Entry A-2: “Autumn Leaves — I”
After a short drive, Meridian and Elise arrived at I’m Sorry’s parking lot. Meridian felt like treating her little sister to something nice for making it through the semester without failing every grade.
Meridian stopped quite far away despite the vast parking lot being empty. This gave Meridian some time to mentally prepare for the experience, and Elise some time to skip around. Win-win.
I’m Sorry was drawing near. The closer they got, the more Meridian slowed her pace, as if that would stop I’m Sorry from happening. Her little sister kept wistfully skipping ahead, urging her to keep up.
I’m Sorry’s gravity was too strong. She was going to get sucked in.
Meridian held her breath as she pushed forward. It didn’t help—the sticky smell of breakfast colonized her olfactory system.
Meridian took the first step onto the almost medical-grade ceramic tiled floor. The walls stained with an ambiguous oil, dripping onto the red cushioned seating lining it. Disparate table and chair sets dotted the area, many still adorning dirty dishes. The signature of a dying Americana. Meridian’s gaze locked on the uncharacteristic sea of lime-green wireframe cubes that seemed to inhabit a portion of the diner. None of the patrons seemed to mind this mess.
Meridian followed the server to their table. As they made their way through the diner, she observed the other patrons. Their faces were difficult to describe.
The sisters plopped down on the seat, opposite each other and listened to the server explain their restaurant's concept, as is customary of this place. Elise had a genuine smile on her face. Meridian didn't really care.
There was a green booklet in front of her. opening the menu, it was blank. She looked to her little sister for an answer, but she was already busy picking between “smiling banana split” and “chocolate delight”. Turning the page, she let out a sigh of relief. The contents were on the next page. It was completely filled with a random series of numbers. She had a difficult time choosing.
Meridian felt sick after the meal at I’m Sorry. The complimentary coffee was oily; she felt uncomfortable with what she had just consumed. Her little sister looked content, staring at the ceiling. Meridian did not have time to see what was so exciting; she was impatiently waiting for the server to come back with her credit card. The cook and server were having a leisurely chat in the kitchen. They should work harder.
After Meridian semi-lucidly scribbled her signature on the bill, sis wanted to sign it too. Her handwriting wasn’t very good, and she increased the tip. Does she know who’s paying for this? Meridian needed to get out of here before anything else bad happened. Stepping out, she immediately sobered up as the cool autumnal air filled her lungs. At that moment, she knew what she needed to do.
The minivan hummed as they made their way down Main Street. Elise pointed out how all the trees were painted with yellows, reds, and the occasional purple. Meridian questioned if this was normal.
Meridian pulled into the town’s only gas station. The sign announcing its appearance had since long gone out, leaving just the text “A oil” to glow with its neon. Whoever worked here did not seem to bother with getting paid, as they were nowhere to be found. While waiting for the attendant to come back Meridian paced around. Her eyes fell on a rack carrying a couple of tools. She needed a new shovel since the last one “broke”.
After waiting for 15 minutes, she decided it was enough. She got in the car and left the mystery of A Oil behind.
Driving out of the valley, the wind picked up, blowing leaves about. The road was paved with their warm colors. In the passenger seat half of Elise hung outside, trying to catch a couple of leaves for herself.
The leaf coverage would grow more intense as they got further from town. It was almost like Loomwood’s bustle was emanating a force-field that stopped autumn from advancing.
The road was now covered with autumn, only the gravel crunching under the tires to reveal the fact that they were on the right track. This prompted Elise to ask if they were lost. Her sister didn’t answer.