Authors: Katrina Penaflor
Under the Surface
Under the Surface
Copyright 2015 by Katrina Penaflor.
rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or copied
without the author’s written consent, except for brief quotes of passages for
book is a work of fiction, any resemblance to places, events, or people are
design by Sophia Penaflor and Katrina Penaflor
photograph of girl by Sophia Penaflor
To Sophia and Angeline
long hair floats around me. My clothes are slick and sticking to my chilled
skin. I open my eyes to the blue haze of the water. Silence. I’m
As a weight pushes against my chest my lungs constrict in pain, begging me to
take a breath—but I can’t. I want to swim to the surface. I
to the surface, but my body just won’t move. I sink. I panic. I think—this is
the moment I will finally drown.
you, God, for this random downpour of rain just as I reach my apartment.
Seriously, I love it, thank you.
up my pace and hurry up the stairs of my complex. I walk across the slim
catwalk on the second floor until I reach my door and go inside. I somehow
manage to successfully keep the groceries I
m carrying dry, but I soak every article of clothing I have on in
through my tiny living room and put my groceries away in the kitchen.
exhausted. Going shopping for food was just one of the many things on my list
to do today. I still have homework, laundry, and work later tonight. I check
the clock on the microwave, 7:15. I have just enough time for a nap I
walking the few feet from the kitchen into my bedroom, I strip off my damp
clothes and change into an oversized T-shirt.
lay in bed I look at the wet heap of clothing I left on the floor. I’ll deal
with that later. Right now, all I need is rest.
to the sound of my phone ringing. I check the caller I.D. and see that it’s my
friend Noel calling. She’s one of the first people I met when I moved here to
up on the third ring.
I say as I answer the call, my voice is still groggy from just
, where are you at right now?”
I can barely make the words
out on my end. It’s loud, really loud, wherever she is. I can hear music
blasting in the background.
just got up from a nap.”
need to come out with me tonight! I’m with some friends right now at the pub on
street, and I have some really cute guys here who want to meet
noise and what sounds like people shouting in the background.
can’t tonight, Noel. I have work in a few hours.”
hours? But it’s like nine-thirty right now! What time does your shift start?”
start at eleven, unfortunately.”
I just recently started working the closing shifts at a diner I
work at. I would have never agreed to these hours if I wasn’t so strapped for
cash. Fortunately, I only have to work late like this every few weekends, so it
doesn’t interfere with my classes.
’s completely criminal! How
can they force a sweet girl like you to be working so late when you should be
out on a Friday night with me? Come on, Emilie, I got started early tonight and
I want to see you. Blow off work and come have some fun!”
’s always looking to have a good time and
party. I wish I could be there with her, but calling out of work means giving
up a night’s pay and tips
something I want to do. “I’m sorry, Noel, but I really can’t. Maybe another
fine. But next time you are coming with me no matter what. Even if I have to
drag your ass out.”
laugh at her comment. “Okay. I promise.”
and try not to have too much fun working all—”
She’s cut off by loud noises of the bar and static replaces her
voice. I say her name a few times before the call drops.
decide to just hang up, and if she has anything else important to say, she’ll
call me back.
the rain outside, it’s warm in my apartment. I make sure to turn the one
ceiling fan in the living room on to try and cool down the place. Even on the
highest setting, I barely feel a thing. Fall in Rhode Island is surprisingly
warm right now, but nothing like the scorchers I faced in Nevada.
check the clock, 9:55. I have some time to get part of my homework done before
my shift at the diner starts. I pull out my sociology book and begin reading.
10:45, I finish tying my hair up in a high ponytail. My blonde, wavy tresses
are usually a hassle, but today it’s actually cooperating. I’m dressed in a
pair of blue jeans, some white Vans, and a white V-neck. The only real requirement
for my work “uniform”
white shirt and name tag. After I grab my purse, I make my way out the door and
down the steps of my apartment building.
place I live at is a bit rundown; the paint on my walls and on the outside is
peeling, and the appliances are severely dated, but the rent is cheap so I deal
lights in the parking lot burn a deep amber orange, and I reach into my purse
and grab hold of my pepper spray to feel safe while I walk at night. It’s my
usual protocol since I don’t have a car. Nothing bad has happened yet, but it’s
ingrained in me to take precaution.
walk to the diner takes about ten minutes, and I arrive, ready for the long
night ahead of me.
boss and night manager Maggie greets me in the break room as I’m taking my
apron out of my locker. She’s an older woman, maybe in her early fifties with
dark red dyed hair that goes to her shoulders.
baby girl, how’s it
, Maggie. A bit tired but I’ll be alright.”
classes going good at your new school? I know it just started, but how are you
they’re going good. The class sizes, especially in lectures, are larger than
the last school I was going to, but it’s been good. My work load hasn’t been
too bad either. I even managed to do some homework before I got here.”
