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Funny Romance Drama

“Ah, but thou art but a wayward minnow!” 

“That sounds like a weird indie band.” 

“Silence, young fool! I have not time for your unnecessary quandaries.” 

“Would you stop talking like that, please, Liam? You aren’t Shakespeare. You aren’t a member of the royal English court in the 15th century. You’re a college dropout working at a Waffle House in Kentucky. So shut up.”

Liam swung the dishrag to the counter and glared across the room at his coworker, Feifer. She yawned. It was late. They both wanted to go home. They couldn’t yet, though, because a group of high schoolers coming home from their junior prom had decided to stop by. What a delight. Liam hated high schoolers, with their little “hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future.” 

He scratched at his left eyebrow, glad for once that his uniform was white and would therefore blend any dandruff that fell from above his eyes. Man, high schoolers were just as annoying as he’d remembered. Why was that girl still wearing her high heels? The dance was over. This was a turned chapter in their lives. The sooner they started reading the next headlines, the better. Feifer saw him glaring at their customers and laughed. 

“Are you jealous?” Her dark blonde hair had fallen in strips around her round and warm with waffle smoke face. “What? You never had a date to prom, Romeo?” 

“I did. I went with my English teacher and we monitored the punch bowl for any sight of potential spikage.”

“That’s not a word. Spikage is not a word.” She yawned again and stirred a pot of grits. The high schoolers had ordered a whole darn lot of the stuff, and she could tell they were getting impatient. “That’s so boring, though. You really went as a chaperone?”

Liam nodded down at the hash browns he was preparing; scattered, smothered, and covered. “Yeah, I did. Know it’s hard to believe.” He looked up. “Why? Were you the prom queen or something?” 

Feiffer knew it was irrelevant to her life now, but she had been the prom queen at least twice. That wasn’t even mentioning her stint on the homecoming court. She didn’t want Liam to feel too bad, though. “Mm, something like that.”

One of the high school guys was waving his too tightly tuxedoed arm around in the air like a constipated chicken, so Feiffer and Liam played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would attend to the kid’s needs. Liam lost. He walked over to the table with his arms crossed and said, “How may I help you?”

The kid looked at his buddies across the table and then, after reconfirming his plans, said to Liam, “Can I ask you a question, man?”

“Do I look like your therapist?” 

“Woah, hey, no need to be snippy with me, dude. It’s just a question.”

Liam was so close to taking the glass of water and dumping ice down the back of that kid’s shirt; seeing the shocked expression on his face would’ve been an excellent confidence boost, but decided against it when he considered how much he needed his job. “O-kay. Shoot. What’s your question?”

“So, uh,” Liam could tell the kid was nervous. He gritted his teeth. “Um, why,” he glanced at his friends again and they all nodded him on, “Why isthefloorinthebathroomssostickyandwhyarethererattrapsinthekitchen?” 

Liam picked up the water and poured it on the high schooler. Then he walked back to the kitchen, picked up the hash brown he had been preparing, and brought them back to the table.When he got there, the students were all sizzled and screaming about the injustice that had befallen their friend. “Your hashbrowns.” He set the plate down on the table and turned around to leave. One of the other guys called out for him to stop and he did, halting and spinning on his heels quicker than a youth group on potluck Sunday. “Yes?”

“Hey, like, I get that this isn’t Chick-fil-A, so the customer service can’t be, like, amazing cause that’s copyrighted or whatever, but you can’t just pour water all over our friend here.” 

Liam blinked. “You want me to answer his question, don’t you? You want me to give all you little snot nosed maniacs the sheer satisfaction of seeing me humiliated because my workplace has sticky floored bathrooms and rat traps? You want to see me crumble like a snowflake in July?” He knew Feiffer could have stopped him, but she wasn’t. She was listening, watching her coworker get louder and louder. “Well, I’m not going to let that happen. You know why?” He pointed at the girl in heels. “Do you know why?”

“No, no, I really don’t have a clue.” 

Lima nodded. It was taking all he had within his body to not jump up on the table and tap dance discount sneaker sized holes all over it. “Yeah, that’s right. You don’t have a clue. You don’t know what it’s like to work here. You don’t know how much FUN I have. See that kitchen? It’s like my second home. The food I make there manages to make most people happy, and I like seeing them smile.” He tugged at the front of his uniform. “This uniform means I’m part of a family. See that girl over there? Her name is Feiffer. And she’s my sister.”

One of the girls looked back and forth from Liam to Feiffer. “Uh, then how come she’s pretty and you’re- um, aesthetically challenged?” 

“She’s not my ACTUAL sister! I just meant we’re family. United by waffles, birthed by one hiring manager, Mike. Yeah.” Liam was slowing down. “Yeah. I love it here. I love it. You know what else, though? The floors are sticky, but that’s just another excuse to stay longer. The rat traps are here, but only because sometimes brats like you guys decide to raid the castle and need their toes snapped off by metal snapclaws.” He narrowed his eyes at the ice boy. “You know you could never resist that cheese, Ralphie Mataca Jr.” 

“My name is Rian.” 

“I don’t care. I don’t care if your name is Bonbon Lumpkinella. 

You’re a rude group of kids.” Liam took a deep breath. “And you don’t deserve the Waffle House way of life. So apologize or leave.”

“Just like you left college?” The kid in the back row of the table said. He picked a piece of dried syrup out of the corner of his crumble muffin lips and smirked. He thought he’d done it now; he thought for sure Liam would start or cry, or quit, or quit while he was crying, but that was not the case. Liam stood firm.

“Why did you come here if you hate it so much?” 

A timid girl wearing a Pepto-Bismol pink dress said, “He chose it because none of us can afford IHOP.” 

