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Still, it's you

Chapter Text

If your callin' 'bout my heart it's still yours
I should have listened to it a little more
Then it wouldn't have taken me so long
To know where I belong
And by the way boy this is no machine your talkin' to
Can't you tell this is Austin and I still love you
I still love you

-Austin, Blake Shelton

April 21, 1990
Grimson Pub, Nashville, Tennessee
“What I wouldn’t give to spend all of my time for the rest of my life with you, precious darling”
“Is that a song?”, you may ask. And if it is, what’s the title, who’s the writer, and who’s the singer?
Such are pretty much natural questions when one is deeply curious about any song currently playing within hearing range. But when you’re otherwise distracted or something is bothering you a lot and taking up so much space on your mind that there doesn’t seem to be room for anything else, the music serves as nothing more than a background noise to your internal conflict, ebbing and flowing out of your system like a stream of water on your favorite lake. That couldn’t be truer on Gwyn’s case, as she is working her usual shift at the Grimson Pub, located in a place she has learned to call her home.
“Gwynie, honey, sangria on the rocks for the us, please thank you so much!”
Gwyn acknowledges this, nods, and smiles at Rosalie, whom she has always called Rosie, who was with Lydia, Olive, Vena, and Erin. The five of them are of the same age as Gwyn is, which is 22, (a decade and two years, to put it in another way), and all work as grade-school teachers from various levels at the local elementary school. Well, it’s Friday night, so they’re winding down after a long week of having to deal with rambunctious kids constantly testing their patience, as well as having their homework and other assessments to deal with on top of the ever-changing curriculum. The highly distinguishable clinks and clangs of glasses, pouring of liquid heaven, chatters of voices, and musical instruments went on as Gwyn prepares her friend’s orders while slightly getting lost in her sea of thoughts.
Being the eldest daughter in her family of 7 has never come in smooth. She learned how to be both plain and hardworking, compassionate in everything she does. That should’ve taken so far in life and made her achieve some far-fetched dream, or made her the kind of woman people really gush over. But life never goes the way one plans it to be, and what you have to do is live through the inevitable struggles, keeping a straight face while you’re at it.
Gwyn always had the desire to be of service to other people by means of helping them achieve their overall well-being. Coming from a family with many members, along with the living conditions that they continue to observe, it may not be such a surprise to value taking care of others.
Being a petite, natural blonde, as a result of some prejudice, some would doubt her intellectual capacity, but she thought that working in the medical field is one of the best ways she could fulfill that desire, since tired and sick people are the folks that could use the most out of the love, care, and compassion one can offer.
But desire can only take you so far. Numerous factors play a part in how the rest of one’s life goes on about, such as financial stability and moral support systems. As much as Gwyn wanted to take up a science-heavy college course so that she may be able to get a job that requires taking care of sick patients, her parents did not have the financial capacity to support her desire, since she was not their only child. Gywn had to find a job that would help her siblings go on with their education after her college graduation. She got a degree in literature, which up to this day she doesn’t know what to feel about, because to her it seems like graduating from the course mostly taught her to be good with words but not bringing them to action. There were plenty of job options for her, but none of them became of interest to her. It became hard for her to admit that she lost the fiery kind of passion she once had.
Due to the needs of her family that must be met, she both now needed and wanted to secure a job that would sustain them.
As she couldn’t find an interesting job in her hometown of Austin, and also because she wanted to get away from the pressure she feels whenever she spends a prolonged amount of time with her family members, as well as to help meet the needs of her family, three years ago she decided to start move to another place in hopes of finding something that both interests and suits her. It hasn’t been easy doing her best to drive through the uncertainties she faced and continues to face, but here she is. After finding out that getting a job as a waitress in the Grimson Pub pays really well due to the influx of customers daily, she took the job offer and has been in service ever since.
Nothing in life ever comes in easy, but at the same time life surprises you with how complicated it actually is. Gwyn never expected how serving others drains so much of your energy. Being a waitress, she gets yelled at a lot, makes mistakes which she couldn’t have avoided but get called out for anyway, and her safety is always compromised, what with drunk people of sorts trolling about.
Good thing, though, she never has to be alone in her dilemmas. She has her wonderful ladies to whom she could let her frustrations out to.
She slowly approached her ladies’ table, with the drinks in her hand and a half-hearted, tired smile on her face.
