Oakley was woken up the next morning by the sound of busy traffic outside her window, impatient business men and women honking their horns at drivers in front of them. Stretching out her arms, she slowly slid her legs out from under the covers and sat up at the edge of her bed. Her brown hair stuck to her neck, falling out of its messy bun at the top of her head. Her eyes felt as if they had been glued shut, that every opening of her eyelids was an effort.
She was stumbling down the hallway, following the rich scent of fresh coffee, when she found her aunt sitting at their kitchen table, newspaper in hand.
"Good morning, Oakley!" Her face brightened a little, but her expression looked a little off. As if she were watching her best friend marry a man she never quite got over. "How was your sleep?"
Oakley yawned, "It was good." If she were to mention the fact that she'd tossed and turned in her bed all night thinking about Ben, she would definitely upset her. Especially since today marked the third year anniversary of the accident...
"What are you reading?" Oakley said, gesturing to the newspaper. She reached up into the cupboard to grab a plastic cup, "I don't think I've ever seen you read those things. Into sports now, are you?"
"No," Aunt Laura chuckled humorlessly, "I'm looking at the job openings. Have you ever been to the Cockpit? They need a waitress."
Oakley muttered, "I'm pretty sure the Cockpit is a sleazy bar downtown, Laura. Why are you looking for a job, anyways? I thought Anna got everything sorted out at the library..?" She grabbed a new jug of milk from the fridge. She pulled off the ring around the cap, opening the garbage to throw it away when she noticed three recyclable coffee cups in the garbage. She looked up to see another one on the table in Laura's hand.
"Yes, Anna and I figured everything out. But it's actually Colin this time," her voice stuttered, "I, um, got fired from the bakery."
"What?!" Oakley almost spilled her milk. She turned to stare at her aunt, "You got fired from the bakery? Why? When? How?"
It was then that she noticed the dark circles around Laura's eyes, the pink puffiness of her nose and the pale tone of her face. "Last night. Colin said that he needed someone that could always be on their feet, and he noticed that around... this time of year... I tend to get a little sloppy. But, 'cakes can't be sloppy, Laura.'" She shrugged.
"But that's terrible!" She sat down with the woman, reaching out to hold her hand. "They can't do that! You have a right to be a little sloppy! You're still..." mourning the death of your child, she wanted to say. "having a bit of troubles getting the hang of things. Colin can't just fire you."
"It doesn't matter, Oakley." She sounded depleted, "I'm looking for a new job. One that will be better, hopefully."
She gave a sympathetic smile, "It will be better, a lot better. But, why don't you just take a break for a little while? I can get a job somewhere close. I know the Beef Buffet is always hiring. I could ask Leanne if she needs any help with the kids at the day home. Just take a break."
"No," Laura replied without hesitation, "No, Oakley. I couldn't let you do that. I still have to go to the library. I still have to work. It takes time to get a job, Hun. Maybe I'll go ask the Beef Buffet if they want to hire me."
"Fine," Oakley sighed, standing from her seat, "But I'm still going to ask Leanne about the day care. I can help out too y'know. I'm sixteen."
"Yeah, and you won't let me forget it." Laura laughed, "Aren't you supposed to go somewhere with Maxine today?"
"Oh shoot!" Oakley yelped, dashing to her bedroom. She fell onto her sheets, grabbing her phone and unplugging it from the charger wall.
How was it 1:30 already?
Her phone was clogged with messages from her best friend. "Where are you?" "Are you coming?" "You were supposed to pick me up a half hour ago." "Are you sleeping?" "Oakley, I swear to God if you're sleeping." "WAKE UP CHILD." "WHERE ARE YOU."
She quickly wrote a message back to let her know she'd be at her house in a half hour. She ran to the bathroom, soaping her hair in the sink and running leave-in conditioner through it with her fingers. She wrapped a towel around her head, speeding to her closet. She rummaged through her clothes, trying to find something decent to wear.
In the end, she picked out a pair of high wasted jean shorts with galaxy print leggings, a Twenty One Pilots tank top that she bought from her last trip to Hot Topic, and a loose unbuttoned black cardigan. She wasn't a fashionista, but it was comfortable enough. Her hair was down over her shoulders, still a bit damp from her hair dryer. Her lashes were coated with mascara, and her lips were glossed with cinnamon lipstick.
She sighed into her mirror. She wondered that if she knew how to put on make up like Max that maybe she'd be prettier. She knew that she could pull off cute, and her aunt always called her beautiful, but her aunt had been her adoptive mother ever since she was born; she couldn't help it.
Stepping back into the kitchen, she found Laura still sitting at the table, though she had traded out the newspaper for a puzzle book. Oakley hugged her goodbye, "Is Grandma awake yet?"
"I'm not sure. Though it might be a bad idea to go and check. In case she's reading." Laura gave her a cautious look.
Her Grandmother seemed to believe that reading was some sort of ancient ritual. For it to be interrupted would be for hell to unleash its wrath upon you, if hell were actually just an old lady with a threatening stink eye.
"Well," Oakley laughed, "I'll just leave her alone then. I'll see you later? Oh, what time do you have to go to the library today?"
"Oh, I have today off, thankfully. When you get back do you want to order some Chinese food? We could stay in and watch horror movies," Laura replied with a raise of her eyebrows. Even though the rings around her eyes showed how sleep deprived she was, and that she probably wouldn't make it through movie night, Oakley shrugged, "Sure. Sounds like a plan."
It only took a minute for her to pull on her high tops, grab her keys, and shuffle out the door. She wondered how much lecturing she would get from Max about being late. Oh, the joys of Max.