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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
The death of a loved one has Maryl unsure of whats to come.

Submitted: January 31, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 31, 2017



It’s a ballroom—the restaurant really—with the wait-staff swirling along to the musictrying desperately to keep their composure, or charm at least, while presenting themselves in a way to garner the attention of the onlookers around them; possibly to find that one partner to have an Earth Angel moment in the form of sweet, sweet cash. Michelle was the only one who really slowed the tempo of the routine; fumbling with bowls, sometimes three or four at a time, each containing a scalding broth that produced a steamy shellshock which fogged the lenses of her glasses—and by extension, the tables and faces of those who had an unfortunate draw of luck to sit along her path. It took Maryl seven months to move past that stage of helplessness, and those seven months claimed nine other girls along the way—all but her—which made her wonder if Michelle was going to last for the remainder of the week; though a hope arose that she would when she made a group of guests laugh with a witty self-deprecating joke delivered through an embarrassed smile—one that was often in the repertoire of those who would eventually make it.

Maryl turned away from the train-wrecked babe, and finished punching in an order for another table she had just visited; the one that asked her of her ethnicity, to which she responded American, but later had to revise out of apparent necessity to Latina and then to Mexican because that was the best suited word for people that couldn’t understand why the other two happened to be an appropriate answer, seeing that her parents were both born in Texas, and only one grandparent was an immigrant—from El Salvador. Regardless, she darted to the drink station, collected their beverages, and delivered them to the group without much tension between either party.

“Marri,” A voice from behind—Eddie—hushed with urgency, “I need four ice waters for D3,” and he left without an answer regarding the possibility of that request.

Eddie didn’t interrupt anything, as there wasn’t a need for Maryl to divert any attention away from her guests to understand the favor, so she concluded with her task and headed back to the drink station. There was a ding from the kitchen, and before she could reach the station, her manager, Chris, frantically pointed to the curtained doorway where Michelle emerged juggling another three bowls and her sanity—in the same fashion that the panicked skipper did with the numerous receipts and checks blurred as his black rimmed glasses sank lower on his nose.

As Marri made her way to the kitchen, Sherry—another waitress—tried not to collide with the woman’s shoulder, and dropped a pair of chopsticks that were balancing on a stack of plates she was carrying to the dish cart next to the doorway. Maryl tried to pass off her task to the woman before getting lost behind the curtain, but she ignored her and rushed to the bin, and then to the sticks, and then back to the bin to prevent any other accidents that may have occurred. When Maryl emerged from the kitchen, Sherry, in her best attempts at English, apologized, and shot off towards a table that raised a hand for assistance.

It was a small business, but it received the exact opposite of that term—almost ridiculously so—and it often left Maryl as a flaccid sack of flesh marinating on a grill disguised as a sofa while absorbing another re-run of Modern Family or Married with Children whenever she got home; even though the shifts were only three to four hours each, and if she had to work a double—as she and her coworkers would often do—there would be a two hour break in between shifts because the restaurant would be closed between lunch and dinner; even so, the shifts were nonstop action save for the moments when the full house was eating, but that only lasted for two to three minutes at a time.

Regardless, this was the dinner shift, and Maryl rushed along the aisles of the dining room—roughly twice the size of high school classroom—as the walls pulsed with the energy from the patrons upon patrons enjoying themselves, each other, and each of the dishes that they ordered for the night, laughing together as a family; living in each other’s presence.

Maryl took a table’s order, and was called by another party—they wanted refills—just as a group of teenagers—they wanted separate bills—waved their arms together like an anemone; which seemed to be the reason why the other servers avoided them, out of fear of getting stung with some tedious task, and therefore throwing themselves into an impossible mode of increased frenzy. When she was finally able to make it back from the tables and to the computer to send the order to the kitchen, Maryl attempted to proceed on to the rest of her laundry list of chores, but Chris stepped up with his hand covering the bottom of a phone, donning a hurried look of sympathy on his face as he extended it towards her.

“It’s you,” He said, handing off the phone quickly. His eyes lingering for a bit before he launched back to the desk. He lowered his head to face his work, but watched as Maryl began on the phone.

“Hi, thank you for calling Xin Zhao Noodles,” She read the line without any words before her. “How can I help you?”

“May.” The voice said. “It’s David.”

“This is not the time,” She said, “Shit is going to shit over here. Text— “

“I know, I know, I—”

“Please, just text--”

“I cant text you, I need to actually talk to---.”

She turned her head towards the sound of a broken plate just behind her. There was a momentary silence in the restaurant as a good portion of guests turned to get their peek of the panicked dishwasher’s face.

“Its about Anna. She--”

“Anna’s what?” his voice sounded foreign; tone unfamiliar.

