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The Waitress and the Medical Student
Watching her sit at a table alone, bent over a notebook whilst scribbling wildly, with untamed curls draping her face, Benny was hyperventilating from halfway across the diner. Well, not really - it was in a more figurative way. But Benny had been watching the girl with a constellation of freckles and a diner apron scribble into that notebook for an hour rather than doing her own college work. She couldn’t help it; the waitress was quite the distraction.
After an hour, the waitress is finally summoned back to work to serve the group of middle-aged adults who just walked in. They all talked loudly, disrupting the peaceful silence that the diner once upheld. Benny could already see the waitress was aggravated as she attempted to ask them a two times if they preferred a booth or a table. She felt bad for her. The waitress cleared her throat loudly, which summoned the group’s attention, and asked them nicely with a tight smile if they preferred a booth or table. Benny smiled, amused by the disgruntled looks of the adults as the waitress led them to a booth closer to my side of the room. As she took their drink orders, she caught eyes with myself. Her eyes were a warm hazel and her freckles seemed to glow from the light coming in from the window. She smiled at Benny with kindness, unlike the tight-lipped smile she gave the adults. Benny gave her a nervous smile then looked into her cup of coffee which had grown cold.
“Do you need some more coffee?” Benny looked up to see the waitress stood above her, coffee pot in hand and bemused smile on her face. Benny quickly nods and watches the waitress pour more coffee into her cup. Her hands were covered in freckles just as her face was and Benny wonders if freckles covered her whole body. She was snapped out of her thoughts as the waitress slipped into the booth seat across from her, observing her with a curious look. “Not much of a talker, huh? My brother isn’t much of a talker; except with me. Maybe I can get you to talk to me,” the waitress said with a playful smile. Benny felt her ears grow hot. Was the waitress flirting with her or was Benny just mistaking kindness for attempts at romance? Benny couldn’t say anything, she was stuck in shock at the beautiful waitress across from her possibly flirting with her. Maria and Stan would be teasing her up and down right now.
“I’m Haleigh, and you are?” The waitress asks, finally putting Benny on the spot to answer. Before Benny could spit out an answer, Haleigh catches a glance at Benny’s paper. She reads aloud to herself, “Why Medical Laboratory Science is an extremely under-recognized health profession: an article by Beneatha Ferguson.’ Wow this is some tough s*** right here; you must be pretty smart.” Haleigh looked up from the paper to Benny, who shrugged meekly.
“Y-yeah. I mean, I guess. Thanks.” Benny managed to say with minimal stuttering. She gave herself a mind-five at her small accomplishment.
“So, what grade are you in?” Haleigh asks Benny, sorting through her papers. The group of adults keep taking glances over at the two and Benny can only assume they’re ready to get their order taken.
“I’m a, uh, Junior. I-I think that they’re ready to get the-their order taken,” Benny says, looking over Haleigh’s shoulder at them. Haleigh sneaks a glance back and makes eye contact with one of them, who gives her a tight-lipped smile and an eye roll as she goes back to talking with her group.
“Well, if you’ll excuse me, Miss Junior.” Haleigh got up from the table and made her way to the table of adults. Benny almost is relieved that she left so she could prepare herself for Haleigh’s return. She was too shellshocked that she sat across from her to manage out a full coherent sentence without stuttering. At least it wasn’t as bad as when she was a kid - it only showed up when she felt more or less anxious. Benny started reorganizing her papers when she heard a man from the table across the way exclaim loudly.
“Are you a damned idiot? Are you even listening to a word I’m saying? First you bring me out the wrong drink and now you can’t even get my order right? Goddamn. Stupid must be a requirement to work here because I came here about two weeks ago and this girl overdid my steak! After I told her I wanted it medium rare, too. You teenagers are too goddamn caught up in socializing; you over there talking to your little girl friend. It’s goddamn ridiculous.” The diner reclaimed it’s silence from before the party came, except now it was filled with tension you could cut through with a knife. Haleigh’s naturally soft face was tensed with anger and Benny could tell she was grinding her teeth. She felt worry, but she wasn’t sure if it was worry for what might come to the man or Haleigh.
“Sir-” Haleigh began, but was interrupted by a middle-aged woman running up beside her. The woman tapped Haleigh’s clenched hand and Haleigh stood there for a second, glaring daggers into the man in front of her before quickly retreating to a door leading into what Benny assumed to be the backroom of the restaurant. The woman began to apologize to the man and promised him a free lunch for him and his friends, and he seemed so damn pleased. Benny rolled her eyes and began to gather her papers together and put them in her bag. She pressed a ten down on the table, deciding Haleigh needed it more than she did, and walked out of the diner. She pressed earbuds into her ears and played a song from her playlist, drowning out the town’s nosiness around her. She unlocked her bike from the bike rack and looked back into the restaurant, watching the man talk proudly to his friends while the soft-spoken waitress with red hair brought them their food. Haleigh was rubbing down the table that Benny previously sat at, collecting her coffee cup and the ten dollar tip left sitting there. Benny caught the small smile from Haleigh as she tucked the money into her apron and left to the back with the cup and sponge.
A vision of beauty, well I’m caught in a stare
A red light turns green – not even aware
I just can’t help it – I’m daydreaming at night
But just one look and it’s love at first sight
It was love — love at first sight
Benny smiled and thought about what she would say to the girl with a lion’s mane and dazzling green eyes the next time she stopped in to get a coffee while she did her homework.