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Who is Paige and Where has She Gone?
Paige stepped out of the car. The sultry summer air contrasted sharply with the driving wind, which blew her long dark hair into her dark blue eyes. She brushed the strands away hurriedly, yet she wasn't in a hurry, so why did she do that? She didn't know.
She noticed, in her peripheral vision, the crinkling of blowing leaves, a message from autumn a year past and a time machine to show the future. She became uneasy as she pulled her gaze across the empty parking lot, her eyes coming to rest on the happy visage of Ronald McDonald, paint chipped, washed by rain, and buffeted by wind. Why she was uneasy did not occur to her.
She stretched her legs there, in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. Strange, she thought. What a contradiction.
Her mother ushered her toward the door. Paige's disquiet grew as she surveyed the interior of the fast food eatery. It was brightly lit, yet not invitingly so, and somewhat dingy. The tables were not wiped, nor was the trash cleaned of the floor. Ketchup packets lay scattered on one table to the right of the door, the swivel chair still in slight motion. Their placement seemed random, haphazard, yet noticeable.
Her mother motioned her to sit.
'What would you like?' she asked hurriedly, yet not unkindly. The words broke the tenacious silence in the room, ruptured like a blister by a red hot needle. It was a sterile needle though, for quiet soon returned to the room, the mother's vocal chords discontinuing their ring.
Paige glanced at the menu over the counter, overlooking the fact that there was no one manning it. Drab, tired eyes scanned the delicious items on the menu, words fading into letters as she stared, letters into blobs that ran together like mayonnaise on a rainy sidewalk. She waved her hand, uncommitted.
'Combo number four, I guess,' she whispered, making no attempt to make herself heard.
'Are you sure you want that, dear?' Paige's mother asked for affirmation. 'Wouldn't a small salad be nice? It's probably'more healthy.' The mother needled, nervously, bitterly, regretfully.
'No, damnit, I want the number four!' Paige shouted excitedly, exhausted. As her mother glance around furtively in a blank room, ready to dissuade embarrassment, only to notice there was no one in the horrid place, and breathed a huge sigh of potential relief, Page offered up a small, small, yet warm, smile. She felt happy, pleased that there was no one around to look shocked or disappointed, as they had all their life.
Her mother stalked meekly toward the yellow plastic counter, tears in her eyes.
'Ugh, why not,' Paige thought to herself as she sighed.
She got up, putting her hand in the small of her back to stretch her spine, which felt amazingly compact. She twirled in the air, imagining herself lost in writing, like a ballerina, then walked apathetically toward her mother. After several barely concealed glances of concern, of fear in eyes, and before Paige's mother could open her mouth to utter words of complete nonsense, a man shuffled to the counter, taking position behind a peeling cash register.
An unpleasant smell, which seemed to originate from the man, was wafted to Paige's nostrils by several large white-bladed fans overhead. She scrunched her nose in disgust, yet if her mother was disgusted, she showed no symptoms of such an infectious disease.
Paige noticed that the man's skin had a grey tint, and his long fingers, which implied dexterity even though all his movements were all slow and calculated, were pale, as if he had been wringing his hands. Yet in this case, as Paige stared, perplexed, at the man's hand, the proper skin color never returned. She opened her mouth, her mind a turmoil of ideals, morals, and airplanes, and she opened her mouth, ready to say the unthinkable, to asked the banned question why. Her mother stomped on her foot, and Paige turned rapidly, spinning on heel as she had seen characters in action flicks do. She walked back to her seat, noticing for the first time its absolute absurdity, its plane grayish plastic completely out of place in the predominately yellow environment.
Paige slouched back in her seat, picked up a slat shaker, examined it, then thought disgustedly, as children, mere children, in a classroom philosophized, Who Am I, and Where Have I Gone.