“Anna,” he repeated, “She was hit—an accident or something—some car on the freeway. I don’t know. The police---

She told him to wait. “The police? What are--”

“Her mom, They called her mom as soon as they had a chance, and---I really don’t know May. Im getting all of this from her.”

“Wait,” She shook her head, and blinked to refresh her eyes before asking what had happened.

“They—they said that it looked like this guy cut across, drunk—the fucking drunk— he cut across her lane and sent her over the shoulder. The front end totaled, and she,” he paused, and Maryl found her eyes darting from the tables, to Chris, to Eddie’s charming smile directed towards his audience, Sherry at the front door with menus in hand, Michelle running up to the door—also with menus in hand— but soon running back after noticing that Sherry had it taken care of; a couple at a booth texting; an old woman who sat alone in the booth next to them with a glass of water for one that reflected in the window that the elder found herself peering through; the ring on her hand. “She’s—she didn’t make it. For fuck’s sake, May. I just had lunch with her. I just saw her. I—”

He continued, but she lowered the phone, eyes focused on the door; the bells ringing, people laughing; hands reaching past her and the computer to cross out tickets which hung on the wall, and the sounds of ice mixing in the machine, rattling—all of it was there; all normal. David’s words, no. Obscure—the rattling of forks and spoons. He kept going, and so did the restaurant.

Chris clenched his teeth, and turned away from the view, looking down at the current check. He gave a customer ordering take-out his change, and wished him a good night. He watched as Maryl said a last thing into the phone before she set it down to place an order. A group meandered through the front door, one of them raising just a thumb and pinky when he made eye contact with the manager. Chris grabbed seven menus, and sat them at an open table. It was only eight o’clock. The restaurant closed at ten, and they were already understaffed for the night. With hurried strides back towards the desk, he snuck a glance at Maryl, who received things in a way that made them not the items before her, and instead faded impressions that prompted a second glance before acting upon them. Chris rushed past her and into the kitchen when she didn’t respond to the bell.  He wiped his brow with a napkin, and shoveled green onions with a spoon until he threw a scoop of it on to one of the steaming dishes—which fogged his glasses—carrying it to its destination.

Maryl carried the waters for D3, pausing for a moment just before the table—a breath—and then delivered the water with a closed smile. She dropped off another water to a different table, and on the way back to the computer to print the teens’ checks, she picked up two empty plates designed for the Chow Mein dishes—the square, white plates with sauce splattered Rorschachs started prying; their words foreign, tone unfamiliar— and soon she dropped David off at the dish cart on her way back.

She stared into the computer, splitting the amounts as a mother would a steak or hot dog for a child, and caught sight of the phone lying just below the screen. Her fingers paused before every touch, and—as Newton would argue—she felt the computer touching back, not as some individual entity, but as an object of reality, something with substance, a realness to everything that she was doing at the moment. At the final split of the check, she held her finger on the last button, and pressed it into the screen, holding it there—listening to the restaurant—before refreshing her eyes once more, and darting off to the teens. After dropping the checks off, she walked outside to check the waitlist—two pages; first three: David 3, Richelle 5, Dianna 2—and then re-entered the restaurant. She found Sherry.

“I’ll be right back,” She started untying her apron, “I need to use the restroom.”

“Okay, May.” Sherry said, “Okay.”

Maryl made her way past a row of tables, and tossed her folded apron onto one of the chairs in the hallway that led to the women’s restroom.


She often thought about these moments—the arrival of death—long before they came; a question of time travel that would always be answered with a visit to the gravestones of her loved ones so that she could wrap her arms around the cold monuments of her parents, lovers and companions to remember that feeling for when she would return to her own time period to do the same while they were alive. The thought experiment occasionally left her snapping awake from the idea of hugging her own tombstone, and feeling the heavy rock reflect the beats of her warm-blooded pulse; even more terrifying—the idea of having her pulse continue as she was six feet below the chiseling of Marylin Quintana. She didn’t have the luxury—never could capture it with abstract thought—of knowing how hard the death of a loved one would hit her when it had finally arrived, and it rattled her past her conception of “beyond her imagination.” The situation never stared her in the face as blatantly as she did at herself in the restroom mirror, and though she tried to fool herself into thinking that she could make it through the shift, the wear in her eyes shone past her façade, and eventually pulled their gaze into the dripping faucet. She turned the handle, and let the water flow.

“This place sucks,” A voice said behind her, “and you’re blocking the mirror. Some people have got to look good too.”

Maryl kept her eyes on the running water, but at the voice’s second prompting she turned her attention to the reflection, and soon stepped away from the sink, a heavier emphasis on regulating her breath. She rubbed her eyes and kept her body facing away from the woman now freshening up her face.

