Audrey was despondent. Better days had come and gone, and this formerly blissful waitress had developed a bleak outlook. Cinnamon and ginger filled the air - scents that were known to please most patrons, but not her - not anymore. During her break, Audrey pondered all the dreams she had as a child, all the goals and fantasies she had not yet accomplished. Eventually the sentiment became ominous, as though the weight of reality was crushing her, pummeling her sore feet into the tiled floor. Feeling a bit light-headed, Audrey reached for a dark pint glass filled with carbonated water and corn syrup. Grasping the receptacle were long, elegant fingers, parched from bleach water, with chipped burgundy nails. Her hand shook lightly as she tilted the black liquid against her glistening red lips. It was two in the afternoon and the lunch rush seemed to be dying down.
"Just one more hour," she thought, attempting to envision the end of another stressful and oppressive shift.
"Keep on keeping on, and it'll be over before you know it."
Luscious blonde curls bounced freely just above her petite shoulders as she walked briskly toward a table of new patrons.
Morning came early, and Audrey did not feel adequately rested. Noisy traffic and chirping birds suddenly infiltrated her bedroom window, along with the piercing high-pitched laughter of children outside. On her way to work, Audrey stopped at the diner for some breakfast and coffee. Perusing the dining room quickly, Audrey chose a booth next to the window facing 5th Avenue, and sat down without removing her sunglasses or her zebra-print jacket. Questions about her past randomly loomed in her mind, many of them regarding squandered potential and fading dreams. Right when Audrey was about to open the menu, she was startled by a sudden blur of motion in her periphery. Someone flew down the the isle in an obvious hurry, swiftly dropping a small brown package on Audrey's table. The man was exiting through the back door by the time Audrey came to her senses and swung her head around to look. Unaware of what had transpired, Audrey instinctively lifted a folded corner of brown paper to reveal a neat stack of one-hundred dollar bills, about three inches thick. Vivid images of exotic beaches, pristine waterfalls, and infinite freedom immediately filled her mind, replacing the dismal contemplations of the previous moment. With an indescribable warmth welling up inside of her soul - some perfect mixture of excitement, adrenaline, happiness, and confusion - Audrey immediately buried the package in her purse and headed for the front door. Xanax and spare change rattled against the newfound parcel within Audrey's purse, as she dashed toward a parked taxi.
"You said it was on first street," a young woman barked into her cell phone as she clumsily barged into the diner. Zebra stripes adorned the women's jacket, and her curly blonde hair, much like Audrey's, bounced freely just above her shoulders as she sat down at a booth next to the window facing 5th Avenue.