She was twenty-one and tired; her passenger's soul had just returned from abroad. She would always get goosebumps just at a day like today: ''Gosh, the time has gone so fast... I need to go back... Go back anywhere...''

Yes, she was a passenger's soul. She remembered the white macadams as well as the dark, unforged soil trails. She remembered the stick in her hand and the hard backpack feeling. Colors intertwined with her senses, senses intertwined with buildings, buildings intertwined with imagination about romances... She remembered the little, wooden, romantic guesthouses with flowers in front of the doors, as well as the kind owners showing her the open roads ahead waiting for her. And, she remembered the handsome strangers she'd meet. They wanted her loneliness and her warming company, they wanted to caress her ring finger.

Everytime she'd want to enumerate the countries to which she had been, her ten fingers and ten toes would not be enough. One or two would be missing. ''Do I really want to travel the whole world? Can I?'' she'd then ask herself, and become overly depressed. But what was interesting about her momentary depression was that this state would in turn evoke her deepest traveler instincts.

She then wakes up all sweaty and takes a bath.

Afterwards, all cleansed, she moves gradually, step by step, to the sanctified place, to the place where her backpack and the wooden stick lie. The backpack is all ready for the next quest of her passenger's soul. An air of uncertainty floats above her romantic and contemplative mind. ''What's the truth?'' she asks herself in a comfortable anguish. ''My memories are.'' She then tries to compose herself even more by lying on her back, invoking the macadam strangers who are caressing her toes under the starry sky. Strangers' whispers of sweet nothings are engulfing her, but aren't a limit. Quite the contrary. They are now enumerating the toes. It feels like traveling.

She gets up from the floor and begins to plan her next journey. ''Now, my dreams... where would I like to go next?'' she opens her collection of maps and uses her forefingers to close her eyes. Then she uses her ring finger to cross the Atlantic. ''Look, I'm a mermaid...'' she smiles. The whole world lies open under her palms. Just like daddy and mommy wanted; she was spoiled with gifts. Yet, she is deprived of her wishes to go traveling whenever and wherever she wanted. ''A mermaid deprived...'' crosses her mind.
She had to think through and find out a chance, a way to try and finance her voyages on her own.

But, can it be easy, is it feasible?, she contemplates as if paralyzed. ''Am I going to become a waitress or something?!'' Many of her friends wait tables. But it's such a bore! What she needs is freedom, to be free from the shackles of a day's routine. She's unconventional, she thinks. She thinks she's special. She doesn't have any credit no more. All of the fingers and toes have been spent. Life is cruel, she reaches her conclusion. And the world has so much to offer!
The world is a big place, it just sits there and expects somebody -- anybody! Let's go and visit it. But let's go and fall asleep first.

No dreams are coming to her pillow this night, yet many are asleep. She envys them. They have the life they want and need. If only she could be like them! Get up in the morning, have a toast and orange juice, go for a run, take the kids to school, then go to work. She would like to be like that, but where are the macadams and the unforged soil trails in this scenario? Where are the romances and their buildings? Where are the dreams of the ring fingers? Nowhere.
All of these people must be robots. Nothing more than robots. And she doesn't want to end up like them. The pillow is getting softer.

She falls asleep holding her ring finger.

The next morning she visits the local restaurants near her small town. She takes a look through the glasses. She gets a clearer view. She sees happy people enjoying their lunches and dinners. She leaves her favourite pink bicycle, puts a red coat on end enters a restaurant.

''Could you help me, please? I'm looking for a job. I need the money for my next voyages. They are very expensive, you know.''

A waiter is giving her a strange look, and adds:

''Move your bicycle. Is it yours? If it is, move it elsewhere. But not by the post office.'' She overhears the last remark.

She returns to her bicycle and moves it hundred yards away, right by the post office. Strange things will follow.

She comes back to the restaurant, her forehead is sweaty. She's in anguish. But, she needs the money.

''Here I am again. Do you need waitresses?''

