Dreaming Theory

Marines- Jun Liesel

I followed the five marines into the diner, which was dark inside, and the walls, stools, and tables were made out of smoke-stained wood, dark, resembling the atmosphere of the place. There was one window in the entire restaurant, on the front to the right of the door, dirty and curtainless.

A grimy clerk with five o'clock shadow glared at us as we walked in. The marine in front of me must have been more than six feet tall, and, looking straight ahead, all I saw was his back. I wanted to go, to be free, but then again I was pulled along behind the group. The counter the clerk stood behind was low, with white, gold-flecked lacquer tops. It dipped a few inches where you were to pay, as if that were necessary. At the normal level it hit me half way up my thigh.

To the left the floor dipped a couple of feet, with a bar counter sitting about a foot above the regular floor. Every place along the counter was set with a mismatching glass and a shadeless lamp. I sat at the end of the lowered bar, against the wall, in the shadows. Ignored. The five marines filled up the seats to my right, behind us were tables with rickety stools, chairs, and along the back wall, torn booths. On the back wall of the diner a hallway soon disappeared and ended too soon in black shadows.

The lowered area we sat in was divided into two by a clearing in the bar, with six chairs to each half. The clerk, who, apparently, moonlighted as a waiter, set six plates out in front of us, motley in size, shape, and pattern. Mine had a large chip in it, and Liza, the only other female in the group than me, had a tea cup placed in front of her. She snorted.

Next, the grizzly waiter tossed a grilled cheese sandwich onto each of our plates (and Liza's teacup) and set a mug of coffee (of cup or wine glass) in front of all of us. I was half afraid to drink it, for fear there was something in it. The sweet smell of rum wafted from the marines coffee, but when I sipped mine it was so bitter I nearly spit it out.

The marines joked and laughed, bringing the otherwise empty shop to life. I sat at the end, and ate, quietly, not daring to intrude their domain. They had seen things I had never dreamed, saved each other's lives. . .I could never compare, never fit in. Yet I was bound to them. I belonged to them, yet I did not belong with them.

Once or twice, the marine to my right, would glance at me, and ask if I was doing okay. Wordlessly, I would meet his eyes in answer, before his teammates called for another round of drinks and his attention was called away, He was tall, over six feet, broad shouldered, in his early thirties. At 6'6" he was seven inches taller than me. He never seemed to slow down in his drinking. In fact, he never seemed to get drunk at all.

My feelings grew more mixed than they already were when the waiter dropped a couple saucers next to us, one between the marine next to me (his name was John) and myself. On the saucers were long curls of rainbow colored candy, covered in sour crystals. Inside the rainbow colored candy-tape was a red, sweet, jelly. I tore off the end of the tape john and I were sharing, the outside sour and the inside mild and sweet. That was all I ate of the rainbow tape because the marines stood, John tapped my shoulder and catching my eyes.

When marines say it's time to go, you go.