50 Plates of Brunch
Disclaimer: This should in no way be taken seriously. Any resemblance to previously written works of romantic fiction is purely coincidental. Thanks to my friend Frosty for giving me this idea. I also almost called it: “50 Plates of Brunch: a Cereal Short Story” but I thought that would be punishment. Sorry…couldn’t resist that one.
Sidney watched him from across the restaurant, poking at the last of her scrambled eggs and waiting impatiently for the fresh fruit she ordered that never came. He quietly asked customers’ names as they ordered and rang them up quickly and efficiently. The café by day and upscale restaurant by night had no separate kitchen, all the food was cooked in the open and ice for the drinks was scooped unceremoniously out of a red igloo ice chest. He occasionally scanned the café, making sure everything was as it should be. She took another bite of her eggs that were almost cold and drank some more of the ice cold water, trying to rinse the taste of the cigarettes from the night before. She only smoked when she drank too much and someone offered her a cigarette in the surreal glow of a lighter. The smell of the smoke always took her back to France, to the perpetual scent of tobacco, bread, and sunlight that hovered under the café umbrellas. Sidney knew the taste would be on her tongue for the rest of the day and that the headache that was starting under her cheekbones would spread as the day went on. The water helped momentarily, but it couldn’t completely dispel the cottonmouth feeling the combination of vodka, nicotine, and a hint of marijuana left behind.
She sighed and smiled across the table at her friends as they joked about the night before and recalled events that were, thankfully, somewhat fuzzy to her. The smell of maple syrup from one of the girl’s French toast was cloying and she leaned slightly away from it, staring into the bottom of her coffee mug where a teabag slumped in the dregs of the once-hot water. Sidney caught herself watching him again, admiring the way his dark hair was just long enough to cover the tops of his ears and to have that tousled look. His gaze slid past hers and she looked away, laughing as her friends glanced over their shoulders to take a peek. They were acting like teenagers, checking out some cute college guy in the mall food court. She rolled her eyes at herself and turned back to the remains of her brunch in time for her friend’s boyfriend to steal the last of her toast and cram it into his mouth. Her friend Catherine was scanning her iPhone for movie times with her roommate Allison as Richard and Monica bitched at each other good-naturedly. They were always bickering; Monica would say something idiotic and Richard would roll his eyes in an overly dramatic expression of martyrdom. Sidney shifted in her seat, annoyed at the three of them, especially Allison who was whining about something for the umpteenth time that morning.
“Like, literally, this is the most hung-over I’ve ever been. I literally think he was trying to get me plastered,” she complained to Catherine, pushing her thick dark hair away from her pointed, pixie face.
“Well, you did go home with him,” Catherine pointed out, her normally cheerful tone tinged with jealousy.
“I mean, yeah. But like, literally nothing happened. I was so drunk that we just like cuddled and went to bed. But he is literally the cutest guy I’ve ever been with. And he’s literally so nice.”
Sidney blinked and avoided looking at Richard who was tallying the number of times Allison said “literally” by holding up his fingers and wiggling his eyebrows at her. Allison never noticed.
“I think I’m going to pass on the movie,” Sidney said, taking another huge gulp from her glass of ice water and sneaking another look at the gorgeous cashier by day and maitre d’ by night.
“But Sid, it’s supposed to be so good!” Catherine protested, looking up from her phone at last.
“I heard it’s like literally the funniest movie of the year. Literally,” Allison said, looking at Richard in confusion as he burst out laughing.
“Wait is this the one with the guy?” Monica asked.
They all laughed at Monica protested that she hadn’t gotten to finish what she was saying and tried to remember the name of the actor. Which was completely pointless since he wasn’t in the movie anyway. In the end, Monica and Richard decided to go along to the movie with Catherine and Allison. Sidney stayed firm in her decision to stay behind, claiming that she had a book to finish before class and a long-overdue conversation with her mother. As they left the restaurant, she drank the last of her water and crumpled her napkin in a ball. She toyed with one of her earrings as she pretended to read through emails on her phone, skimming them and quickly consigning them to the trashcan as she peered over the top of the screen at the nameless but undeniably attractive cashier. She wondered if he was the owner of the place. He seemed like he could be. Young, confident—not too high and mighty to run the register. He did forget her side of fruit…for which she paid an outrageous $4.85. But in the grand scheme of things that was nothing. He was busy, and absentmindedness could be adorable. Plus, she was certain that behind the aqua blue eyes and beneath the perfectly tousled hair there was a brilliant mind. He was probably witty and sarcastic, with just the right hint of gentleness. Sidney just knew that he was no ordinary waiter. He must be smart to come up with the idea of a casual brunch restaurant for the daylight and a swanky diner locale for the night. In a town known for its restaurants that never sleep and are always willing to serve breakfast to the sleepless, it was genius.
Unable to procrastinate and finding her inbox cleaner than it had been since she purchased her phone, she gathered her things and got up from the corner booth. Unintentionally, she told herself, her eyes sought out the object of her restless thoughts and their eyes met.
“Thanks for coming, have a great day,” he said.
“Thanks, you too,” she replied, throwing him a smile.
“Come back sometime,” he said as she walked through the door.
She smiled wide as she pulled her sunglasses down to block out the blazing sun. He didn’t have to ask; she would be back and not just for the omelets.