After driving for over an hour, Eve’s face was smudged from the streaming tears that were finally under control. She didn’t know where to go, but did recognize one thing. She couldn’t go back to her home. Everyone, but her small group of friends made her ill. “Conchita. How could they do that to you?”
Watching the men with her husband in the lead lift the woman’s body into the van had been a turning point for her. That, and serving dinner to her rapist had sent her over the top. Her mind was spinning while compiling a strategy that she’d use to change her life. Eve was in such deep thought that she didn’t realize where she was. It was a little past midnight before she recognized the buildings around her, the district she’d been to just a day ago. She passed the street where she’d seen the doctor. Up ahead was where she’d walked, “The coffee house. I know it must be over here.”
Bending forward as she slowly drove down the deserted street, she strained her eyes looking for the peculiar dwelling. Finally, she parked the car where she knew the coffee house had to be. She stepped out into the night and stood, staring at the front of the building. It was an abandoned fire house with a sign that read Engine House No 5 over the large arched garage doorway. The building was old, made from brick. It had been kept up nicely, but it was its ambiance, architectural design that filled Eve’s insides with hope. She sensed warmth from within herself in the cool night air, a safe and welcome sensation she needed so desperately. Hearing a noise, she turned to look.
A short distance away, she saw the stairway that led to the subway system. Like before, there was a faint glow from some yellow lights below. Almost in a trance, she followed the sunny rays, and soon found herself below the street standing in front of the ladies room. Without hesitation, Eve turned the knob and entered the room where she proceeded to clean her face, wash away the pain and anger from the evening. The door had automatically closed behind her, giving her privacy where the peaceful feeling saturated through her system. No fear. Only harmony. Looking into the mirror, she felt presentable and turned to the door.
She stood looking at her portal, hoping for it to open and expose the room with an invitation for her to enter, leaving her ugly life behind. Laughing at herself, she said, “So I have to do this myself, huh? No magic until I get to the other side?” Then a blow of anxiety struck her, “What if you’re not there? It may destroy me if you are not there.” She slowly reached for the brass knob and turned it, terrified that it wouldn’t take her to her enchanted Bohemian world.
Eve heard the chatter, smelled the coffee and scones. Elated, she stepped into the dreamlike expanse. Within seconds, she felt the grip on her forearm, the waitress who had been so kind to her before.
“Good to see you so soon, Eve. Come, I’ll show you to your booth.”
“How do you know my name? I mean, you told me yours, but…”
The woman stopped and grinned. “Don’t you remember, Honey? I asked and you replied. You really were distraught last time.” Laughing, she led the way. “Shall I get you the same as usual?” Donna had a habit of asking questions, but delivering her chosen outcome before people could answer. She ushered Eve to the same booth she’d had before. “I know what you want, honey. Give me a few minutes. I do believe we have some scones about to come out of the oven. Your timing has been very good, I must say.”
Eve sat scanning the room as she’d done before. It was as if she was in a museum. There were so many paintings, photos, interesting artifacts to study. And of course, the old tree with its tentacle-like branches. She quickly leaned to her side which gave her a view of the ladies room where she could see that the tree had begun its growth over the door as before. It took some time before she overheard the conversation in the next booth, but when she realized who it was, she was elated. The events that had taken place in the past hours had given her strength. Without thinking, she stood to face Claire and Rachel. Looming over their table, she appeared taller, felt resilient. Seeing she had their attention, she spoke.
“Excuse me, Claire Winslow. I need your help.”
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