To Each Their Own

March 4, 2008
By Guanghui Wang, Mountain View, CA


“No.” My chin jutted out stubbornly as I gazed determinedly at Chase.

His grin was pure wickedness. “It’s your table. It was your idea to switch to odd. Have fun.” Chase winked.

“Liar. Our deal was that you would take the self worshipping snobs if I served the rich airheads.” I argued.

“Yeah, well, she looks like both of those.” Chase smirked before darting into the kitchens.

Damn it. I eye her warily from behind the counter. There was a look of long suffering plastered across her face as she drank, no, sipped, at her water glass. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that she wanted to sprint out of this place.

Oh well. At least I can enjoy her pain, I thought, a twinkle growing in my eyes as I dragged myself over to her table.

“May I help you, miss?” I drawled, my head twitching to the side to move my hair back from my eyes.

I could almost hear her complimenting herself in her head as she looked at me warily. Ever self loving, even in times of great distress. I fought a laugh but could not help the ridiculous grin that came over my face.

“I’d like the bear claw.” Her nose was parallel to the ceiling as the haughty words slipped out of her mouth. Okay, my amusement is rapidly fading into annoyance.

My hand scratched at my apron, which is my habit when facing irritating customers.

“Anything else for you, madam?” I said, eyes darting about to gaze upon anything but her snobby expression.

Her next comment took me aback.

“Anything else worth eating?” She quipped, a malicious gleam in her eyes.

My eye twitched at her impertinence. Not that I’m too surprised, since her attitude is easily read through her face, but I didn’t expect her to be so straightforward.

Now I just wanted to get the hell out of there. And strangle Chase. He always makes some dumb excuse to make me serve the annoying customers. And then he whines about my churlish demeanor afterwards.

“I’ll take that as a no, then.” I snapped, walking briskly away.

As I passed Chase at the dishwasher, he laughed happily at my expense. The part of me that was pleased to see a friendly face managed to constrain my fingers from making a vulgar sign at him.


My fingers wrapped around the fat, frosted glass. I wrinkled my nose in distaste as I drank delicately, taking care to insure that my lips touched the glass as little as possible. I pondered my reasons towards stepping inside this bacteria sanctuary. The only motive I had against speedily leaving this pathetic excuse of a diner was my obstreperous stomach and the lack of other restaurants in this neighborhood.

Hmmph. My eyes skimmed the grease stained menu and I quickly decided on having something cooked thoroughly (as opposed to say, Caesar salad), as a safeguard against the pathogens that unquestionably lurked about in the kitchen. Perhaps the bear claw?

“May I help you, miss?”

My eyes flicked up to soak in the sight of a messy haired guy, probably in his late teens. His eyes shone suspiciously bright for someone working at a distasteful diner.

Huh. He was probably just excited to converse with me, in contrast the heavily tattooed hooligans occupying the other table.

My mouth twisted into a self satisfied smirk as he grinned unabashedly at me.

“I’d like the bear claw.” My stomach would have to be satisfied with a snack, as I can’t cope with eating an entire meal at this place.

The corners of his mouth dragged south. I guess he wanted some more enthusiasm from me…sorry kid, I’m not impressed.

“Anything else for you, madam?” His hand grazed his yellowed apron, leaving a faint gray mark.


“Anything else worth eating?” I questioned cleverly. Surely that would win another grin.

His eye twitched, instead. Was it a sad attempt at a wink? Probably. What else could it be?

“I’ll take that as no, then.” To my surprise, he promptly turned on his heel and left.

An odd specimen, he was. I know my charms affect people at their first glance. Most people displayed their affection through lengthy talks, hoping they’d impress me with intelligence or wit.

Perhaps he is shy in my overpowering presence…or embarrassed. Yes, that’s it. He’s embarrassed that he works in such a dingy place like this.

I smiled smugly. Sometimes I amaze even myself with my brilliance.


“I’m surprised your skin hasn’t singed yet.” Chase whispered from cryptically from behind me, causing me to jump and bang my shin against the leg of a chair.

A hiss of pain whistles through my lips. “What. The. Hell.” I spit out, shooting him a dark look.

Chase grins playfully. Nothing I, or anyone else for that matter, do ever seem to faze him much. Chase resides in his own world, filled with blooming daisies and dimpled girls with bright eyes. I, unfortunately, am reduced to being the receiver of strange comments for five hours every Saturday (courtesy of Chase).

But I have him to thank for this job, since Jake (the Jake of Jake’s Diner) is his uncle. It explains why Chase hasn’t been fired.

“Since when do you talk in riddles?” I say bitterly, rubbing at an unidentifiable stain on the counter with a dirty rag.

Chase’s finger darts out to poke viciously at my shoulder. “Why so bitter, Elle?”

My face distorts at the unflattering nickname. “Elliot. Not Elle.” I emphasize, throwing him a murderous glance.

Chase smiles innocently. “She’s been staring at you for a while now. Looks like our Ellie has an admirer.” His eyebrows wiggle suggestively.

I mentally gag, for a couple of reasons. “Don’t ever call me that again. And remind me again, why do I care what she does?”

“Well, you can bring her the check. You know, save yourself the grief of her sitting there, staring at your gorgeous features.” Chase explains in dramatically slow tones, as if speaking to an especially dull, young child.

Is it my imagination, or did Chase just hit on me? “Excuse me?”

“Her words, not mine.” Chase shrugs.

