This is a short I wrote up around the holidays to keep myself in thought about the holiday spirit, and is also tied to a larger project I'm working on with an artist of mine. Read and enjoy, and if you like, drop me a comment.
The slender, ponytailed young waitress brisked through the busy diner, balancing a tray piled with her table’s order. Soon after reaching the customers she said, “Here you go, meals fit for royalty.” as she placed it in front of them. One of her customers, a woman with boyish brown hair and sun kissed skin, asked, “And what kind of royalty orders Bacon Cheeseburgers, Fries and Chocolate Shakes?”
“Why, the kind that knows how to live it up, of course!” A laugh was shared, and a young girl wearing fiery pigtails glanced at the waitress with her emerald eyes and said, “Thank you for the meal.” to her.
“And thank you for coming. Enjoy!”Just as swiftly, the waitress rushed towards the kitchen to continue her shift. The moment she left, the woman slapped her hands together and proclaimed “Alright, let’s dig in!” With a giggle, the girl pulled up the sleeves of her pink turtleneck. Grabbing the burger with a dual grip, she said, “Hope this doesn’t get too messy”
“But the mess is half the fun, Ms. Jones, especially with this kind of food.”
“I guess. I just don’t wanna do things the wrong way, you know, Chisa?” With a gulp, Chisa pointed a fry at her and told her, “If you can’t let yourself do something wrong, you’ll never let yourself do anything.” The girl nodded as she swallowed her bite. Taking a sip of her shake, she took a small, blank envelope from her jean’s pocket, Chisa’s hazel eyes immediately locking onto it. “I’m guessing that has something to do with what you wanna do right?”
“Yeah, it does.” Tapping it on the table, she let out a sigh and fixed her gaze at Chisa’s half-eaten burger, commenting, “Has anyone ever told you ‘you eat like a jackrabbit’?”
“Hmm, don’t remember hearing I eat like one. Also don’t get any funny ideas.”
“Too late.” She said with a smile, munching a French Fry. Chisa rubbed her temple, grunting in irritation before saying, “Anyways, you already heard what I had to say; it’s on you to decide where it goes.” The girl’s eyes contemplated the bulge of the envelope, recalling when she first got it that morning in the park.
She held the envelope in her red gloved hand, the winter air rending her breaths like smoker’s puffs. In the rubber caress of the swings, she asked, “So, what is this exactly, Chisa?” Taking her hands out of her plaid jacket’s pocket, Chisa scratched her head and answered, “Not really positive. Lenny just gave it to me, said his spiel and told me to hand it over to you. I remember hearing something about charity.”
“Uncle Lenny must want me to give this away, then.” The girl fell silent, hopping off and sauntering towards the jungle gym. Quickly following, Chisa asked “Is it safe to assume you wanna keep it?”
“Kind of. It’s more about who I should give it to.” She pocketed the envelope and climbed up the ladder, making her way to the suspension bridge as she continued, “I’m assuming Uncle Lenny wants me to give this to a stranger, but I’m not sure who’d deserve to get it.” Chisa, gazing beside her into the morning mist, stated, “Firstly, the fact I still fit on this thing makes me feel incredibly small. Secondly, the way I see it, if kindness had to be earned, this world would have nothing but Grinches and Scrooges, the exact people who need that kindness most.”
“The ones who need it most, are people like them?”
“Yes. Hard to swallow, I know, so lemme put it this way.” Chisa looked over at her and asked, “Remember when you were super sick with the flu?”
“I do. You and Ai took care of me each and every day I was under the weather. Just knowing you cared that much for me gave me so many wonderful feelings.”
“Now, if kindness could do that for you, imagine what it could do for someone working their fingers to the bone, day in and day out, just to get by.” Chisa put her hand on the girl’s shoulder as she said, “Listen, Lenny, Ai and I all agree you’re a good egg and know you’re capable of making the best decision. You have the power to bring light into someone’s life, please don’t ever forget that.”
“I won’t.” The girl gazed up at her and flashed a gentle smile as she said, “Thank you, Chisa.”
“Don’t mention it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna revisit my inner child on the swings. Wanna join?”
