The young woman rents the upstairs of a house, which means she gets two bedrooms and a bathroom. She buys a hot plate and three crockpots, tells her friends she’s running a restaurant called the Underground Upstairs. They rarely pay with money, just booze. The landlord greets the woman with a garbage bag filled with empty beer and wine bottles.
“This is your last warning,” he says. “No more alcohol. How can one woman drink so much? Get help!”
* * * * *
The man and his son get out of the car and head across the parking lot to the Montessori school. The door isn’t shut properly, so the father walks a few steps to reclose the door. The young woman sees the empty parking space, but not the man’s son.
* * * * *
The young teacher drives her van down a mountain road, her van filled with students. They’re returning from a hike in the canyon. The student sitting in the front seat next to the teacher laughs, saying the teacher sings just like Janis Joplin. The brakes go out. The student asks if they’ll be okay, and the teacher nods her head while she stares down the curves. Finally, the brakes return. The next day, the mechanic at the school says he’s been meaning to fix those brakes. “That must’ve been a hell of a ride!”
Diane Payne’s most recent publications include: Map Literary Review, Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House Quarterly, Superstition Review, Burrow Press, Dime Show Review, Lime Hawk, and Cheat River Review. She has work forthcoming in The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Crab Fat, Souvenir Literary Journal, Outpost 19, and a chapbook with Blue Lyra Press.