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General

Pizza? Check.

 

Netflix? Check.

 

Soda? Check.

 

Everything was ready. Conner’s first day off in weeks. No work. No internship. No college assignments. No test to study for. All the stars had aligned in his crazy hectic world, giving him the blessing of one single day free of responsibility. He kicked his feet up and slouched into his crummy second-hand couch and basked at the moment.

 

Until the moment was all sucked up by a black hole. He knew that ring tone. A high pitched obnoxious sound of birds chirping. The unique ringtone he assigned to his Boss’s number. Why was Jerry calling today? He leaned over the arm of the couch to reach his phone from its place on the floor, managing to catch it at the last ring.

 

“Hey, Jerry.”

 

“Thank goodness you answered!” He winced from the sudden loud voice over the phone, turning down the volume to save his poor eardrum. “I need to ask you a favour.” His heart dropped. He knew what favour meant. Not today, not today!

 

“Isn’t there anyone else that can cover? It’s my first day off in weeks.” Conner dragged the weeks, trying to make a point to his Boss.

 

“I know, and I’m sorry, but I’m getting desperate! Three of my four morning shift waitresses have caught the flu, and all my night and weekend staff are in class.” Jeff pleaded his case. Conner was starting to feel pity, but not enough to cave in yet.

 

“I thought you said that mornings are dead? Shouldn’t one waitress be able to cover until the afternoon?” Conner was still grasping onto his day off, the ropes were starting to slip at this point.

 

“She only started last week, I don’t want to leave her alone just yet. Normally I would just cover, but I’m out of town today!” Those ropes were getting looser.

 

“I don’t know Jeff, I’ve been feeling pretty burned out lately.”

 

“I’ll pay you double time.”

 

That was it. The rope was released. Conner’s day off had crashed and was turned to nothing but a pile of rubble.

 

“I’ll be there in half an hour,” Conner grumbled through his Boss’s thanks and pulled himself from the warmth of his couch. His uniform was still stained with coffee from the night before, but he couldn’t find it in his heart to care. Within ten minutes, his food was cleaned up, and he was forcing himself out the door to work yet another day.

 

********

 

“You must be Conner, I’m Jesse.” A tiny girl shot her arm out to Conner, which he shook to be polite. Conner couldn’t believe that she was 18. It was one excellent babyface.

 

“Yep, that’s me. You know your section?” She nodded and pointed to the left side of the Diner. Conner looked at his side, and there was only one couple there.

 

“I already took their order, so we are just waiting for the kitchen now. Conner offered Jesse a tired smile before groaning to himself. It was only nine, there were six more hours until the night shift came in. Only one customer.

 

It was going to be a slow, miserable day. Conner was regretting answering Jeff’s phone call.

 

********

 

“Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us,” Conner told Jesse as he helped her clean up the shattered coffee cup. She nodded, but Conner could see her hands still shaking. After all the pieces were picked up, he left to grab a mop. Conner thought that this was going to be the climax of his ever so slow shift.

 

That all changed when the door opened for the first time in an hour. At first, Conner was too distracted to notice the new body in the Diner. Once he did see, his eyes lit up. “Finally, something more exciting to do than mop a floor,” he whispered to himself as he pulled his notepad from his apron. He walked over to introduce himself, but he was cut off before he could even start speaking.

 

“You aren’t Amanda.” She hadn’t even looked up from the notebook she was writing in. She wasn’t facing the was he was walking from. Conner was flabbergasted for a moment, before responding in a tone of surprise.

 

“How can you tell?” She looked up from her ratty notebook and smirked at him. Her eyes were shimmering from the light above her. It reminded him of the time he went on a cruise with his family back in high school, ocean water sparkling from the sunlight. Maybe staring at her eyes so intensely was making him come off as a creep.

 

“Amanda always wears killer heels. You can hear her from a mile away.” She took a moment to stare at Conner’s shoes. He started to feel self-conscious as she judged his torn up runners. “You obviously don’t wear heels. What a shame.” Shame?

 

“I’m sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be wearing heels anytime soon. I already have weak ankles.” She snorted and tilted her head.

 

“I feel you.” They exchanged stares as it went silent. “So, are you going to take my order, Conner?” She dragged out the name she read from the name tag. Conner felt like slapping himself. He lifted his notebook and made a gesture with his pen.

