creative writing · Writing

The Secrets We Keep- Chapter 4:Coffee and Cops

Okay guys, this is NaNoWriMo writing and I know that a lot of this stuff that I wrote in here might not be right but I’ll fix it later. Also you’ll get a preview of the sibling’s secret language that they use in front of other people.

Words and phrases:

Uzuata= father

tik tok= let’s get going

Dacun reaz ez?= What’s going on?


I found a coffee shop along the sidewalk near the alley where I left Lizzy and there’s a sign in the window that says ‘Help Needed: If Applied For Will Be Hired On The Spot’. I smile at that before turning back around and walking back toward the alley. It looks like I’ll get a job after all.

The next morning I wake Lizzy up early and we take a walk around the block before the coffee shop opens.

“So, are we staying for a bit?” She asks. I nod as we arrive at the little shop that sits on the corner. Just as we arrive at the door a woman unlocks it and lets us in as the first customers of the morning. She smiles as we walk past her through the door.

“What would you both like to drink?” She asks as she walks behind the counter to the register. I smile and walk up to the front of the counter and look over the menu that is hanging behind her.

“Well, I don’t want anything but I think that she would like a hot chocolate. The biggest one you have, please.” I order and pull out what money I have left which is only about thirty dollars.

“That will be ten dollars.” She tells me. I pull out the ten dollar bill and hand it to her. She taps the screen a few times and then the cash drawer pops open and she places the ten with the other bills like it before closing the drawer again and handing me a receipt. She goes to work on making the drink before she notices me still standing at the counter.

“Can I help you with something else?” She asks. I smile and nod.

“Yes. I noticed that you are hiring and I am really in need of a job right now.” I tell her. She gives me a quick  once over before nodding.

“Well, you look trustworthy enough. Are you able to start right away? Your sister can stay in the back while you work. The other two should be here soon.” She tells me. I turn to Lizzy to see her staring up at me with a huge smile on her face.

“It looks like we’ll be staying for a while. Why don’t we follow her to the back so that I can get my uniform and you can get settled.” I tell her. She nods and the woman smiles before walking back in front of the counter and motioning for us to follow her into the back hallway where the bathrooms are. There’s a door on the right side of the hall marked ‘Staff Only’.

“You guys can stay in here for a bit. I’ll come and get you once work picks up. And I’ll bring your hot chocolate back in just a minute.” She tells Lizzy before nodding at me and walking back out of the room. Lizzy sits down in a big cushioned chair in front of a TV that is turned to the news. I quickly grab the remote and change the channel to cartoons. Lizzy gasps as the pictures start talking and moving around on the screen.

“What is this?” She asks me. I raise my eyebrow in question before remembering that this is the first time she’s seen a TV really on with sound.

“It’s a TV, Lizzy. Remember you watched one when we were living in Galesburg.” I tell her. She shakes her head with a confused frown on her face.

“But that didn’t have sound or color and this one can change pictures.” She tells me. I smile and nod.

“You’re right. Now why don’t you pay attention to your cartoons.” I tell her and she nods before becoming completely mesmerized by the television. A few minutes later a knock sounds on the door and the it opens to reveal a girl about my age.

“Hi, are you the new guy?” She asks as she walks into the room with a tall styrofoam coffee cup.

“Yes I am. My name is David. It’s nice to meet you.”I tell her as I walk up to her with my hand outstretched. She smiles and grabs my hand in a tight grip before shaking.

“Layla. It’s nice to meet you too. I’ll be helping you around with order calling and working all of the machines so that you can make the drinks. I think this is for you?” She holds the cup up to me and I shake my head.

“No, it’s actually for my sister. She won’t talk to you but you can give it to her.” I point to the chair where Lizzy is sitting. The top of her head is just barely above the top of the chair. Layla nods and walks up to the table beside Lizzy and sets the cup down.

“Here’s your hot chocolate.” She tells her. Lizzy doesn’t respond or move because she is so entranced by the TV. “Looking at her it would seem that she’s never seen a TV before.” Layla says as she walks back in front of me. I chuckle and shake my head.

“She’s just never watched cartoons before. She knows what a TV is.” I explain and she nods slowly in understanding as another knock sounds on the door. The woman who owns the shop steps into the room with a smile on her face. She walks up to me and holds out a hat and a t-shirt.