“And when did you talk to her?”

Chase throws me a dazzling smile. “I read her expression like a novel.” A pinhead would have been able to sense the delight he displayed due to my walking into his “trap”. Chase has this theory that he has a way with words, and he quote “Cleverly plans traps to lure people, like mice, and SNAAPP!” unquote.

I roll my eyes. “Hilarious.” I say dryly. I grab the check before moseying over to her table and letting it flutter onto the table.

“Here’s your check.” I point out the obvious. “I hope your meal was satisfactory.” The words are hollow and I give her embellished nails, buffed and polished under the dull diner lighting, a scornful look.

“You like?” Her fingers flex and she looks up at me coyly. A sudden whiff of perfume smothers me, and I cough.

“Sure.” I mutter, waiting for her to pay, already. The last thing I needed was for the self worshipping Princess to loiter around.

“I’m Cecilia.” Oh, I’m sorry; I must have gone comatose for a while. Did I ask your name, Princess?

“Hi.” I force a smile. My cheeks cramp from the effort.

I am aware of some sort of sick satisfaction practically oozing from her. Drip, drip.

“It’s nice to meet you, Elliot.” I blink. Wait a second…

My face is almost comical in confusion. Like a Sunday cartoon, a large question mark floating beside my head. “Uh…how do you know my name…?” And why can’t you just pay and leave already, I add silently. I mean, doesn’t she have a party to host? A plot to scheme?

I realize my mistake of asking a question (enabling her to provide an answer, therefore allowing her to show off her oh-so mighty intelligence) a few seconds too late.

Princess beams. “It says right here on the receipt, silly.” A gurgling giggle erupts from her. God, what did I do to deserve this?

“Love to chat, but I have to go soon. My shift’s almost over.” The lie flows from my mouth like silk.

Surprise flickers across her face. “But don’t you want to hang out, you know, afterwards? To talk to me?”

What? This girl’s insane! “Not really. You know what, this one’s on me.” NOW LEAVE. I screamed mentally at her.

“You’re so sweet! I’ll be sure to come again sometime.” She smiles and pats my hand, resting on the table, in a ‘friendly’ gesture. Ohhh…kayyy.

“Sure. Bye.” I grumble before practically sprinting into the kitchens.

Chase is casually lounging against a counter, an orange soda in his hand. He snickers at my stricken expression. “I see you two hit it off.”

“Don’t start.” I threaten, crossing over to the mini fridge to grab a soda. I need a serious dose of caffeine to compensate for that scarring experience.


I eyed him appreciatively as I finished my pastry. For a guy working at a grungy diner, he wasn’t too hard on the eyes.

Poor kid. He’ll probably pine after my memory for months. A faint reminder of my sensational presence will pierce his soul every time he glances at this corner.

Oh well, it’s not my problem I’m so remarkable.

I snickered quietly as I play with the idea that he might scribble down his number on my check. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Speaking of check, when was he going to come give it to me? I know I intimidate him a bit, but he’ll be drawn to me sooner or later (under the pretense of giving me my check). Everyone’s drawn to me. Once, during an hour when I was brainstorming ingenious ideas, I concluded that I am a pot of honey, and the world ravenous flies.

All I can do is be a sponge and soak it all up, hoping they won’t drool too much.

A fluttering check pried me from my deep thoughts.

“Here’s your check.” His tone was indifferent as he continued on to mutter something about the meal. I almost sympathized with him. Almost. He must have mustered up a lot of courage to approach me.

I caught him admiring my manicure. I had gotten my nails redone a few hours ago, and it’s always pleasing to be admired.

“You like?” I pointed out the obvious.

A faint cough racks his throat. It must be all the stale air in this diner. I quite detest musty ventilation. “Sure.” He said.

I offered my name as a friendly ‘bone’. My mother always advises to throw a bone to ardent admirers once in a while. My name is a delightful bone, if I say so myself.

“Hi.” He managed to say. Wow. I have yet to meet someone so struck by me. His literacy seems to be diminishing by the second.

Since his reaction to the bone was so amusing, I decide to throw him another, just for entertainment. I glanced at the check for his name. “It’s nice to meet you, Elliot.”

I guess that Elliot is very dull, for his expression is lathered with confusion. It turns out he doesn’t know how I got his name.

It’s so perplexing sometimes, when I realize over and over again: not everyone is a prodigy like myself.

I explain patiently to him.

I think this embarrassed him, this reminder of his stupidity, because he spurts out some nonsense about his shift being over. I’m just surprised he didn’t make up nonsense to spend more time with me. My character tends to grow on people, you see.

“But don’t you want to hang out, you know, afterwards? To talk to me?” I ask curiously.

His face clouds over for some reason. “Not really. You know what, this one’s on me.” He gestures towards the check.

I beam. Such a flattering action like that deserves a scrumptious bone! I reach over and give his hand a friendly pat, and promise him I’ll come visit.

Hmm. He doesn’t show too much excitement, but then again, he’s probably extremely good at hiding his true emotions. Because of course he’s excited. For the future, you know, because he thinks I’ll be in it. Not that I will ever visit this shady diner again. But he doesn’t need to know that. No need to rain on his parade.

After he runs off, probably to brag about me with his companions, a smug smile settles on my lips once again. I slide my shades over my eyes and step out into the refreshingly cool night air.

Watch out world, Cecilia’s here. You won’t know what hit you.

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