 

“What can I get for you this fine day?”

 

“Give me the brunch special along with a glass of coke and rum.”

 

“Pardon me?” Conner had heard what she said but was taken back at the alcoholic order at eleven in the morning. She rolled her eyes and repeated her request. She pulled out her wallet and gave her ID over before he got the chance to ask.

 

“Isn’t it a little too early to be ordering a drink, Miriam?” Conner dragged her name out this time, causing her to scoff at him.

 

“Its 1oz of alcohol, and it is my day off. It’s not like I’m getting hammered, no matter how much I’d liked to do that.” Conner felt some jealousy arise from the mentioning of a day off. Conner must have been very expressive about it, as his customer picked up on it. “Based on the fact that you are here, I’m guessing that you got called in on your day off.”

 

“Yep, but I don’t mind.” He did mind. “I’ll send your order over to the kitchen, Miriam.”

 

“You can call me Mitzi!”

 

A smile found its way onto his face. This shift might become interesting now. Once he approached the kitchen window, he stuck the ticket onto a stand before grabbing the essentials for Mitzi’s drink request. He debated calling Jesse over to show her how to prep a drink but decided that she had already dealt with enough cups for one shift.

 

“One coke and rum” Conner had brought the drink back to the waiting mouth. Mitzi wasted no time and took a sip the second he let go of the glass. She put down the glass and gestured to the seat across from her.

 

“Stay awhile. It’s not like you have much else to do.” She was right. It was a dead Tuesday, and who was he to say no to a pretty lady who wanted to sit with him? After he settled into the booth, he noticed the bandages that were wrapped around her left forearm.

 

“Do you mind me asking what happened to your arm?” Conner subconsciously rubbed a hand up his own forearm. She quickly glanced at her arm, but her face didn’t change.

 

“Oh, this? Some molten glass spilled on my arm a while back. It’s still healing.” Conner had only met Mitzi a couple of minutes ago, and she had shocked him three times in that small timeframe. A new record in his book.

 

“Molten glass!?” Conner had never seen molten glass before, except for the videos one can find on Instagram, where they twirl the glass into different shapes. “How much did that hurt?” Conner could feel himself cringing from the sheer thought of it.

 

“It felt like I stuck my arm into a deep fryer. I don’t recommend it.” Mitzi was now lightly dragging her fingers down the bandages.

 

“How did that happen? Why were you near molten glass anyways?” Mitzi pointed up towards the ceiling at a fancy glass light shade. All the ceiling light shades were the same half-sphere shape, with what seemed to be a watercolour effect from mixed colours of the rainbow. Jeff has always had a weird affinity for glass sculptures. Conner remembered the one time he went to his house to pick up a check, and the living room was covered with just glass. It looked a bit like an antique shop now that he thinks about it.

 

“My dad and I run a glass shop just down the block. I actually made every single light shade in this Diner.” Conner took a moment to look around and count all the glass objects. A glassblower. Not a career that he imagined she had, but it did make sense with her glass burn.

 

“So, you are the one who fuels Jeff’s glass addiction.” That made Mitzi laugh. A beautiful melody in Conner’s ears, he wished it was longer.

 

“Yeah, he has a peculiar obsession with glass. I ain’t complaining. We struck up a pretty sweet deal; He gets free glass, and I get free food. I haven’t paid for lunch in over a year.” Right after she finished, Conner could hear the cook’s bell go off. “Speaking of lunch, go get my food, waiter.” Mitzi leaned back and smirked while Conner pulled himself up and reluctantly left the table. When he got to the window, there were two plates there. Mitzi’s brunch special and his usual break order of squash soup and house salad.

 

“What’s with the extra order?” The cook turned around and gave Conner a look that made him feel stupid.

 

“Go finish your date, take advantage of the emptiness before the lunch rush hits.”

 

“Oh, um, thanks.” Conner’s face was now painted with a red tint as he walked back to the table with the two plates. He felt his heart pound a little harder than usual when he sat back down.

 

“Two plates? Inviting yourself to eat with me, are you now?” Conner started to spit out an apology when she laughed again and waved it off. “Nah, I like the company.” She gave him a sincere smile before starting to dress her pancakes with butter and syrup. “I spilled my life to you, now it’s your turn.”

