Reading & Writing, Short Stories

The Life of Janie

Welcome to the life of Janie!

This will be a weekly series of short stories dedicated to Janie and her life as she attempts to navigate a new normal and find herself. I will share a new passage every Saturday and it is my hope that you will all share your insights and wishes for Janie along the way. If you have ideas for her life or travels, perhaps a romantic interest you find suitable, drop a comment and help guide her on her journey! For now, enjoy a look at Janie’s life…

Janie stopped at the first place she saw, weary and in desperate need of refuge. She’d been on the road for days, a desperate attempt to find peace and solace after her life got flipped upside down. 

It started with her dream job, a partnership that she had worked so hard for, one that had taken countless years of long days and even longer nights to achieve. She had been happy and thriving, and then a coworker who had it out for her planted seeds that couldn’t be stopped. The whole office now believed she had slept her way up the ladder, and though her boss could’ve easily proven that theory wrong, he hadn’t. He said nothing and let his public relations rep make statements for him, ones that made it seem as though he were the victim and had been coerced into making her junior partner. To make matters worse, her husband had refused to believe her side of the story and decided he “needed time”, whatever that meant. So now, she was jobless, her marriage was practically over and all she wanted was to escape and find herself again. So, she hit the road and didn’t stop until she was so tired she barely remembered her name.

She wasn’t exactly sure where she was, somewhere west of Wichita, but she was definitely still in Kansas. Considering she’d come from the suburbs of Memphis, she’d made killer timing, and though she’d hoped to pass through this state, she needed a rest. The outside of the bar was dinghy, though it might have been that daylight was fading and there was nothing but dirt and wheat around for miles. It looked more like an old home than a bar, with fading white paint and a large porch. The sign said Bo’s place, though she was pretty sure it was Bob and the other b was burnt out. She crossed the porch and stopped just short of the door. She took a deep breath, said a little prayer about not having to deal with people and walked inside. 

Much to her surprise, the bar was actually pretty empty. It was just after 8 P.M. on a Friday night and she hadn’t expected to luck out so well. There was the bartender, a couple sitting closely in the corner and two other patrons, but otherwise it was void of life. She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and began to relax a little. No one knew her, no one had reason to dislike her and she was safe here. Picking a booth in the corner farthest from everyone, she sat down and felt her body nearly melt. She was exhausted, but she was also in need of nourishment. As though sensing her thoughts, a waitress appeared out of nowhere. She ordered a coke, a bacon cheeseburger and double fries without a glance at the menu. The food appeared so fast she had little hope that it would taste even moderately good, but was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it was because of how hungry she was, but by the time the waitress had come to check on her, the plate was empty and she asked for another. 

The waitress chuckled and said, “Honey, I know Bob does a great job on these burgers, but are you sure you want another? That’s a lot of food for such a tiny thing!”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Janie said awkwardly. She didn’t like people questioning her and thought the slight about her weight was rude.

“Wow, you must have a great metabolism to eat so much!”

“I guess.”

“What brings you to these parts? We don’t get many passersby around here.”

“Just needed some food, thanks”

“Another heart attack coming up then.”

As the waitress walked away shaking her head Janie laid hers down on the table. She was so tired, and it felt so good to relax into the booth with her belly full. She had no idea what she was going to do next but right now it was nice to be in the moment. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, set on taking a moment to recompose before the nosy waitress came back. 

“Honey, honey wake up.”

Janie opened one eye and grimaced as she realized she was drooling on the table. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep.

“I’m sorry, I must’ve been more tired than I realized. How long have I been asleep?”

“Well, the last call was an hour ago.”

“Wow. I’m so sorry, and my food too, ugh.”

“Oh you poor thing, it’s okay. I had Bob box up your food long ago. No sense in waking you when you clearly seemed to need the rest. How are you feeling? Where are you staying?”

Janie blinked.

“Sorry honey, it’s part of the job, and my nature, to be inquisitive. I can see it makes you nervous and I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s alright, I’m just not used to being asked so many questions.”

“Well, if you stick around these parts you best get used to it.”

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, actually.”

“Where are you staying tonight?”

“I had planned to find a hotel after I ate, but clearly that plan didn’t work out well. Can you tell me where the closest one is?”

“Miles away. I doubt you’ll be making it there tonight. Why don’t I make up the room in the back of the bar for you?”

“Oh no, I couldn’t impose!”

“Now honey, it’s not an imposition at all, promise. Let me just go have a quick word with Bob and then set things up.”

Janie wasn’t accustomed to people being so nice to her and this woman was equal parts nosy and helpful. She just wasn’t sure what to make of it. As leery as she was she was equally exhausted and knew that it was best to say thank you and take the offer.

“That’s very kind of you, thank you.” 

The waitress walked away, stopping to speak to Bob for a moment before heading into the back through the kitchen. She watched as Bob glanced her way with a slight scowl before turning around and finishing what he was doing. Just then the waitress came back and ushered Janie out of the booth and into the back. Stepping through the kitchen and into a tiny, but clean space, she glanced around. It was small, holding nothing more than a full sized bed in the corner, a night stand and a very small chest of drawers. She had a feeling this might be the room Bob slept in on nights he was tired and didn’t want to ask if she was taking his space for the night. 

“I hope this is alright for you.”

“Oh yes, thank you, it’s perfect for the night.”

“I’m glad. Well, Bob and I will be upstairs if you need us for anything.”

“Oh, you and Bob are -”

“Oh gosh no! There are a couple spare rooms upstairs, as this used to be a house way back when. Bob and I are nothing of that sort. Why honey, he could be my son!”

Janie chuckled. She hadn’t paid much attention to Bob and truthfully, she didn’t look closely at this wonderfully nosy woman, who she didn’t even know. “I’m sorry, I just realized you aren’t wearing a name tag and I don’t even know your name.”

“Oh, well I’m Denise.”

“Nice to meet you, officially, I’m Janie. Thank you again for your kindness.”

“Well Janie, I’ll let you get some rest, and it’s our pleasure. You sleep well now.”

Denise walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her. Janie sat down on the bed and took a deep, cleansing breath. Maybe it was this sudden kindness that she hadn’t gotten much of lately, the good food, or maybe just because she was so bone deep tired, but she felt at ease for the first time in a long time. Peaceful. As though she’d finally made it to where she needed to be. She laid down on the bed and closed her eyes to rest, wondering if this was the place she was meant to find herself. 

That’s it for this week! What do you think Janie should do? Should she stay in this place we know nothing about yet? Or should she move on and find somewhere new? Let me know in the comments!


2 thoughts on “The Life of Janie”

  1. If I were Janie, I’d be a bit sus about the whole thing. But then I watch a lot of horror movies that start out like this. Great story so far!🙂


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