“Darling hi! Thank you so much, as always” Lydia, the most enthusiastic and talkative, said. As she is an English teacher, it doesn’t come off as a shocker that she has her way with words. All. The. Time.
“Of course, of course, my pleasure, loves” Gwyn replies, followed by a couple of chuckles.
“Hey, wanna hit the karaoke toniiight? or we can ask the band to play our favorite song? That would be really great!” Erin blurts out. Gwyn smirks rolls her eyes at her. Erin has the best voice amongst them. She is only the music teacher out of the bunch of them, and always tries to find a way to flex her talents. Despite her vivacious personality, Erin is the only one in the group who has two children, Matt, 9 and Haley, 11. Erin has always desired that her children become musical geniuses like she is, or atleast involved in the music industry. She has always been sending her kids to different music classes, recitals, and contests. Gwyn can’t even catch up on how many contests Erin’s kids have participated and won in.
“Oh we should! The best week ender!’ said Olive, a very artistic and creative lass. Being an art teacher really brings it out in her. She paints a lot, and always seems to have some kind of paint stain on her hands and clothes. Today is no exception to that. Even though the lighting around the pub isn’t that great at the moment, Gwyn could still see some remnants of blue colored paint on her palms.
“Erin, goodness gracious I wanted to come here to chill and have fun not make an embarrassment out of myself or the rest of us!” Vena retorted, followed by a couple of laughs from the group. Vena is, in her friend group’s perspective, is the lioness, the alpha. She is very strong-willed and has a keen eye for details, accuracy, and keeping things chill. Vena’s a mathematics teacher, who despite her initial demeanor, truly loves what she is doing to the point that she always offers free tutorial sessions for her students or any one who in the neighborhood who needs it, actually. Gwyn sometimes envies Vena’s deep and fiery passion for current job, because it’s something she wished she had at the moment.
Gwyn continues to smile at them. These women have made dealing with her drama so much more bearable.
“Come stay with us for a while sweetheart” Rosalie, who prefers to be called Rosie, said to Gwyn. Rosalie is the most serious one out of all of them, because she works with the school guidance counselor, giving her that “don’t you dare mess with me vibe”. But as her friend, Gwyn knows she has the biggest, kindest, and purest heart.
“I’m doing great, or well, as great as I’ll ever be, I guess” Gwyn replies.
“You know we love you so much, sweetheart, as long as we’re together we got each other’s backs” Lydia says, with that smile on her voice which she never fails to have.
“I know, and that’s what I love the most about you all. But you know, just because I work here doesn’t mean the attention has to go to me. How are you all?” Gwyn says.
“Doing pretty good myself, today was a handful though” says Erin.
“Why what happened?” replies Vena.
“Because, I’ve had some concerns with the fundraising for my kids recital next month. But hopefully it will all be settled by next week” answers Erin.
“Kids should always get the chance to be their best, indeed. How proud you must be of your kids though, Erin!” Vena says.
The group continues to chat away, and unfortunately, her friends weren’t the bar’s only customers, so the night went on.
Slowly less and less people showed up, signaling the end of Gwyn’s shift. She started to clear everything up and prepare the place for another day tomorrow. As a consequence of the silence that finally enveloped her, she began to delve into her thoughts once more. She realized how lovely it must be to find someone who really understands where she is coming from. Who gets how it is to be unsatisfied with their current job. Who knows how it feels like to be in a shaky relationship with their family but obliged to help provide for them. Who is currently wanting to seek comfort from someone who she knows may be able patch up the pieces of her that are missing, since the person is going through the exact thing, just in a different context.
After spending about more than an hour getting the bar back together, Gwyn was more than ready to call it a day and leave the establishment.
She checked the clock.
Its still suprises her how normal morning hours seem to be her nights and how her evenings are the regular morning schedule. This made her think about life’s unpredictability. Like, whenever you thought your day was about to end, well in fact it was just about to start.
She heard creak the bar’s front door open from the breakroom. It could just be Wilbur, the nightwatch, or her manager, Jim suddenly deciding to barge in, but she heard no further chatter.
Could it be another customer? Grimson, as an establishment always adhering to protocols, isn’t supposed to be accepting customers coming in this late, or early.
But when the customer is in dire need of a person to talk to, or if it’s someone an employee knows, it’ll be hard not to make exceptions.
Curious about the noise she heard from outside, Gwyn decided to go and find out who would want to walk in at the bar at this hour.
She grabbed her trusty black leather sling bag, a small pocket knife from the stockroom (you can never be too unguarded in these types of situations, as much as you might want to be worry-free) and set out to ease her curiosity.