The waiter takes a good look at her figure. ''Yes, you could pass as our waitress. Have you worked as a waitress before?''

''No, I haven't. But I need money as I said. I'll be good at waiting tables, you know.'' she's resolute.

''Come tomorrow, and we'll see. Are you sure you'll come?'' the waiter is taking another look at her. Than he takes a pose as if to say: 'you better be good, or we'll kick you out to whatever country you wanna go to'. You know, she's a good interpreter of body language.

Well aware that this is her chance, she presses her fists, feeling her fingers. Than she takes a stroll to her bicycle feeling her toes, pressing them. This gives her a sense of wellbeing. She's sweaty and left-handed, she wipes her forehead and eyes. She's reducing her velocity as she reaches the place where she has left her bicycle.

She thinks: ''Something goes on in the post office -- some kind of hustle an' bustle.''

''On the ground!!!, on the grooouuund!!!'' People are yelling, a shootout takes place. She sits on the bicycle now, a -- what it seems -- large hand holds a large pistol which is being pointed at her forehead. It starts to sweat again. In a dejavu, she spits in the direction of the criminal. She thinks: ''His professional uniform is black. It doesn't stain.'' The attacker wipes the spit off with the bags he's carrying. Other two criminals are aproaching her, talking to her, telling her to forget what she saw, or something. She doesn't know what fear is: all the three of them seem as if she's seen them all before; she sweats and feels no fear. A dejavu happens.

The criminals are shooting in all directions, people are taking shelter behind trees, a wheelchair has been hit... She's a witness to all of this. Yet, she's thinking of all the money that has been stolen. Just how many voyages could I realize with so much money, thinks she as if being a criminal's buddy.

The criminals' van disappears and the hidden men and women, children, appear. She sweats again. She enters the post office. She can see people still lying on the ground, some of them have taken strange positions, one over the other, as if they were dead. Others are shaking. They are asking her who she is, or when is the police going to come. Lights of vehicles are casting shadows within the building. She realizes it's the police and the ambulance.

People with bloody hands are reaching for her shouting for help. She's stepping back. ''No!, no!'' she screams sympathetically. Suddenly she's being grabbed from behind by an officer and pulled aside. ''You're in our way!'' he shouts. She is stepping back some more, she's in someone's way again: ''Okay, okay...!'' she stutters condescending to the paramedics. She reaches her bicycle and leaves the place. It's 12:04 pm. A chopper is buzzing.

She's heading home asap.

When she gets home, she tells her daddy and mommy what's happened. Both of them live in worlds of their own, she's convinced that they do. This freaks her out -- always: they never believe what she says.

''So, a gun was being pointed at your head? So what?'' mommy sits in front of a turned off TV set.

''Hey, I'm your daughter, you have to believe me. I'm the victim of your upbringing, you know. It's not about you or daddy. Haven't you seen the news? And: it's a small town, too.''

''Listen to your mother, and you'll have a bigger allowance.''

''Hey... I got myself a job today.''

''How, when?'' daddy asks. Mommy raises an eyebrow.

''Was it during the shootout?''

''No, mommy, before.''

''Have you been drinking again?'' mommy asks.

The questioned one is silent.

''Does this mean 'yes'?''

She goes to her room, and takes her favourite position on the floor. She spreads her arms and legs and forms a star. She presses her fingers and toes. She lets it go. She waits for the night to come. In that mood, she falls asleep on the floor. She dreams about the day to come.

The night passes fast, so sooner rather than later, she pays the restaurant a visit.

It seems as if she's awake again.

This time it's another waiter she needs to address. The waiter stands by the entrance to the restaurant, cigarette in his mouth. Hello, she says. He's absent-minded. ''The poor bastard got shot yesterday. He was a good guy, stiff at times though, if you know what I mean. He got shot in a barn. The papers say he'd been the bad guys' accomplice. It all happened a hundred miles away.'' With a swing, he throws the cigarette butt on the ground. ''In a barn.'' he repeats.

Has she ever dreamed about a barn? Yes, she has. She's sweating again.