“I see you’ve met Layla. She’ll be helping you around the store until you get your feet and then you’ll be full time in her place.” She tells me. My eyebrows raise and I look over at Layla.

“Ah, so you’re quitting.” I comment. Layla nods with a smile.

“Yeah, I’m graduating this fall and I need to take more time to focus on my school work so that I can finish strong.” She explains. I just nod and turn back to the store owner.

“I never got your name. I’m David and that’s Lizzy.” I introduce myself and point over to where Lizzy is sitting. She nods and shakes my hand.

“Dana, it’s nice to meet you and good to have you work with us. Now, go get changed into your uniform and lets get started.” She tells me before letting go of my hand and walking back out the door. Layla sighs and then smiles at me.

“Sorry, mom is a little weird these days. She doesn’t like the thought of me leaving after graduation but I have to get on with my own career. Now let’s go, don’t want to be too late to your first day on the job.” She tells me. I nod and walk to the door.

“Okay, I’m just going to run to the bathroom and I’ll come up to the front when I’m ready.” I tell her. She nods with a smile and follows me out the door. I watch her walk through the room greeting the customers with a bright smile on her face. I quickly turn away and walk into the bathroom. I quickly lock the door before sinking against it. My hands cover my face as I rest my elbows on my knees.

“I won’t hurt anyone. I can keep my hands to myself.” I whisper to myself as I slowly start to calm down. Once my temper is under control I stand up from the door and quickly change my shirt and put the hat on before opening the door again and walking back across the hall to the staff room where Lizzy is still watching her cartoons. I walk up behind her and place my hand on her shoulder causing her to jump out of her trance. She looks up at me with wide eyes and then she takes a deep breath.

“You keep scaring me.” She whines as she looks around the room. I just chuckle as It sit on the arm of the chair.

“I’m sorry. I was just going to tell you that I’m going to work now. Your hot chocolate is on the table, though I don’t know how hot it is anymore. If someone comes in here don’t try to talk to them, just shake your head and smile. I’ll be done in a few hours so why don’t you drink your chocolate and watch your cartoons while you wait for me.” I tell her. She nods and grabs the cup off the table before turning her attention back to the TV and zoning out. I laugh and put my shirt on one of the shelves in the back corner of the room before walking out of the room and up to the front of the store. I smile at Layla as she motions for me to go behind the counter. I walk back and she throws me an apron.

“Are you ready to get started?” She asks. I nod and she hands me a towel.

“Good. For today we are just calling orders and learning about these machines. And there will be continuous cleaning as customers will be coming and going from tables all day. And the drinks usually make a mess of the counters.” She explains. I nod and wait for her to continue.

“This is your bar mop. Use it to clean the counters and tables and you can pick up spray bottles over there.” She points back into a small kitchenette area and I see a few spray bottles on the shelves.

“I know how to use this. I’m really more interested in learning about the machines.” I tell her. She smiles and turns to the blender.

“Fine. We’ll start easy. I’m pretty sure you know that this is a blender and you know what it can probably be used for. We use it for mixing the cold drinks that require small bits of ice. We have three of these fancy blenders with pitchers that are just the right size to make one tall cold drink and two of the smallest size drinks.” She explains. I nod and she moves right along to the industrial size coffee maker.

“This is our coffee maker. Put the grounds and water in the top and the coffee makes itself. The grounds and the water are pretty self explanatory once you look in the top of the machine. Also the pitcher for the water is on top of the machine and you need to fill it to the top in order to make the right kind and amount of coffee.” She explains. I nod again and she moves to the front of the work space where all of the condiments are.

“Well, I guess that’s all the machines that you’ll really be working on. I can show you all of the condiments and how to work these spray cans.” She says. I look over all of the different items on the and in the counter and nod.

“These things go inside the drinks when you put them in the blender. Chocolate chips, peppermint pieces, especially this time of year, and all of these other bits that you can learn about once you get an order for it.” She says. I just keep nodding. This is going a lot slower than I expected. It’s like she doesn’t think that I could easily work my way around here without her helping me around.