 

Conner covered his mouth as he swallowed some of the salad. “I’m currently working towards a master’s in psychology.” Conner’s confidence raised a bit after Mitzi expressed her interest.

 

“Wow, a college boy. Colour me impressed, you must be a smart cookie.” Conner rubbed his neck with his spare hand as he chuckled a bit.

 

“I’m just at the university on 45th Street. Taking part-time classes while doing an Internship with a family therapist.”

 

“All that while working at a Diner? What a busy bee,” Mitzi mumbled through a mouth full of pancakes. Conner snorted at the comment.

 

“You can say that again.” Conner was starting to panic; they had already talked about work. He didn’t want them to fall into an awkward silence and kill the mood. They still had half a meal to get through. Think fast! “So, I’m assuming that work isn’t the only thing to do. What do you do for fun?” Conner cringed internally at the lame question, but he just wanted to hear Mitzi talk more. She quickly shoved more food in her mouth before pulling back out her ratty notebook and opening it for Conner to see.

 

“I sketch random people and things I see.” If someone said that a famous artist had drawn them, he would have believed them. He could recognize a sketch of Jesse cleaning up coffee at the table across from where Mitzi was sitting. The detail was immense. She had even captured the fancy French braid she was sporting.

 

“This is amazing! How did you get this good?” Conner flipped through the pages, and his eyes scanned them all.

 

“I was never a good student in school. I always sketched things instead of paying attention. Annoyed the hell out of my teachers, but I never really cared.” Conner gave back the book after a short while of admiring sketches of random strangers and different shops from this block.

 

“Well, I think it’s an amazing talent.”

 

“Aww, you’re making me blush. You got any creative talents?” Mitzi tiled her head as she asked the question. Conner shrugged his shoulders.

 

“I paint a bit, but I’m not any Leonardo Di Vinci.”

 

“I’d still like to see them, you got any pictures?”

 

Conner was happy that he chooses the right topic. It had gotten the conversation going. Even though his pieces looked like a three-year-old painted them, Mitzi still seemed to enjoy looking at them through his phone. Conner thought everything was going good until she looked at the clock and got out of her seat, Conner following in suite.

 

“I got my doctor’s appointment soon, I got to catch the bus.” Conner felt a twinge of sadness in his heart. He didn’t want to say goodbye just yet. He had to do something!

 

“Can I see you again?” Mitzi looked up at him and smiled.

 

“I was just about to ask you the same thing.” Conner let out a sigh of relief. He was glad he hadn’t read their situation wrong. Mitzi grabbed her jacket and notebook before turning back to him. “When is your shift over?”

 

“I’m done at three.”

 

“Great, I’ll be back then.” Mitzi winked and blew a kiss before walking out the door. Right after she left, a group of seven walked in the door. Conner was thankful for their impeccable timing. As he leads the new group to a table, he couldn’t help but feel grateful that he answered Jeff’s phone call.

February 24, 2020 05:15

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8 comments

22:04 Mar 06, 2020

Nice story, fun to read.

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✰ Jessica ✰
15:04 May 22, 2020

Really good story! I have a little feedback for you, I only found one mistake: 'She wasn’t facing the was he was walking from.' Just a little typo, should be 'way' instead of 'was'. Other than the part when Mitzi says how much she annoyed her teachers, I loved this story! You are a great writer!

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Lynn Penny
21:24 May 22, 2020

Thanks! This comment made my day. Editing is my weak point, I always manage to miss something!

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✰ Jessica ✰
16:50 May 23, 2020

No problem! Editing is tedious, so I completely understand!

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Gip Roberts
20:55 Aug 13, 2020

That stomach-sinking feeling of being called in to work. You described it very well.

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Lynn Penny
23:02 Aug 13, 2020

Thanks, I’m glad I was able to capture the feeling.

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Eian Wright
18:21 Mar 29, 2020

Made me smile. Great story.

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Graham Kinross
21:49 Nov 16, 2021

That was cute. I have to say though, no way I would have answered my phone if I was Conner. Employers really abuse the ability to contact employees around the clock. Time off should be sacred. I work a couple of three week straight timetables in my old job and I always felt ill by the end. It’s nice that he met someone but usually you just end up on the verge of collapse.

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