a truck stop in the South and a couple of waitresses
| I fell in love with Ruby on my first day of work here, over thirty years ago. Her eyes shone with a light that mirrored the fierce flame of her spirit. She smelled of coffee and jasmine; like an angel fallen from heaven and forced to work at this God forsaken truck stop. Ruby’s smile was radiant, full of perfectly spaced pearly white teeth, a light blush across her nose and cheeks, and that ever-mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Her petite form was draped in the ugly pink and white of our uniforms, but that didn’t stop her beauty from showing through. Ruby took me under her wing, on that first day, and taught me how to make a fair living from the tips the truckers would inevitably leave me. It wasn’t long before Ruby and I were best friends, almost inseparable.
I loved spending whatever time I could in her company, preferring to take the same shifts as much as I possibly could. Ruby had a way of making the world seem more beautiful and happy than it was in truth. I was so deeply afraid of telling Ruby my true feelings for her that I decided I would be content with things as they were between us. I knew Ruby was bedding some of the truckers, heck, so was I. It was a great way to get a little more money, and it beat passing my nights cold and alone.
One day, Ruby came to work and pulled me to the side to tell me about the married trucker she had been flirting with. They had only cuddled and talked until then, but the night before, they had gotten drunk and found themselves naked when the sun shining into the motel room window woke them. My dear Ruby was already bitter and distrustful toward men; a lifetime of serving truckers has a way of doing that to a woman. But, this married man, this jerk, with his feigned kindness and sincerity broke what was left of Ruby’s heart. To this day, she still muses over that one. Well, come to find out, that jerk got Ruby pregnant. Nine months later, Ruby gave birth to a darling little girl. That baby's grown now, though. Her momma still frets each and every day for her safety, for the girl to call, for any word of her at all.
So much time has passed us by since I first came to work in this truck stop and unwittingly fell in love with Ruby. The years have not been kind to either of us. Ruby still smells like coffee and jasmine, but that light which first caught my heart has mostly faded from her eyes. She still has an enchanting smile, though now it is framed by the small wrinkles which map out a life of love, worry, stress, and heartbreak. In all this time, I have actually grown to love Ruby all the more for how she has handled the ups and downs of her life. Best friends as we yet remain, I still find it impossible to speak of my true feelings for her; besides, women are not supposed to love each other the way I love Ruby.