“Well, it’s time for me to start making drinks. Order calling is easy. Just read the name on the cup and wait for the person to come up and if they don’t respond to their name call out the drink name.” She explains. I nod again and she smiles before walking away to grab one of the empty cups that her mom had set on the back counter. The first is a clear plastic cup. Layla picks it up and reads it and then sets it back down before opening one of the blenders and perfectly measuring the frozen coffee and the crushed ice pieces and chocolate chips before placing it back under the cover and turning it on for a few seconds. She takes out the pitcher and pours half of it into the cup effectively filling it before placing the pitcher back on the machine and walking over to me. She pulls out the whipped cream and sprays a heap on top of the already full drink before taking a few mini chocolate chips and sprinkling them on top and drizzling chocolate sauce on top of that. She pulls out a dome lid and carefully pushes it on before sliding the cup to me. I pick up the cup and read the name before calling it.

“Elisabeth.” I call and a girl with long blonde hair walks up to the counter with a smile. I smile back and hand her the drink.

“There’s a table that needs to be turned over.” Layla tells me. I look out over the room and see the table in the middle is empty. I nod and grab a spray bottle before walking to the table and cleaning it. By the time I get back behind the counter Layla already has three more drinks waiting for me to call.

“Mark, Denise, Jordan.” I call and they each come up one by one and get their drinks from me. This is more fun than I thought it would be.

A few hours go by with me turning over tables and calling out orders and it’s now almost noon. I walk up to Layla and tap her shoulder.

“Would it be okay if I go check on Lizzy real quick?” I ask. She nods with a smile.

“Sure.” She says. I take off my apron and quickly make my way to the staff room to check on Lizzy. I open the door and see her still sitting in her chair but she’s not staring at the TV anymore but instead at something in her hand. I peek over her shoulder to see my phone on and in her hand.

“What are you doing with that?” I ask her. She jumps up and looks at me with wide eyes.

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t want to watch the TV anymore and I knew you had it in your backpack.” She tells me. I glare at her before snatching it out of her hand to see what she was doing. I see the messages open and a message is typed in our special language in a message to our father.

“I thought you couldn’t read.” I comment. She looks down at her hands.

“I can’t but I remember you telling me what the letters look like and how our special words would be spelled in case we were in trouble. I was just trying to write a little bit.” She says. I sigh and erase the message before turning the phone off again.

“Don’t touch this again, okay? It’s off so that dad can’t track us. If you want to practice writing I can get you a pen and a piece of paper.” I tell her. She just nods and sniffles. I walk up to the little closet next to the storage shelves and open it to find paper and any kind of coloring utensil a child could possibly need to be distracted for hours. I pull out a huge stack of paper and a box of markers. I place them on the small coffee in front of her and she sits on the floor to reach it.

“Wow. I’ve never seen these things before. Can I really write with this?” She asks as she picks up one of the markers and puts it on the paper without taking the lid off. She frowns in confusion. “It’s not working.” I laugh and pick up her hand with the marker in it and show her how to take the cap off.

“Try it now.” I tell her. She puts the pen to the paper and it makes a dot. She gasps in excitement.

“Wow. That’s so cool. Can you write something on it and then I can try?” She asks me. I sigh and check the time on the clock above the door. It’s been ten minutes since I took my break.

“Yes, but I have to hurry.” I tell her. She nods and I pick up the black marker and turn the paper toward me as I try to decide what to write.

‘Lizzy is the best little sister ever, I don’t know what I would ever do without her.’

“Ooh. What does it say?” She asks. I smile and put the cap back on the marker.

“It says that Lizzy is the best little sister ever.” I tell her. She looks at the writing in awe before picking up the marker and writing my sentence or at least copying the letters. I smile again and shake my head before walking out of the room and back up to the front to start work again. Layla laughs at me once I get back in my spot behind the counter.

“That was the longest short break ever. What were you doing?” She asks. I shrug my shoulders.

“I had to take my phone away from her and explain why and then I had to get her some paper so that she could practice her writing. She was getting tired of watching the TV.” I explain as I start wiping down the counter. I see her give me a look out of the corner of my eye but I ignore it because something else catches my eye. There are two cops sitting in the window of the shop at a bar type structure. They are talking about something important from the looks on their faces.

“When did they get here?” I ask Layla. She looks up at the two officers and then back at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Like fifteen minutes ago, why?” She asks. I shrug my shoulders but keep my eyes on them until a flash of red on one of the TV screens in the main room catches my eye. I turn my head to see a breaking news headline that makes my blood run cold. I keep up with the subtitles as they start telling the story. The headline reads ‘Abigail Sutton case reopened after new evidence surfaces’. I can feel my chest tightening as a picture of my mother flashes across the screen and a small headache starts forming as I read the words.