“Sushi.” the voice—a woman, abrasive and light—said once more. “I think that place on Naomi and Green is still open. Let’s go. I’m buying. You look like hell.”

“Im not eating right now,” Maryl said. “I can’t eat right now.”

“Why the hell not?”

She let her hands drop to her side before facing the woman. Anna, leaning over the running sink, toyed with her black bob in the mirror. People hallucinate during times of grief, and Maryl understood this too well to believe that Anna had visited her from beyond the morgue; her cold dead body, alone; around other corpses—alone—and abandoned in a penultimate holding facility, mutilated on a steel tray—alone—awaiting a judgment before God. It brought tears to her wilted rose eyes once again, and even though she was alone, Maryl didn’t care that she imagined Anna as the vintage Monroe in some Chinese restaurant; it was what she’d rather see her friend as for the night.

“I can’t eat right now.”

“That isn’t a reason in and of itself,” She retrieved a brush used for blending from her purse, “you’re off right?”


“But you want to be?”


“For me?” Another affirmation.

“Well, tell ‘em you want to leave,” she said. “Let’s go see David.”

“I can’t—I don't want to see David.”


“No. Im not—I’ve still got work.” Her answer turned Anna.

“You don't want to see anyone.” She admired her canvas, and put her tool away. “I bet you’d rather not deal with anyone. Am I right?” The woman in the mirror admired the woman that wasn’t there, and cringed at the sight of a discoloration on the back on her right cheek bone, so reached for her tool kit and began working once more.

“They’re idiots,” Maryl admitted, “My mother; she’d cry over celebrities—I think I told you this a while back—and I think the first time I saw her actually cry, I mean like cry-cry, was when Regis Phillips was in that plane accident in 2004. That was three years after 9/11, and I remember her just being a stone then—a stone in the kitchen with the T.V. playing the whole thing on repeat. She could’ve known someone in that mess, but that idea never crossed her mind. We’re shown these people, previously unknown to us with no prior connection or impact upon our lives, and an entire news day is dedicated to their legacy; yet you’ll maybe get a five-minute traffic report diminishing it down to heavy congestion on the 405. I can’t see why Prince’s eulogy gets the same treatment as Pearl Harbor. I may be blind, and it may be right there in front of me, but whenever I put the rose-tinted shades on—the ones that my mother and the world put on when weeping over people who wouldn’t do the same for them—I can always see a thumbprint on the lens. I can’t do that sort of thing.”

“So making friends involves sunglasses?”

“No, It’s a metaphor as to why I shouldn’t trust my feelings because—“

“—because you’re just afraid to cry.” Anna turned away to continue packing on makeup “I’m in shock, I really am. Do you think that I’m an inconvenience seeing that I’m digging all of this up while you’re at work?”

“I don’t want to say yes, but I didn’t want to deal with this now, and at this point I don’t know if I would’ve ever been at a moment where I could deal with it. Anna, I could get fired right now, so yes—in a way.”

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “Even after I’m dead, you’re still trying to kill me.”

Maryl’s illumination began to dim with the conception of twin streams beginning down her cheeks, but her smile remained. Her phone buzzed, and she reached into her pocket. Where r u? call me. She returned it to her pocket.

“Come on, let’s get some food in you.”

Maryl took a breath, refreshed her eyes, and pushed her way through the door and into hallway.


When eight thirty came around, so did Maryl along with the house that had found itself within a temporary eye of the storm. This was the point of the rush where everybody was seated with food or people to distract them from the wait-staff, and with this calm, Chris told Maryl to clock out.

“Are you sure?” she asked, “We’ve still--”

“I’m sure.” He said. “Go home.”

“But Eddie opened, and there’s—”

“No, you go.”

“Im fine,” she said, seeing her own reflection in his glasses, “Really.”

“I told Eddie that he’s staying on tonight.” A paternal concern emanated.

“No, I needed Eddie to cover me tomorrow night. I can’t ask him to—“  

“I already asked him.” He said, “He can do both. He understands.”

She wanted to protest, but she caught sight of Anna just outside the front door and felt a snowfall in her chest, so she nodded, and began towards the time clock, careful not to slip on the ice that started to cover the floor. The snow fell slow, drifting down through the air and into the bowls of heated stew on the tables, soon covering the restaurant, and forcing her to trudge her way through the aisles. She left her tips—because they were tipped collectively and therefore divided up at the end of each shift—and made her way out into a blizzard without a parka but with a friend besides her, and by the time she had reached her car, the ice had crept into her beating—slowing it as it built around her heart, and cracked with each pulse. Anna opened the driver side door, and helped Maryl in.


© Copyright 2018 R. A. Montes. All rights reserved.

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