid smile and said good morning. She went to the back and put on her apron. She washed and then dried her hands. The new girl told her to hurry up: "There's a customer waiting." Maggie looked up to see an older man standing in front of the counter. She hurriedly went over to him and began to take his order.

This was a very busy bakery; customers filled it purchasing breads and assorted pastries. Many just came for the coffee during their breaks from their retail jobs. This delighted Maggie. They loved the coffee and she made it.

The hours went by quickly as they had for three years and she seldom got a break. Maggie did not mind. She found comfort in the smell of flour and fresh pastries out of the oven. And, she loved making coffee! This was her perfect job. Most of all, at the bakery she could control her interactions with people. If they became too chatty, she could claim she had work to do in the back. She felt safe.

And she hadn't felt safe in a long time.

Soon her workday would be over and she would follow the same path she followed every day for the last three years.