Taleforge logo

Catering the Lake

by BP | Score: 7650

The sand gave way beneath Jason's feet. The soft crunch of moist sand still sent chills through his body. Like mouse bones, soft and warm under a shroud of wet fur, crushed under the weight of some predator. His stomach lurched and for the third time that morning, he wondered if he would drop to his knees, empty the contents of his stomach. Though what he'd have left to give, he didn't know.

It had been fifteen years since Sarah drowned. Fifteen years any yet every detail of that day continued to linger after him like an obstinate smell. His clothes, his hair, his skin, trapped in the hairs of his nose. Every movement it seemed shook a piece loose, stirred up the old familiar smell, and reminded him of that Friday. The way she... 

"Plates!"

Jason was pulled from his memories. His eyes adjusted to the sun like he had been staring into the depths of a dark tunnel. When he got the alert at the beginning of the month that he'd be working an event at the lake, he tried to back on. But one of the challenges of not knowing many people at his company was there were few people he could turn to to trade shifts with. After nearly getting himself fired begging to be taken off the list, he'd given in and accepted.

Now that he was here, unemployment didn't seem so terrifying.

The setup was simple. Tables and chairs on the lakeshore for a Sunday brunch. Some rich kids had gotten married and they absolutely needed to make the ordeal a weekend affair. Jason had worked the entire event. Friday night wedding party dinner, the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception. Now, finally at the event's end, he could feel the effects of the weekend wearing on him.

For three nights--the catering crew had arrived on a Thursday--the lake had beckoned him. A siren call, it urged him from his cabin, from his sleep, luring him to its shores. Sarah's bracelet which he had worn faithfully since her death--he had found it in her room when he and his family returned home from the tragic weekend and wore it to her funeral--twisted between his fingers. Whenever he was nervous he would spin it around his wrist. A rash had grown around the area, chapping his skin raw. But it was nearly over. A few more hours and they would be packing up. After that he could turn his mind to the drive home. Every mile he traveled away from the lake be like removing one more needle.

A baby crying alerted him that the guests had arrived. Plates clattered into place along side forks and glasses. All real. The family had sprung for the nice sets. Usually by Sunday, the bride and groom were shaving off the smallest details to save money, but not so here. Jason barely felt the plates as they left his hand. He had gone into autopilot late last night after being woken from a dream. His sister, emerging from the lake, her skin falling away in soggy, waterlogged patches, grim from the lake's floor clinging to her face and hair. That he hadn't left the resort screaming was a testament to Sally and Mitch. He hadn't grown close with any of his co-workers but both Sally and Mitch were those special sort of people who didn't need to be friendly with someone in order to care for them. They'd sat him down, got him some water. Sally had even rolled him a joint. They spent an hour smoking in Mitch's car. The lake safely tucked away behind a copse of trees and a the few cabins separating the parking lot from the camp proper. The weed had calmed him, but it had also clicked something into place. Numb yourself, his brain told him. Let your eyes roll up into your head, clear your thoughts, and let your body take over. He'd been working in catering long enough that muscle memory could do the work for him.

Guests started making their way onto the beach. Grandparents cheered at how "Cute" it all was. Brunch on the beach. Oh that Cynthia, she must have thought of this. She's so clever. Always so creative that one. I knew she'd find a good man.

Jason floated through the seating area. The normally obnoxious comments bouncing off him. He didn't even look at any of them. Even when serving a distance existed between him and the guests. A thin  film only he could see separated him from the real world. 

"How do you take it?" He asked one woman as she looked up at him dumbly. She seemed almost shocked that someone had asked.

He registered her answer without really hearing her. He'd  bring all the fixing and let them choose. Most people didn't want to talk to the help. They wanted a few questions answered but other than that most preferred to pretend they didn't exist.

Today, that was more than fine.

In the kitchen, Mitch was marking boxes with a sharpie. Already preparing for the pack up. Jason had to fight every urge to drop the tray of sugar and milk and help out. Screw the old ladies and their tea, he wanted to get the hell away from the lake as quickly as possible.

"Ssshh," a voice whispered in his head. Calm down. Remove yourself from it. You're not really here anyway. You're sitting on a couch in your mind, watching reruns of Saturday morning cartoons. Eat your cereal. Wrap yourself in a blanket. You're almost home.

The tray put itself on the table, the milk and cream distinguished themselves. Plates and cups pick themselves up, got dropped off in a sink without thought. Nothing penetr

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Location A lake
Words Reach 50 words
Event Someone passes away
Words Reach 100 words
Letter Use the letter P
Words Reach 200 words
Character A grouchy catering staff
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Event A baby cries
Prop Include a bracelet
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Sentence "How do you take it?"
Letter Use the letter E
Prop Include a sharpie
Words Reach 900 words

This story was written using Taleforge, the free writing exercise app powered by The Story Shack. Curious? Try it yourself.

Share and read

Show it to the world.

Challenge others

Same prompts. Different stories?