Author's note: The was my first omnisicent view piece. I wrote this based on all the corruption and sadness in the world.
Good Morning, HunThe diner was one where the waitresses all called you “hun”. It didn’t matter whether you were new in town or had been born in Dr. Schultz’s office. Everyone was hun, just like everyone was “neighbor”. No matter if you lived on one side of town or the other (not that the town was very big in the first place), you were a neighbor. You would walk into the diner, be greeted with a “Hi, neighbor!” by the men at the breakfast bar, and then be asked, “What can I start you to drink, hun?” by your waitress.
“Vanilla chai,” Jessica White answered. The waitress looked slightly confused. “Never mind, just an orange juice.” Annabelle knew what a vanilla chai was; she had given Jessica that look only because she was alone. No one was ever alone in the town. Jessica White was new though. A fresh run away from the nearest city, starting over with her aunt and uncle.
“Be right back, hun,” Annabelle smiled, and traipsed away with poise of a ballerina. Jessica sat back in the booth and pulled out her phone. No new messages from Priscilla or Jonathan White, not a surprise. Oh, how she detested the couple. They were a combination of mean, abusive, and ignorant, all rolled up and stuffed into a casing of downright beautiful. Yes, they were good looking, and therefore, so was Jessica.
Upon entering the diner, she had turned the heads of the young, high school football team sitting at the table in the corner, their usual spot on Sunday mornings. Ignoring them, Jessica had taken an unoccupied booth next to the window. She wanted to erase any memories of Priscilla and Jonathan, and people-watching helped. In the town there were enough people to watch on Sunday mornings that your head spun. Sunday was the Sabbath day, but also the yard sale, lemonade stand, dog walking, group running day.
“Here ya go, hun,” Annabelle said. She placed the orange juice on the left corner of Jessica’s placemat. “Anything to eat?”
“Two slices of wheat toast and an egg over easy,” Jessica ordered. “Please.”
“Comin’ right up, hun.” Annabelle marched off, writing the order as she walked away. Jessica was Jessica. Never Jess or Jessie. That’s what Priscilla called her when she was feeling mean. Now, Camille, Priscilla’s sister and therefore Jessica’s aunt, had always offered Jessica a place to stay. She had been reminded of this last Thanksgiving when Priscilla sent a fork across Jessica’s cheek, causing a permanent scar. Camille had told Jessica multiple times that day that she was and would always be welcome at their home.
Not that Priscilla minded Jessica leaving. She hadn’t cared when Jessica threatened to leave before, so Jessica took no care in telling Priscilla that she was actually leaving. That was Friday. Jessica had hopped on the train, then into a cab, and arrived in town on Saturday, yesterday.
“Eat up, hun. You look awfully sad. This’ll cheer ya right up,” Annabelle smiled and placed the food in front of Jessica, doing her best to be as nice as possible. And Annabelle was nice, she as one of the most kind-hearted people in the town. Jessica nodded and swallowed hard. She wasn’t hungry, but hadn’t eaten since Friday and would need her strength. Today was the day she explored the town’s famed Donaghy Forest.
Camille and Eric’s daughter, Beth, had told Jessica about the forest last night before they fell asleep. Beth whispered tales of demons and murderers and other criminals hiding in Donaghy Forest, set to pounce at any time. The tales wrapped themselves around Jessica’s brain and didn’t let go, a boa constrictor, choking her until she gave in.
Jessica finished eating and left a twenty on the table, more than enough to cover the bill. Then, she set out for the forest, against Beth’s earlier pleading.
“You’re kidding. You can’t go. You’ll die. Like little Wendi Smith,” Beth warned.
“Who’s Wendi Smith?” Jessica asked, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.
“She was seven. She went for a walk in the forest and never returned. Some call it Smith’s Forest now, in her honor.”
“That’s made up. A fairy tale for the ill-humored.”
“It’s not! I knew her… Okay, well I didn’t know her. But Camille did! You can ask!”
Then Camille interrupted from the kitchen, “I did not, Beth Marie. Now stop spinning lies and eat your oatmeal.”
That had set in stone Jessica’s desire to venture into Donaghy Forest. The name hardly sounded foreboding, and the pleasure of possibly finding Wendi Smith and solving the mystery tempted Jessica to the extreme. She always had the longing to solve mysteries. Watching those detective cartoons as a child and reading all the Betty Lee detective stories (fictional as they may have been) drove Jessica’s passion for mystery.
The forest was at the most-southern point of the town. The entrance was well-marked with graffiti skulls and warnings of “Do not enter!” and “Life at risk upon entering!” Jessica marched onward past the signs and into the forest. The deeper she walked, the weirder she felt. As if eyes were on her every motion.
A branch cracked.
Jessica turned, and to her complete surprise, saw Priscilla. Stumbling, and clearly intoxicated, Priscilla closed in.
“What do you want?” Jessica screeched. Her heart beat fluttered up to panic mode. Her adrenaline kicked in, and she flew at her mother with near-lightning speed. But Priscilla was ready. She drew out of her pocket the sharpest tool in her kitchen. The butcher’s knife.
And that knife was the last thing Jessica White saw.