The City Canteen

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Summerfield High School:
Shay braces herself as her father drives right into the flagpole at her high school. She looks over towards him, as several security officers at her high school come running out and over to the truck.

“Are you alright, Ms.?” Security Officer Wallace looks at the young girl on the passenger side of the truck.

“I’m okay, I think my father hit his head on the windshield.” Shay looks over toward security officer Wallace.

The paramedics arrive to take Shay’s father to the hospital. Shay tries to hide her embarrassment as she walks through the front door of the high school she went to. It was bad enough that everyone in school knew her father was the town alcoholic. But it didn’t help that she was treated differently from all the other students.

Everyone knew she was poor and couldn’t afford anything as they had. The clothes she wore concealed who she was. Not that it matters, most of the people at her high school knew she use to be male and now was dressing as a girl.

She stops at her locker to change out the books she took home last night. Several notes fall out of her locker. She picks one up and notices someone wrote some nasty words on it. She balls it up and adds it to the plastic grocery bag she keeps in her locker for trash.

She changes her books out and heads towards her first bell class. The teacher in her first class was Mrs. O’Keefe and she was a nice person.
She was just hired at the beginning of the school year and she was good at explaining the material.

When Mrs. O’Keefe starts writing information on the blackboard. She writes it down in her notebook. Before school started, she managed to collect enough metal cans and plastic bottles to take to the recycle center. She used the money she got from doing that to buy her school supplies since her father was unemployed.

Her next class was homeroom and her teacher for that class could never get her last name right. She always sat at the back of the classroom and kept quiet. She doesn’t even bother to try and correct her teacher again.

In the next few classes, Shay has she copies everything her teachers wrote on the blackboard. While she is writing the information down in her four-bell class. Someone throws a ball of paper at her, while the teacher’s back is turned towards them and hits her in the face. She ignores it and continues copying the material down.

Since she didn't respond to the paper ball being thrown at her. A rubber band hits her on the side of her face. She ignores it and tries not to look in the direction it came from. She wasn’t going to give whoever it was the satisfaction of acknowledging it.

When the bell rings, she slowly gathers up her books and pens. She waits until everyone else has left the classroom for lunch, before leaving. As she is walking out of the classroom. Several guys gather around her, blocking her from view from any of her teachers.

“Alright faggot, give me your lunch money and I won’t punch you.” Thomas looks at the local school faggot.

Shay looks at Thomas and wonders what happened to him. He uses to be a nice person and never picked on people before.

“I don’t have any lunch money. So, leave me alone.” Shay tries to push past him.

Thomas stops Shay from leaving. He punches Shay in her stomach “give me your lunch money or I’m going to hurt you.”

Shay looks Thomas in the eyes “I told you I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY! Now let me go.”

“No one talks to me like that, punk!” Thomas hits Shay hard in the stomach, causing her to bend forward.

The guys behind Shay kick her in her ass, sending her falling to the floor. Her books scatter everywhere as she falls forward. She tries to brace her fall but ends up hurting her wrist. The three guys walk on her back as they leave her there on the floor.

Shay tries not to cry as she gathers her books and paper. There was no one in the hallway as she slowly stands up and makes her way to the girl’s bathroom. She sets her books aside as she leans against the sink banister and starts crying.

Shay tries not to, but she couldn’t stop herself. She has never done anything to hurt anyone. She notices her make-up was messed up and fixes it. She turns around and leaves the bathroom and heads to the library.

She didn’t have any lunch money and her father never filled out the paperwork, so she could get free breakfast and lunches. She sits down at a table and works on what homework she has to do by tomorrow. Her stomach growls occasionally as she is working on her homework.

When the bell rings for her next class she goes and sits in the back corner of the room. She does what she always does by the time class ends. She was ready to go to her final class, which was French. Her teacher in that class was fun and she enjoyed the way she taught the class.

A few times during class her stomach growls, but she covers it up with a cough. She didn’t want anyone to know she hasn’t eaten for the past two days. By the end of class, Shay was ready to go home.

Since her dad had been arrested again for driving drunk and hitting the school’s flagpole. She leaves by one of the side doors and starts walking toward the homeless camp she has been living. She spots an empty plastic bottle and pulls a used trashed bag out of her backpack. She puts it in the bag and starts collecting more bottles and cans as she walks to the camp.

She remembers when her parents had a nice place to live and she never had to worry about eating. However, now she had to worry about where she was going to get food and if she’ll lose the tent, she has been sleeping in. The city has been talking about cracking down on all the homeless camps in the area.

