read the suite from the beginning

by Christopher R. Muscato

#Amplify #SilentNoMore #NoisyGirl

Mia paused from wiping her tables, and observed the small television on the far side of the diner. Clara Ström, the television read. Only 16 years old, and there she was, addressing the United Nations. The girl was a sight, her icy fists, blue and glistening, pounding against the podium as she called world leaders to task. 

Mia heard the unmistakable clattering of her manager emerging from the kitchen, and quickly returned to scrubbing the table. The manager brushed by, barely noticing Mia, and Mia relaxed. She chanced another peek at the television. Miraculous, a girl with power. That’s what Clara Ström said. Mia turned her focus back to her tables. A girl with power. That wasn’t her. 

The neon lights over the diner flickered out, signaling the end of her shift. She could still get some sleep before school the next morning. Mia quietly shuffled into the back to collect her tips. It was dark. The manager was waiting. 

When Mia left, she had her tips. She pocketed the money, dirty, heavy in her hands. She could still get some sleep before school. She could sleep. She clenched and unclenched her fists, feeling the compulsive need to wash them, cleanse them, erase them. She needed sleep.

“Mia, are you with us?” The voice shook Mia awake, and she nodded abashedly, chin tucked into the collar of her oversized sweatshirt, her ears turning red. Her professor kept talking and Mia tried to focus on the lecture. Her grades had been slipping, but she liked the community college. Focusing did not come easy anymore. Not with so little sleep. Not with the restless nights that come after a shift like yesterday’s. 

Mia could not focus on her schoolwork. But for whatever reason, neither could she shake the image of a 16-year old girl staring down the most powerful people in the world, daring them to meet her icy gaze. Mia looked down at her own hands. She saw no sign of power.

Another shift. Mia was pouring coffee for a woman in a dark jacket and collared shirt, working through a pile of documents and manila folders. The woman thanked Mia for the coffee absentmindedly and shifted in her seat, and in that moment Mia spotted the flash of gold on the woman’s belt. The woman caught Mia staring at her badge, and lowered her papers. Mia blushed, averting her eyes, and shuffled away.

The next day, the woman with the badge was back in the same booth. Coffee. Black. 

“And what’s your name?” She asked suddenly, as her order arrived.


“Nice to meet you, Mia. I’m Georgia.”

Mia nodded curtly, and scuttled to the next table.

The woman became a regular, always the same booth. Always the same order. From pieces of overheard conversations, Mia determined that the woman was a detective. Sometimes she was alone. Today she was accompanied by a man also in a dark jacket and collar. They laughed as they swapped stacks of manila folders.

“Thank you, Mia,” Georgia said as Mia appeared with the daily order. 

“Mia, can I see you in the back for a moment?”
Mia froze as her manager’s voice rang from the back of the diner. She set down the pot of coffee and scurried to the back. She adjusted her ponytail to hide the cold sweat accumulating on the nape of her neck. Her hands started shaking, and she buried them in her pockets as she entered the manager’s office. 

“I need you to cover for Nancy next Thursday. Does that work?”

Mia nodded. The manager looked her up and down, one eyebrow raised. 

“Okay then. Back to it.”

Back on the floor, Mia could still feel her pulse pounding in her temple. Georgia’s papers were already flat on the table when Mia made it to her table. The detective wasn’t looking at them.  

“Everything okay, Mia?” 

Mia nodded, shrugging as nonchalantly as she could. Georgia’s eyes darted towards the manager’s office, then to her partner.

“Todd, give me a minute, okay?”

As the man at the booth slid quietly out the door, Georgia leaned across the table. 

“Mia, is there something you want to tell me? Is there something you need to say?”

Mia shook her head, no, there was nothing to…her eyes fell on the television on the far end of the diner. In that instant, Mia felt as if she had ice in her lungs. She felt the cold. As she opened her mouth, she half expected a blizzard to storm out, but instead of ice, there was only sound. The sound of a name. A sound that rocked the very foundations of the ground she stood on. 

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