that’s good dear. A good education is important for you. If it’s slow tonight,
I’ll try and wrap up early so you can get some rest.”
smile as a response. She always talks in such a gentle, calm voice, and is
considerate enough to ask about my schooling. I started working here around
three months ago, after I finished going to a local community college. She’s
helped me work my schedule around my classes in a way that I feel the least overwhelmed.
talking with Maggie I pull my notepad out of my apron and enter the dining area
to take my first table’s order.
man sitting there is dressed in a blue flannel shirt and a baseball cap. He’s
probably a truck driver or another profession that has him traveling late. The
crowd is always the same this time of night: truck drivers, people passing
through town, and drunk college kids. He looks tired, so I greet him with a
sir, my name is Emilie and I’ll be your waitress this evening. What can I get
wrinkles his brow as he takes in the menu. “I’ll have a black coffee,”
the coffee tonight?”
he contemplates. “And the
corned beef hash as well.”
down his order.
sounds good. I’ll have that right out for you.”
hands me the menu and I go to place it behind the counter.
enter the kitchen, and the area smells of greasy fries and hamburgers cooking.
Frank, the diner’s night cook, is his usual cranky self when I see him.
another order for you, Frank,”
clip it onto the rack with all the rest,”
he grunts, while continuing to scramble eggs on the flat top.
the ticket onto the tourney and turn the corner after leaving the kitchen to
enter the counter where the servers prep the drinks. I grab the pot of coffee
and fill a cup for the man I first waited on tonight.
into Farrah, another waitress, on my way back out to the dining area.
place is already filling up. Looks like heading out early won’t be an option
says to me.
stifle a groan. “Seriously? The place was empty like five minutes ago when I
started my shift.”
massive group of college kids just walked in, and they’re all trashed.”
It’s barely passed eleven.”
must have started early tonight.”
She shrugs, then turns to fill her drink orders.
enter the dining area and place the cup of coffee on the man
responds after taking a sip of the coffee.
re welcome. It
’ll still be a few minutes on
that hash you ordered.”
he smiles. He still looks
tired and a little worn out. Aren’t we all when we’re working this late? I nod
my head in response then leave to take another
booth in the corner of the restaurant is my next stop. It’s U-shaped and molds
around the corner. And of course it’s completely packed with a bunch of loud
I mumble under my breath as I
head over to take the group’s orders.
Emilie, I’ll be your
She was fucking perfect, what the hell was wrong with her?”
didn’t take her home with me because that chick was bat-shit crazy.”
cares if she’s crazy? She was all over you! And begging you for a threesome
with her roommate.”
. Excuse me for not wanting to sleep with another
that last guy’s comment, everyone at the table bursts into laughter.
lovely conversation has been going on while I’m trying to take the table’s
order. I’m not even sure anyone has heard or noticed me standing here yet.
decide to do an overly dramatic, loud cough in hopes of getting their
attention, “Eh hem!”
eyes are on me.
speak up. “Now that I finally have your attention; my name is Emilie, and I’ll
be your server this evening. Can I start you off with any drinks?”
in a blue and white striped polo eyes me up and down before saying, “You can
start me up with more than a drink, baby,”
he flashes me a cocky smile while his friend next to him laughs
and pats him on the back.
damnit, show the girl some manners,”
says a guy with pale skin and a red V-neck shirt. “Please excuse
my friend here, we don’t usually let him out of the house.”
He smiles to reveal a row of
perfectly straight, white teeth.
laugh and say, “It’s alright, really. So drink orders?”
think we’ll all have water.”
Fuck no. Give me a beer!”
’t serve alcohol here, sorry,”
man, okay fine. I
I’ll have a water.”
then, five waters. I’ll be back in a sec’ to take your meal orders.”
I walk away from the table and
back to the drink stand. I pour five cups of water and quickly grab the corned
beef hash for my first table and load it onto my tray.
up to my first table again, “Here’s your corned beef hash. Can I get you
no that’s it for now. Thanks.”
no problem, enjoy.”
the tray of waters over to the group of drunk guys, and notice that the group
of five has gone down to three.
guess I grabbed too many waters,”
s cool, we
ll still taken
Eric and Justin left to go back to the bar.”
Red shirt says to me.
then, so boys, what will it be?”
shirt is the first one to answer, “I’ll take a cheeseburger, no onions or
the guy to the left of him.
to the right of the booth to take the last guy’s order. But I’m not so sure
that is going to be possible because he is
lying face down on
wearing a black T-shirt that stretches over the muscles of his arms. His wavy,
brown hair is so dark it’s nearly black, and his whole appearance looks
is that guy okay?”
pointing my pen in the direction of the passed out guy.
yeah, he’s fine. Just completely wasted, you know the usual. Some food will do
the guy sitting next to him.