''I don't suppose I could work here though.'' She pulls herself fast together.

''No, no. You're welcome to stay and give it a try. We'll have a lot of guests tonight, you know. Again, you're welcome, and you give it a try.''

''Now go home and think things through. This is gonna be the restaurant where a criminal used to work in. But, if you're interested in the tips... You'll come.''

''Oh yes. I'm needing the money for my voyages. Every extra buck is welcome.'' she smiles and off she goes, leaving the man to grieve for his friend and colleague.

She reaches the post office of yesterday and spots the blood stains. They are everywhere. On the sidewalk, on the road. On the steps. There are even traces of the thick red fluid on the walls; people were trying to stay upstanding. She puts her palms on two traces of red palms. Her palms fit perfectly.

''Were those palms mine?'' she asks herself. ''I suppose we'll never know, it all happened so fast.''

She reaches the park -- bullet marks on tree trunks. Some of them are deep. You could put your ring finger inside them. She does that. She doesn't feel anguish, or sweat. ''Yesterday was such an exciting day.'' she thinks.

She'll never find out what the night has in store for her.

The night comes. Hustle an' bustle again. Guests coming from all over the place. Chefs' red faces depict the number of hungry, excited people. Waiters slip and break glasses, plates. They curse.

Yet, there is a special feeling in the air. Death can be such an aphrodisiac sometimes.

The new waitress comes and meets her colleauges.

''Well, this is your fire christening!'' a friendly waitress is laughing and shaking hands with the new one.

''Yes, I dream of fire many times. I'm ready.'' The laughing waitress becomes buffled, silent.

''Teach me!'' the new one motivates the silent one.
''Here! Try something less demanding for starters!'' someone shouts through the noisy business.

She turns her head and spots the waiter she met this morning. She smiles. He smiles back. ''Come!'' he's calling her. As she reaches the place he's at, he hands her over some plates. ''Ops! Something's dripping! Be careful; it might start dripping on you.''

''What the hell...'' she's perplexed.

''We know who your parents are -- they're sitting there, on the left side. You see the large red rose over there? They are right behind it. Take this to them!''

It feels like a dream again. She's panicking. She's holding her ring finger, she wants to wake up. The plates are heavy. Something's dripping... and it's red.

''Is this tomato sauce I'm carrying?'' she asks a colleague. ''Nope.'' he answers.

''Has he got big fangs or am I imagining things? Wake up, wake up...'' She reaches her parents.

''Oh, dear,'' her mommy says, ''I knew you'd make a great waitress. Give us that to eat now, won't you.'' Mommy is unusually kind. This can't be right. She's strange. Wait?! What?! She's wiping her nose with a bill?!

''I'll give them to eat, then I'm outta here!'' she thinks. ''Hopefully I'll get back home sound and...and sane!''

She puts her cloths back on and swerves in the kitchen, looking for the waiter she first saw this morning.

She meets the fangs guy again and asks him about the waiter. He's setting his file aside, and points at the restaurant cold room.

She opens the door to the cold room. She can see the waiter looking for something.

''Hey, I wanna go home, I don't think this is the right place for me to work...''

''Are you a quitter? Can't you see that we've changed your mommy for you? They aren't hungry any more.'' he says with a trustworthy voice.

''What was about to drip on me? I was carrying something in a plate and it almost began to drip on me.''

''Those were your dreams.''

''My dreams?''

''Yes. Wake up now. Just snap out of it, nothing really happened.''

''What do you mean?''

''I mean...your mommy is just making you a pizza.''

''Are you saying that all my wishes, dreams, and thoughts are about a -- pizza?''

''That's right. She's put a wedding ring inside the pizza too.''

''You can't be serious?''

''Wake up and smell the roses, Angelica.''

She wakes up, goes to the kitchen and has some of that pizza, asking herself where exactly in the pizza the wedding ring might be.

While chewing the tasty pastry, the logical thought crosses her mind: ''Am I still dreaming?''