III – Jenny and Carol in the Restaurant
“Helloooho…pickup…picking up the food for the customers…food…ready…pickup,” said Charlie in a falsetto voice as he placed the French Toast with bacon on the service station. Jenny looked up from the counter. She had been lost in her thoughts.
“Time to go,” she thought as she picked up the order. The time to go had been weeks ago. She knew it, but couldn’t build up the nerve. “Fuck him,” she thought to herself, which made her almost well up with tears. She took a deep breath. “Service with a smile,” she thought.
She picked up the greasy dish and brought it to table four. The woman at the table looked up at Jenny, very happy the dish had arrived hot. Jenny grabbed on to the good feelings, for a fleeting second. “Enjoy!” said Jenny with a smile on her face.
“Woo hoo!” thought Carol as she treasured the steam rising off the French Toast with bacon. Grabbing the maple syrup her smile broadened, if that was possible. As she looked up to say thank you, she caught and odd look from the waitress. Like she was the last specimen of some exotic animal being observed. The waitress had a sad look on her face. “Thanks. Is everything OK?” Carol asked softly.
“Yeah, I’m fine…boyfriend problems.” replied Jenny making a quick wave with her hand. She had brought her bags with her. She had left the day before, leaving a letter saying goodbye. He wouldn’t come after her, even if he was drunk.
It was early so her three to seven shift only had a little to go. Jenny wished it was busier. Then she could just be drowned in her work. Instead it was slow and inching its way by. She sat back down at the counter and took at her picture.
Her plan was to go to her Aunt’s house. Though her mom was long gone she knew about her Aunt who lived in Connecticut. She was just going to show up. How frightening that was for her as she imagined knocking on the door of house she had never seen. To an Aunt she had never seen except for and old picture she had.
It was of her mom and her aunt at the seashore. Both had wide smiles on their faces. Young women with so much ahead of them. She wished she had been there, just to watch them. Watch her mom.
“Better to ask for forgiveness that permission”, she thought to herself. Her Dad had taught her that. Jenny imagined her Aunt putting on the exact same smile when she realized who Jenny was. So wide, inviting and unconditional. The smile she always pictured on her mom when she looked at the picture.
Between bites, Carol couldn’t help watching the waitress at the counter. She was looking at a picture and obviously lost in her thoughts. She didn’t even notice Carol’s stare. Carol couldn’t see the picture too well.
Carol thought about John. He had gone running early on the beach as part of his new health kick. He had never been to the beach and thought he would watch the sunrise while running. Carol asked about breakfast, but he said he’d grab something when he got back before they went out.
“You go ahead, honey, and enjoy your oatmeal. On second thought, grab me an apple or two if they have them,” he said as he ran out into the darkness.
“Sure, honey,” she said as she watched his silhouette disappear in the distance. “Fool,” she thought to herself and wrung her hand diabolically as a wide smile spread across her face.