Exercise: Write a scene in which a waitress is forced to handle the lunch rush alone. At the same time, her boyfriend, the fry cook, begins to argue with her.
The sound of the bell crashed through her body bouncing off the back of her eyes, careening down her sternum and slamming into her heart.
She shut her eyes closing out the too bright light coming through the curtainless windows joined garishly by the rays of the open sign. She wished she could stay in the darkness behind her lids.
“Ma’am. Excuse me, Ma’am.” A bony hand reached out and grabbed her arm. Her eyes flew open but it took a moment for her eyes to lose their loamy veil.
“I need more coffee,” Ray, a 78 year old, regular said his voice small and tiny. She had tried numerous times to reconcile this small, shriveled old man with the stories of a Korean War hero she had heard since she was young.
“Of course,” she replied gingerly taking the cup from his hand, his fingers so fragile she was afraid if she was too rough they would snap off in her hand.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
She turned slowly towards the sound desperately wishing she could go back into the darkness. But she couldn’t. Peter glared at her from between the polished stainless steel and the papers clipped above flapping from the force of the heat in the back.
Four large steps and she was face to face with him. She forced herself to hold his gaze even though her insides shrank into her feet. She had only asked for what she needed. He was the one that was being unreasonable. He had no right to judge her or to make her working hours hell. After all, there were so many of them. She was tired. Her feet hurt. Every cell in her body wanted to run out of the door, jump into her VW and disappear. But she wasn’t going to run. Not this time. She held his gaze, grabbed the two plates and turned away.
The front door bell tinkled as a family came in. Dressed up they must be just coming from church. Great, the Sunday crowd, she thought knowing that this family was just the beginning. Damn you, Jeff. She couldn’t believe that he had called five minutes before his shift apologizing but telling her that he wasn’t going to be there.
“I having a seeing problem,” he said laughing at his own words. “I can’t see myself coming to work.”
She had met his words with silence. Experience told her engaging with him wasn’t going to get her anywhere. She just clicked End.
“I’ll be with you in just a minute,” she said breezing by the family. She placed the plates in front of the young lovers at table 3. “Thank you,” the handsome dark haired boy with the grey eyes said not taking his gaze off the beautiful blonde sitting across from him.
“Can I get you anything else?”
“No.” Even her voice was beautiful. Rebecca pushed her own dark curly back behind her ear her wrist brushing the grease on her cheek.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
She sat the family and greeted the new patrons who had come in. She headed back to the bell, out of breath. She realized she was still holding Ray’s cup. Shit. She turned and completed that task.
She stood face to face with him.
“We need to talk,” he spit between his teeth.
“No, we don’t,” she found the strength to say.
She served the food. She refilled Ray’s cup again. She came back to the door greeting even more customers. “Follow me,” she said smiling only with her mouth. Turning, a reflection of flames in the front windows greeted her.