She looks at what she collected so far and if she gets up early tomorrow before she has to be at school. She could find some more and maybe get enough to buy lunch. She lays down and rests her head on her backpack and cries herself to sleep.

The next day, before the sun, raises. Shay gets up and starts looking for cans and plastic bottles. She manages to find enough to fill two garbage bags. She turns them in for money. She gets enough money to buy some lunch or she could save it for dinner. She sets some aside to wash her dirty laundry.

The school can’t find out that she is homeless and that she didn’t have adult supervision. She does stop at a gas station and buy one liter bottle of flavored water. That way she’ll have something to drink throughout the day at school.

She arrives at school and goes to all her classes. She avoids Thomas and his crew as she makes her way to the library and works on her homework. By the time it is time to go home, she was almost finished drinking her flavored water. She made it last all day at school.

On the way back to the homeless camp, she stops and buys herself a hotdog at a gas station. She loads it down with every condiment they had. She saves it until she arrives at the homeless camp and eats it in the tent, she sleeps in. She had enough money left to do laundry and buy another hot dog to eat.

The rest of the week she gets up early every morning to collect cans and plastic bottles for money. After turning them in, she goes to school and attends her classes, while avoiding Thomas and his crew.

When Saturday arrives, Shay gets up early and heads towards the laundromat. she washes what little clothes and underwear she owns. While she is sitting in nothing but a pair of shorts and a worn tank top. Shay spots a food truck stop just outside the laundromat. She could smell the food being cooked coming from it. Her stomach growls, telling her how hungry it was.

“I know, but I have no money.” Shay grabs her clothes out of the drier when they are done. She folds them as small as she can and put them back into her backpack.

She steps into the restroom and changes into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She washed her tennis shoes, so they didn’t look so bad. She puts them on while wearing mismatching socks. Afterward, Shay leaves the laundromat and walks around downtown. She stops occasionally to look at things she knows she couldn’t afford, but dreams about owning them. Sometimes she’ll walk by patrons eating outside a restaurant or watch them as they eat inside the restaurant.

As she is walking around, she spots a restaurant that has a help wanted sign in the window. She figures it couldn’t hurt to see if she could get a job. She walks inside and a young woman greets her.

“Welcome to Tiffany’s, how many are in your party?” Lisa looks at the young girl as she stood in front of her.

“I was wondering if the job is still available?” Shay looks at the young woman standing in front of her.

“It’s a dishwasher position and it's still available. Would you like an application?” Lisa watches the young girl.

“Yes ma’am.”

Lisa walks over to the cashier and retrieves an application. She walks back over to the young girl and hands it to her.

“Thank you. Would you mind if I fill it out here?”

“Not at all. If you want to, you can use booth four.”

“Thank you.”

Lisa escorts the young girl over to booth four. She looks down at the girl “would you like something to drink?”

“I don’t have any money.” Shay looks up at the woman whose name tag said she was Lisa.

A smirk appears on Lisa’s face “a glass of water is free.”

Shay blushes from embarrassment. She looks back up at Lisa “yes, please.”

“No problem, kid.” Lisa smiles and goes to get a glass of iced water for the young girl.

While Lisa was gone, Shay pulls out an ink pen and starts filling out the application. Where it asks for her address, she puts down her old address. She was half done with the application when Lisa returns with her glass of iced water.

“Here you go, kid. Let me know when you are done.”

“Thank you, Lisa and I will.”

Shay watches as Lisa walks back to the front door to escort some customers to a table. She turns her attention back to the application and finishes filling everything in. She double-checks everything and takes its back to Lisa.

“I’m done.” As she hands the application to Lisa.

Lisa accepts it and checks it over to see if everything was filled out. Once she was satisfied it was complete.

“Do you have time for an interview, today?” Lisa knew Margaret would want to interview the girl.

“Yes ma’am. I can even start today if you want me to.” Shay was willing to start working right away.

A smile appears on Lisa’s face. “Let me get my manager.”

“Okay.” Shay walks back over to the booth she was sitting at.

A few minutes later, a frizzy-looking older woman comes walking over to her. Margaret looks at the young girl sitting at booth four. She had glanced over the application and noticed that the girl had no experience, but Lisa said she was willing to work right now.

“Hi I’m Margaret, I’m the manager here. Did you just tell Lisa you’re willing to start right now?”

“Yes ma’am, I am.” Shay looks at the woman.

