This is a flash fiction, speculative/mild horror I wrote earlier this year for a Blog Challenge. ~ Natalia
I looked up from my appointment book, smiled and nodded. She was birdlike, thin and frail looking — maybe in her late 30’s but then, I am a poor judge of age.
“Thanks,” I said as she topped off my mug, “I hope it is okay that I am lingering a bit, my next appointment is a little while from now — just trying to catch up on the paperwork. The breakfast was great, by the way!”
“Its fine, the trucker rush is over. Stay as long as you want. And I’ll tell the cook you liked the breakfast, it’ll make his day.” She hesitated a moment, then added, “I’m Kathy, I think I waited on you last week, too.”
“You’ve got a good memory!” I said and smiled, even though I know I am probably the only single woman customer that has been in this diner aside from one or two woman truckers. This part of the country being what it is — it made me wonder about the appointments I had been assigned.
“It isn’t because of what you think…” she said, as though reading my mind.
“No?” I asked, genuinely curious now, I put down my pen and took a sip from the mug — it was freshly brewed and strong, exactly how I like it.
“I remember you,” her voice got lower, and almost a whisper, “because of the tip you left me.”
I had a moment of panic, hoping I had left enough, straining to remember the previous week, but my weeks all seemed to blur together these days. Because I didn’t immediately say anything, she continued.
“My little girl, she’d been wanting these shoes, I guess they’re all the rage at her school. I can’t afford to get her many of the things she wants, but the tip you left — well, it was enough to add to what I’d saved, so I got her the shoes. She was so happy when I brought them home to her. She hardly ever takes them off.” As she spoke of her little girl, it seemed the weight of world was lifted from her shoulders in that moment, and she stood tall and proud.
“What’s her name?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.
“Erin. She’s in third grade. She’s smart, too.” Kathy beamed.
“Erin.” I repeated and nodded and smiled with her mother, looking at her name tag — Kathy G. Erin, I thought to myself, glancing down at my appointment book. Erin Grady –my next appointment. I closed the…