“In a little while.” Her attention returned to the envelope in her pocket, considering her next move.
Chisa cleaned off her plate, unleashing a long, voluminous belch. “Oh, c’mon, Chisa, that was very-” The girl was cut off by her own series of brief burps. “Very what, Miss Jones?” Looking down at her empty plate, the girl mumbled, “Nothing.”
“Alrighty. So you ready to go?”
“Yeah, just lemme do one last thing…” Jessica whipped out her pen from her jean’s pocket, scribbling on the front of the envelope before flipping it over. Turning to Chisa, she got a silent nod of approval, and they were off. “I hope you like Para Para, Miss Jones.”
“Yay, Para Para!” No sooner after they left did their server, now draped in a black fur coat, as well as a cream colored bag slung over her shoulder, come to snap up her tip. Waving to the cooks in the kitchen, she told them, “Alright, heading off, guys!”
“Have fun and take it easy, Jenni.” As she headed towards her cobalt Toyota Camry, she caught a glimpse of the message on the front of the envelope before stashing it, noticing it read, “Thank you!!” Starting her car up, she thought, “Now that’s just cute. Wonder what’s inside?”
A sped up Amen Beat came from her bag, and she snatched up her clamshell cell. Cutting the ignition, she slipped her bag on as she flipped her phone open and pressed it to her ear, asking, “Hey, honey, how are you tonight?” Emerging from her car, she hip bumped the door closed.
“What? Can’t believe you’re working late again.”
She fumbled with her keychain to dig up what would open the front gate door.
“You can’t be the only person willing to work those kinds of hours, can you?”
Her black leather slip-ons echoed against the concrete walkway as she made her way towards her apartment.
“I know, I know, you want me to have extra spending cash, but sometimes I wanna come home from work and talk shop with you in person instead of on our cells.”
She swung the front door open, slipping out of her footwear as she stepped on the plush white carpet inside.
“Alright, I’ll let you get back to your work. See you soon.” Setting them down in a squared off area of neatly placed shoes, Jenni began slipping out of her coat and purse as she closed her cell. She hung them on the packed coat tree behind her, and the envelope falling from her bag caught her eye. Scooping it out of the air, she stroked her chin and, with a chuckle, said, “You know, this might make a dent in my mood.” Her feet cried agony as she eased her way towards the dining room table, her thumb lifting the envelope flap. Inside, she saw the flap had “Please read this 1st” scrawled on it, and removed the letter it held. Sinking into her seat, she softly recited the message to herself.
No matter how bad things get, please don’t forget about the people bringing light into your life. They’d give the world to see you see you smile, like you’d do for them. And much like you, they often do it and get nothing in return, not that they’d ever ask for much. We all have at least some appreciation of these kinda people, but unless they know this somehow, they’ll never get what they mean to our lives. I ask that you keep this in mind as you receive this token of my gratitude for what you do.
She peeked in the envelope, then up at the slow cooker in the middle of the table. Reaching over and flipping the lid open, she saw a fresh batch of Beef Stew awaiting her arrival. With startled breaths, she thought to herself, “Is this the recipe I taught him when we first met? Can’t believe he actually remembered…” She made her way to the cupboard to grab a ladle, bowl and spoon, speed dialing her beloved and immediately getting his machine. Gathering her implements, she left this on it as she served herself:
Hey, it’s me, Jenni. Just wanted to tell you something you haven’t heard much from me lately: Thank you. For everything. I know you’ve been working yourself silly these past few weeks, and that I’ve been riding you pretty hard for it. Though I do wish you were home more often, I realize you’re working those crazy hours for our sake. For my sake. I don’t say it much, but I do appreciate all you do for me, especially when you whip up my favorite dish out of the blue, like you did tonight. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know, and I’ll do something special for you, just so you can see how serious I am. Hope to see you when you get off of the workhorse.
Closing her cell, she sat at the table and ladled herself a piping hot serving of stew. Savoring each tender morsel of meat and the richness of the Roux, she thought to herself, “Like a rave in my mouth. Definitely gonna give it to him something fierce.”