“Well, normally I would ask you a bunch of questions and such. However, I need a dishwasher. Have you ever washed dishes?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good, because what you are doing is no different. I’ll worry about your paperwork later. Come with me.”

“Yes ma’am.” Shay gets up and grabs her bag. She also takes her glass of water with her.

Margaret escorts Shay towards the back of the restaurant and over to an older black man. She turns and looks at Shay “you’ll be working with George here. He’ll show you what you need to do.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Hi George, I’m Shay Heikkinen.” Shay holds her hand out to George.

“It’s nice to meet you. Now grab one of those rubber aprons and put it on.”

Shay looks in the direction George points towards. She walks over and grabs an apron and put it on. She walks back over and looks at George.

“Okay, what do I do next?”

“Put these gloves on or you’ll burn your hands.” George hands Shay a pair of yellow gloves.

“Okay.” Shay puts them on.

“Now, let’s get to work.” George shows Shay what he wants her to do once and steps aside after a while and lets her try.

Shay does what George instructs her to do. She works her ass off all night long, even when George instructs her to take a break. She doesn’t want to. She continues until everything is caught up.

She watches as George leaves at six o’clock, but she volunteers to stay and keep working. She had nothing she had to do. Margaret lets Shay continue working. However, Margaret does insist that Shay orders something to eat and take some time off to eat the meal.

Shay orders herself a club sandwich and some French fries. When her order is ready, she sits in the back and enjoys the meal. Her stomach is especially happy when the food hits it.

The Next Few Months:
Shay covers up a yawn as she sits and watches the head cook Jim Brown prepare what they needed for the day. Normally, on the weekend she works all day until close. She didn’t mind, because all the money Shay has been making, she has been saving. She’s been living on ten dollars a week unless she needs new shoes or clothes for school.

Margaret has been allowing her to come in during the mornings before school and fix herself some lunch to take with her. After school, she comes in and either wash dishes or helps the cooks out. She’s been learning how to cook and make the items on the menu from Jim.

Shay looks over towards the cooks as she cleans the dishes. She misses working with them, but she was hired to wash dishes. As Shay is washing dishes, one of the cooks comes over to her.

“Hey Shay, there’s a BBQ competition coming up and my uncle could use some help on his crew. Would you like to help out?” Beverly looks at Shay.

“Sure, I wouldn’t mind helping. That’s if I’m not working here.” Shay has heard a lot of good things about those competitions.

“I’ll talk with Mrs. Stanley and see if she’ll give you that weekend off.” Beverly was pretty sure Mrs. Stanley would give Shay the time off.

Shay has been spending all her free time up at the diner helping out. If she wasn’t washing dishes, she was busy being a bus boy. If they needed help with waitressing, Shay volunteered without ever complaining about it and Shay has helped her and the other chefs out on the line as well.

“Thanks, Beverly.” Shay wonders what the BBQ competition was going to be like.

She goes back to washing dishes and when her relief comes in to relieve her. She checks with Chef Brown to see if they need any help on the line.

Jim looks at Shay “go home and get some rest, Shay. You’ve been burning the candle at both ends.”

“I wish I could go home. I still have a bunch of homework to do.” Shay couldn’t go back to the homeless camp.

The city came by and kicked everyone out. She managed to save her tent and what little possessions she owned. Everything she owned could fill a grocery shopping basket.

“Good grades are important. But so is doing something special for yourself is as well. Why don’t you go to the park or grab yourself some ice
cream down at Sparkle’s?”

“Okay.” Shay figures she’ll go to the park and do her homework there.

Shay grabs her backpack and heads toward the park. She put all her things in a storage locker and paid six months in advance. She enjoys the fresh air as she walks toward the park.

She finds an area that was all by itself and takes her school books out to work on her homework. Thomas and one of his cronies were suspended from school for smoking where they weren’t allowed. As for the other two guys that hung around with Thomas. They were still picking on the freshmen in school.

She has managed to stay below everyone’s radar in school. She was keeping her head low and every once in a while, she would barely pass a test given by the teacher. She did it on purpose, so her teachers wouldn’t bring attention to her.

Shay pulls out a cheap laptop she managed to buy at a yard sale. The person selling it said it still worked and had been set back to factory specs. She knew that the park had free wifi. She logs on and uses the laptop to complete her homework.

Several hours later, she puts everything away and pulls out an energy bar, and eats that for dinner. While she is eating the energy bar, she spots the food truck she had seen a few months ago. She picks her backpack up and walks over to it. She was curious about what type of food they sold.