Liam shook his head. “No. No, you chose it because unlike IHOP, we’ve never almost changed our name to IHOB, international house of burgers. Our sign may be broken sometimes, but we know who we are in our hearts. You can call it Affle House, but that’s not who we are. You can call me a lame college drop out, but that’s not who I am. You chose Waffle House because even though the health department may disagree, we are healthy not just for nourishing the body, but for comforting the soul.” 

Feiffer decided to step in and help Liam, but as soon as she opened her mouth, he held up a hand and marched right on with his speech. “So how dare you come to this place and disrespect us like this? Do you go to church on Sundays and spit in the communion plate because the floors are old and they creak when you walk inside? No! Do you tear pages of a library book just because it has chili or blood stains on the inside cover? No, you do not! Do you kick a dog because he doesn’t have a leg? Stick your head in a toilet and the cry when the water pressure was way better than you thought it would be? No, toothpick kid, no you don’t.”

Feiffer nodded. “Yeah, so why are you coming here and bothering us because of our flaws instead of embracing our excellences?” She pulled the bill out of her apron and slapped it down on the table before scribbling an extra fee of eighteen dollars for “excessive behavior of a hateful nature towards the institution.” 

“Pay up.” 

The high schooler reluctantly forked over the extra eighteen dollars; even the toothpick kid and Rian the ice bucket champion. 

After the group left, Liam and Feiffer sat next to each other on the counter, eating leftover grits from the pot they had never served and swinging their legs in triumph over evil. 

“Nothing new under the sun, Liam.”

“All in a day’s work, Feiffer.” 

He glanced at his coworker. “You’re still a wayward minnow, by the way.”

She rolled her eyes. “Good, because  you’re still not Shakespeare.” 

He set the forkful of grits back in the pot and reached for Feiffer’s hand, glad for once they weren’t really related after all. “What was wrong with that crowd?” 

She rubbed her thumb loosely in circles around the inside of his palm. “They were jealous, probably.”

“Of what?”

“I dunno. Your vocabulary?”

Liam smiled. “You sure it wasn’t my dashing good looks and charms?”

“Like that one girl said, you’re aesthetically challenged.”

“Ah, my heart.” Liam hopped off the counter and pulled Feiffer with him. “Where would you like to go now that the night is ours?” 

“You know I hate it when you talk like that, Liam.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know!” She dropped his hand. “Like we’re dating or something.” Liam bit his bottom lip. “Because we’re not.” 

“I know, but you stood up for me tonight against those guys and that was sweet and-”

“And what? I’m your sister, now?” 

Liam threw his hands up. “No! I was trying to make a point! That I love it here.” He waved a hand around the small Waffle House. “That I love working with you.” 

“Well, I hate to tell you like this, but I won’t be working here much longer. School starts soon, and I’m going back. Philadelphia can’t wait forever.” Feiffer attended college in Philly and she was indeed leaving soon. She had left her two weeks notice at the office three days ago. “So the Waffle House Romance Show is over.”

“Will there ever be a cast reunion?”

Feiffer locked the back door to the restaurant. “I don’t know. Maybe. What are you doing at the end of summer? Going to keep working here?”

“Uh, yeah. I don’t have anywhere else to go.” 

“Unless you came with me to Philadelphia.”

Liam’s eyes shot wide. “You just said we weren’t dating!”

“I know, sorry, we obviously are. Remember, you gave me a gift card to Starbucks last month and we both know those chai chai mocha espresso moonlight by the glint of the stars with extra whipped cream no fat milk just skim please and would you hold the strawberry flavoring chocolate sunday specials cost a pretty penny these days. That was when I knew for sure.” She was emboldened by her mini TED talk and turned to face Liam once more, wrapping her arms around his neck and stepping on his Broadway quote covered sneakers. 

“When you knew what?” 

“That I wanted to make Waffle House a Waffle Home.” 

“Aw, that was a terrible line.”

“Ugh, I know. Usually that’s your forte, not mine, but you know, getting out of your comfort zone can be a good thing.” She leaned forward until their foreheads touched and she could smell the smoky scattered hashbrown steam still stinking up his uniform, dripping from his very clogged pores. “So what do you say? Let’s get married?”

“Aren’t we moving  a little fast?”

“No, Romeo and Juliet got married within three days. We’ve known each other at least all summer. I’d say, in Shakespeare time, that should mean we’re already in our Golden Years.”

Liam kissed her and pulled the strands that framed her face lightly, just enough to give her an excuse to stay.  

August 19, 2020 05:16

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63 comments

Kristin Neubauer
20:20 Aug 22, 2020

What a fun story, Rhondalise! You've created a great character in Liam - he seemed to explode off the page (screen) and I was rooting for him all the way. That takes skill because he could have come off as a meanie if you hadn't written him so well. But he was fantastic and your writing is fantastic and I enjoyed the story from beginning to end.

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19:48 Aug 19, 2020

Witty with a lot of great movement. :)

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Rhondalise Mitza
03:18 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks, Joshua. :)

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Robin Melton
17:03 Sep 17, 2020

I loved this! I, years ago when I my children were tiny babies, worked as a Waffle House waitress in a couple of different places in Kentucky. Order over-medium plate scattered, smothered, covered, diced on two, make one raisin, the other wheat. One sausage. One bacon. Your story was awesome. I just kept reading, wondering if Liam was gonna throw his apron in the garbage or throat punch one of those kids. And your character was correct: We were like a little family. We shared ups and downs, losses and gains, and we loved each other like brot...

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Rhondalise Mitza
17:17 Sep 17, 2020

Ah, that's so beautiful! I'm glad to have captured the spirit well. I've never worked at Waffle House but always wanted to. My dad said I can't work there because there could be rough crowds which I understand because the college is right across the street, but maybe one day. Until then, my stories will suffice. Thank you so much for reading!

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