‘Police believe they have found a new lead on this 10 year old murder case that was left cold after all possible suspects disappeared.’ My hands start to shake as a cold sweat forms on my skin.

‘Her children were thought to have been kidnapped but just two days ago we got this picture from an anonymous witness. They were seen on a bus headed from Galesburg to Bloomington.’ The subtitles read as a blurry picture of Lizzy and I shows up on the screen briefly.

“Atz!” I say under my breath. Our father was there, why didn’t I notice that. I try to take a few deep breaths to keep myself under control but my cap blows anyway and I slam my fist into the counter. I carefully look around the shop to see if he is here too but I don’t see him anywhere. I look back up at the TV and see that the story is still on trying to find us.

‘If anyone sees these two people please call this hotline or the police so that they can be brought into protective custody.’ Then the story finally changes and I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn and see Layla staring at me with wide eyes.

“Hey, are you okay?” She asks. I take another deep breath but all I see is red as I look at Layla. I shake my head and push her away from me.

“I’m sorry. I thought I had more time here but it turns out I don’t. Thank you for helping me and I’m sorry that I couldn’t help more.” I say trying to sound as sincere as possible but I’m slowly losing my grip. I take off the hat and the apron and set them on the counter and walk around the counter and back to the staff room where Lizzy is peacefully sitting and drawing pictures on the pieces of paper. Layla had followed me back to the room so I quickly speak in Lizzy’s special language.

“Tik tok.” I say as Layla opens the door. Lizzy looks up at me quickly with wide eyes.

“Dacun reaz ez?” She asks. Layla looks down at Lizzy with wide eyes and then back up at me. I grab my backpack and put it on before grabbing Lizzy’s bag.

“What are you doing? Where are you going?” Layla asks. I stop and stare at her with a blank expression.

“I’m leaving. Going back to the streets and keeping everyone around me safe.” I tell her in a monotone voice. She gasps and takes a step away from me.

“You’re homeless?” She asks. I scoff and then look at Lizzy.

“Tik tok.” I say again. She nods her head and stands up. She walks up to me and takes her backpack. I see her looking back at the papers and markers that she left all over the table.

“Would it be okay to take that with us? She seems to like it and she usually doesn’t have anything to entertain her during the day.” I ask Layla. She nods and I look down at Lizzy and give her a nod. She looks excited and quickly packs the rest of the blank papers and the box of markers into her pack before coming to stand next to me again. She tugs on my shirt and I look down at her.

“Dacun reaz ez?” She asks again and I look sideways away from her.

“Uzuata.” She gasps at that one word and starts shaking. I push her behind me and look up at Layla.

“We need to go. Please get out of my way.” I tell her. She nods and lets us walk out of the room. We walk through the busy shop quickly and keep our heads down until we get out on the street. I quickly lead Lizzy down an alley next to the shop and we make our way toward the university.

“Where are we going?” She asks. I look back at her and see her face creased with worry.

“We’re heading toward the university. We will have to somehow find the money to get on a new bus out of town. Our father is too close now. There has to be something I can do to slow him down.” I start thinking out loud. Lizzy pulls on my hand to make me stop walking. I turn around to her.

“Are we going to be okay?” She asks. I let out a startled laugh and kneel down in front of her before taking her hand.

“We’re going to be just fine. I’m going to make sure that he never gets you.” I tell her. She nods and sniffles. I pull her into a hug as she starts sobbing in the middle of the sidewalk. A few people stop and stare and I glare at them which causes them to turn and walk away just as quickly as they stopped. After a few minutes of standing still on the sidewalk and a lot of dirty looks I finally pull Lizzy away from me as she calms down and smile at her.

“Are you feeling okay? Maybe we should find a quiet place to sit.” I tell her. She nods and I stand up before taking her hand in mine and guiding her through the people down the sidewalk. I find another relatively clean looking alleyway close to the campus and I take Lizzy down it and let her sit against the wall.

“Would you like me to try and find a house?” I ask her. She nods a little and I smile at her. “Okay. Would you be fine to sit here by yourself for a little bit?” I ask. She nods again and I take off my backpack. I reach in the front pocket and pull out my pocketknife and the lock picking kit.

“How long will you be gone?” She asks. I think for a moment.

“An hour at the longest. If it is longer then just stay hidden. You know I will always come back for you.” I tell her. She nods and lets go of my hoodie. I walk away from the alley and start the search for a house.


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