As Shay got closer to the food truck, she could smell some wonderful aroma coming from it. She didn’t know what the food was called, but it smelled like nothing she has ever smelled before. She looks at the menu on the side of the truck and takes a picture of it. The camera she was using, she bought at the same yard sale. It was digital and had a mini-SD card that was 32 gigs. She’ll look the dishes up later to see what they were.

She wanted to buy a dish, but she didn’t want to spend the money she might need for later. She turns and walks away as she looks for someplace to sleep for the night. She finds an old store that has been closed for a while.

Someone had forgotten to lock a window she could climb through and secure once she was inside the building. The place looked like it had been a furniture store of some sort. Shay cleans an area where she could lay down and turn on her flashlight without being seen.

She pulls a book out of her backpack and reads for a while. The place was spooky at night, but it was safe. She was thankful for it when it started to rain outside. After a while, she puts the book away and turns her flashlight off. She lays down on the cold hard floor and falls asleep.

For the next few days, Shay stays at the abandoned store. She is careful whenever she leaves it and when she enters it after work. Mrs. Stanley lets her know she could take the weekend off for the BBQ competition.

The BBQ Competition:
Shay wakes early so she could meet up with Beverly and her uncle and his crew. She and Beverly were the only girls among the three men. Beverly smiles at her as the two of them help load everything up in the trailer they were taking.

“I appreciate you helping out, Shay.”

“I have always wondered what goes on at a BBQ cook off.” Shay helps Beverly move several coolers filled with meat.

“Well, you’ll get a chance to find out and get to eat some yummy barbecue as well.” Beverly was excited.

“How many years has your uncle and his crew been doing this?” Shay met the two other guys. Both were older than her and Beverly.

“Those other two guys are my cousins and my uncle has been doing this for four years now, but he has never won a cook off. He did get awards
for being mentioned but never won one. He’s hoping this year will be different.” Beverly knew her uncle wanted to win this year.

Beverly and Shay climb into the truck and sit in the back. She had the window seat and Beverly was sitting between her and her cousin named Jason. Beverly’s other cousin was sitting up front in the passenger seat. The drive to where the competition was taking place was four hours away.

Beverly’s uncle filled out all the paperwork and register them. He was assigned a place to park and set up.

“Well kids, let’s see if we can win this competition this year.” Mat looks at his niece and her friend, plus his sons.

“We’ll win this year for sure, uncle.” Beverly was excited as she helps her uncle and cousin’s setup.

While they are setting up the pavilion, Shay looks around and couldn’t believe how many people were there for the competition. She couldn’t believe how many people had come out to compete.

“That’s a lot of people.” Shay looks toward Beverly.

“I know. Last year there were three hundred people that competed. This year there are probably more.” As Beverly grabs the folding table.

Shay helps set it up.

Once everything was set up and ready to go. One of the officials of the competition comes by to check their meats. He was making sure it hadn’t
been tampered with or opened. He also checks to make sure the meat is fresh as well, not expired.

Once they are given a clean bill of health, the first leg of the competition starts, which was the chicken. They start working on the chicken first, followed by the ribs, pork shoulder, and finally the brisket.

Shay and Beverly work on the chicken and change things up a little from Beverly’s uncle's recipe. The two of them use a little bit more of one spice and less of another. Shay had been paying attention to how Jim did things at the diner and picked up a few tricks.

While the chicken was cooking, Shay makes a brand-new rub to put on all the meats. She remembers that Jim said a nice touch of smoked paprika will make any meats it is put on taste better. She tastes the powder smoked paprika and had to agree.

Once the ribs are spiced up and foiled up. Shay works with Beverly’s uncle and cousins on the brisket. She mixes up a new batch of spices and stabs the meat, so the spices will sink into the meat. Once the brisket was ready to cook, they wrap it up and put it in the smoker to cook.

“All we have to do now girls is let everything cook. The chick goes to the judges first.” William didn’t care if he did win the best chicken. He wanted to win the other categories.

When it comes time for the judging. Beverly and Shay prepare the boxes and run them up to the entry table. Shay was amazed at how efficiently the entry table managed to get everyone recorded and give them a number. Once the boxes were submitted, all there was, was to wait and see what the judges thought.

While they were waiting Shay gets a chance to taste some other companies’ entries. Some of them were good and were going to give Beverly’s uncle a run for their money. Both girls stay up drinking and enjoying the company of everyone.

Shay ends up giving both of Beverly’s cousins blow jobs before she passes out. She wanted to do more, but she was equipped as a male and not a female. She hasn’t even told Beverly that she was transgender.

