October 24th
Night Shift
by sarah grace welbourn

There is absolutely no one in the restaurant tonight. I have been here for three hours watching the parking lot like a sad sack waiting for someone to come. I’ll clean the fridge underneath the bar. I bet no one ever cleans that. Was that something? A noise?! I run back to the window. It is! A car in the parking lot. It’s embarrassing how happy I feel. Someone coming to eat here. Looks like two men...maybe over forty years old?--hard to tell. Over forty is good. The longer someone has been alive the more chances they have had to become rich. I hope they spend $100, so I could make a $20 tip. If I at least make $20 off this terrible shift, I could buy coffee all week or a couple magazines for my flight. I am going to Mexico City in four days. My boyfriend is one of those flight alert people who gets a notification every time…

“Hello, two for dinner.” The men from the parking lot are here! I am so glad they came in because there was a slight chance they were just parking in our lot and going to the pharmacy or the grocery store. That actually happens. It’s always so disappointing.

“Hi!! Take a seat anywhere you like, and I will bring some menus.” I try not to sound too desperate and happy to see them. I remind myself that I am a very relaxed, collected person.

“Is the restaurant always this dead?” The more handsome (I said it!) of the two men asks. I find this statement incredibly rude.

I laugh. It’s my fake laugh. “Of course not! They are doing some construction on the main street leading here, so I think that’s been a deterrent, unfortunately.”

“We aren’t in the city for that long, and honestly, we were hoping to eat somewhere with more people.” says the less handsome man (I said it!)

“Well, I’m here!” I fired back. I hope that didn’t sound like too much of a weird flirtatious thing to say. Sometimes I feel like I unintentionally show more interest than I actually have in people.

He laughs amicably. “That’s true. But I think we will look for some other place. Do you have any suggestions?”

To be honest, I think this question is rude and insane. He gets my hopes up, tells me my restaurant is lame, and asks me for a better idea. GIVE ME A BREAK!

“There’s a nice farm-to-table restaurant nearby called Roberts. Everything they serve is local and really delicious.” I respond. Sigh. I literally hate myself.

They leave. I taste some opened red wine to see if it has gone bad. It has. I didn’t learn how to tell if wine has gone bad until I was in college. My boyfriend actually thinks I am insane because I will drink bad wine just to prove that...

“Are you open?”
Woah. Who is this? Didn’t even hear the car in the parking lot this time. Another chance to make money! Can I be honest? This woman is more attractive than both the men who were just here. I am not the type of woman who is afraid to say when another woman is attractive.

“Yes!” I immediately respond. “I know, it’s hard to believe. We are open, and we are actually a very good restaurant.” Oh my gosh. Why did I say it like that? I am an overeager moron.

“If I were to stay for just a drink, would you be disappointed?”

Yes. One hundred percent, yes. “No. Not at all!.” I lied.

“And if the drink I chose was only a sparkling water, would you be disappointed?”

This catches me off guard, and I laugh. This woman is very upfront about how much she is disappointing me.

“Fine with me. I have sparkling water. Large bottle or small? I’ll bring it to the table.”

“And if I told you that the men who came in earlier were my friends, how would you react to that?”

Umm. “I’d say ‘small world’?”

“And what if I told you that one of them is at the front door changing your sign from OPEN to CLOSED?”

“And what if I told you that the other is standing near the back door in case you try to run?”

“And what if I told you there is a reason your co-worker hasn’t come from the kitchen to check on you?”

This might be really hard to believe, but the last thing I thought about that night was my boyfriend without me in Mexico City. Realistically, I’m sure he won’t take that trip. That would be very unfeeling of him. But for some reason, when I took my last breath that night, I imagined Ben alone in Mexico City. Sitting on the beach. Making fun of the other tourists by himself. And I was so sad. Even more than I was scared. He won’t believe it, but I want him to know I wasn’t scared.

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