By the time the judging ends the next day, Beverly’s uncle places first place for the chicken, first place for the ribs, second place for the pork shoulder, and second place for the brisket. Williams looks at the girls “your secret rub won us the prize girls.”

“Thanks, uncle.” Beverly was proud of what they accomplished.

Later in the evening Beverly and Shay help pack everything up. Whatever smoked meat was left over, was split between Shay, Beverly, and the
boys. Shay is dropped off at the fake address she gave Mr. King and watches as Beverly drives off with her uncle.

Once they were gone, Shay hefts her backpack higher on her shoulder and heads to the abandoned store she found a few days ago. She manages to break into the place a second time and lay out her mat to sleep on. While she is laying on the mat, trying to fall asleep, she thinks about what her future is going to be like. She enjoyed the competition and would love to continue doing something like that.

As she slowly drifts off to sleep, she decides that she was going to travel the United States and work for restaurants along the way. Learn what she can from them and enter a cooking contest to win money.

Ten Years Later:
Shay drives back into her hometown and is amazed at what changes have taken place. She finally decided to come back home after learning and working her way across the United States and going to Europe to learn how to cook food over there. She pulls into a parking space in front of the old furniture store she uses to hide out before she left town.

She pulls out the keys to the place and opens the front door. She bought the old store from the realtor company who owned it and planned to turn it into an old fashion restaurant like the ones she has worked in the past ten years. She watches as the contractor she hired to renovate the place pulls in next to her black SUV. She talks with him and gives him a second set of keys to the place.

Afterward, Shay heads to the storage company she left all her stuff and retrieves it. She picks up an old photo of her and her parents when she was just eight years old and looks at it. Beverly had informed her five years ago after she left, that her father had passed away due to liver failure. She was in Europe at the time working and competing in cooking competitions.

Shay gets back into her SUV and drives over to where she lived when she was a child. She had bought it back from the people who bought the house after the bank repossessed it. They had moved to another house and when she heard her old childhood home was up for sale, she bought it.

She walks around inside the empty place. The recent owners had renovated and made improvements to the house. Not much was like it was when she was a child. She walks upstairs to where the master bedroom was located and just stood in the doorway.

Memories of her mother dying here in this room surface, as she starts crying. Tears roll down her cheeks as she falls to her knees and just lets all the emotions she had suppressed, surface. It has been twenty-six years since she has let herself feel the pain, she felt the day her mother left her. Twenty-six years of doing everything she could do to drag herself out of poverty and living on the streets.

She cries for a while and finally manages to get herself under control. It was time for her to move on and prove that the last ten years weren’t a waste. She pulls her cellphone out of her back pocket and calls the storage company that has been holding everything she has collected during the past ten years.

She gives them the address of the house and she is informed when they will arrive. Once she is done with that, she walks back downstairs to her SUV and brings out everything she had in it. She sets a place in the living room to sleep until her bedroom furniture arrives.

The Next Five Months:
“Order up.” Shay rings the bell on the counter to let her waitresses know there were several orders ready to go out to customers.

“Gotcha, boss.” Kathy grabs several plates and takes them out to her customers.

A smile appears on Shay’s face when she hears Kathy call her boss. She has worked and saved every bit of her money to open her own restaurant. She was going to make the person who inspired her to become a chef proud.

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So much left unsaid

Her school nemesis, Thomas for example? He could have been the person trying to outbid her for the properties.
But please get a proofreader or at least re-read before posting. 'neck' instead of 'next'. There are more but I won't mention them.



You're right, there was a lot of grammar mistakes and proofing that needed to be done. I've gone through the story and cleaned it up better and added a few things.

As for Shay, she comes from a small southern town with a population of 2,000 people. She worked her way across the United States and went to Europe to learn how to cook and compete as well. True, she could had gone to cooking school, but because of how high school was, she didn't want too.

If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison


Nice story, but the geography is a little confusing. There are no indicators that she started in anywhere but the US, but after the BBQ cookoff she decided to travel to the US. After traveling through the US and Europe, she goes back home (wherever that it).


A good storyline.

It's a good story that has the potential to become several chapters. As Sam suggests some reference to her school abusers would provide material to expand the story considerably.
The sentence construction and grammar is a little bit immature and connectivity between some of the phrases suggests need for more English education but nevertheless the story line is good and holds the reader's attention.
Thanks for the pleasure,


A very nice story.

Samantha Heart's picture

A cute story of someone who made something of her self.

Love Samantha Renée Heart.