I was working the afternoon shift, I had one class in the morning and that was about it for the day. I worked at a small Italian restaurant called the Meet & Eat, it was really popular especially at night. During the day we got very few customers.
I worked more of the morning shift and few night shifts I didn't mind really. I was the only waitress around, the chief was in the kitchen he never spoke to anyone other than the manager. I had a coworker who was supposed to be in today but didn't show.
I wasn't complaining there wasn't anyone stopping by. The place was clean there was nothing for me to do other than play around with my phone.
I stood at the counter browsing the Internet, reading any random story I came across. The bell that announced customers rang altering me of their presence. I sighed, then tried to perk up, I didn't want to be one of those waitresses that clearly hated their jobs and cared very little about the customers and served them without a smile.
I slipped my phone into my black apron and grabbed the afternoon menu. My apron covered up my entire uniform skirt that was also black. It was so short but those were the requirements here along with very high heels for me to wear. The first days were disaster…
My smile vanished when I saw who my customers were… Cherry Montgomery and Shane Norman. They were here together, Cherry had her arm looped around his arm. I was kind of impressed with Cherry, she looked great. Her red vibrant hair was full of tiny curls and she had freckles that spread across her nose. She had a beautiful smile, but back in high school people just found her weird. She was captain of the bleachers and had a bad sense of fashion, she'd improved significantly.
Shane looked as obnoxious as ever… those were all the kind words I had for him.
“Hi Cherry! Wow you look great!” I said with a genuine smile. She giggled brightly hanging on to Shane's muscles. Those were new.
“Yes, I know.” She giggled on. Well that was odd. Shane smirked at her remark.
“You can just pick any table you want.” I forced a smile and placed the menus on the nearest table. They could pick them up if they wanted.
Cherry kept on giggling, but Shane wasn't saying anything to her. I stood at the counter waiting for them to decide what to eat.
My thoughts traveled back to my mother and Nicholas, the guy that may or may not be her new boyfriend. I cringed at the idea of my mom dating a younger man. What if they got married? Would I have to call him Dad? Oh please no…
I was going to visit her today, she co-owned a restaurant with a friend of hers, she'd be home by the time I got off work. Hopefully, Nick wouldn't be home then.
“Fancy meeting you here, Avalon.” Shane came up the counter and said.
“I might even say you were stalking me Shane.” I said.
“Twice in one week I feel it's no coincidence. It's probably time for us, two old friends to catch up, don't you think?” I can't believe he was saying that.
“You and I aren't friends, Shane.” I scrawled. I shouldn't be arguing with the customers.
“Of course not. Why would I want to be friends with you Fluke?” He spat.
“Grow up Shane.” I snapped.
“Something wrong babe?” Cherry walked up to the counter and looped her arm with Shane's. She looked up at him waiting for answers.
“No nothing I was just ordering for you.” He smiled brightly.
Cherry’s face lit up and she began giggling again, how irritating that was getting.
“I told you this place was amazing…” Cherry starting talking and her words seemed to have no end. I tuned her out at some point, I didn't remember her being this annoying.
I sighed, Fluke was the name Shane used to call me back in middle school and high school. It was annoying and when I was younger it hurt a little that's when the girls and I started teasing him. Something I wasn't proud of, but it happened and I can't change it.
My shift ended and I was glad to leave. I changed at work and headed to Mom's house. I was hoping not to find Nicholas there and that maybe he was just her friend. My hopes were killed when the front door opened.
“Avalon…” Nicholas addressed with an unreadable expression. He opened the door and I stepped in.
“Where's my mother?” Scratch that why are you here?
His deep blue eyes were scrutinizing me, breaking through my skin and staring at my insides. I swear I felt naked. It was getting really uncomfortable in front of this guy and all he did was just stare at me.
“Val, darling!” Mom said and I sighed. She had her favourite red apron on, she was coming from the kitchen with a hand towel in her hands.
“I thought I heard your voice… I just didn't… never mind.” She smiled wearily.
“I said I'd come visit, didn't I?” I said, feeling kind of awkward in the middle of these two. Unspoken words hung desperately in the air.
Are you lonely?
Is this my fault.
Are you dating?
Have you forgotten Dad?
Minutes later my mom and I were cooking in the kitchen. I wasn't a great cook like her, she taught me how to cook back in high school, but I was never as good as she wanted me to be. I wasn't bad too!
We were silent for a while, I desperately wanted to ask her about Nick, and why he was here again. Right now he was in the living room watching tv. I rolled my eyes at the thought, he probably doesn't have a job and lays around all day, depending on Mom's income from the restaurant.
Couldn't you do better mom? I thought. He was good looking, I'll give her credit for that.
“I know what you're thinking Avalon.” Mom said.
Breaking the silence, but not looking away from her macaroni and cheese. Sounds simple, but the way she makes it is kind of unique. She cutts poloney in small box shapes and green and red pepper to add color and a tomato gravy to add on top.
“What?” I asked.
“You're wondering about Nicholas.”
“Well of course! Are you dating him?!” I blurted out.
She was taken aback. “Well honey…”
“Mom just be honest, tell me the truth I guess it's okay I get that you were lonely.”
She managed a tiny smile. “So it doesn't bother you at all?”
“So you are dating?!” I screamed, still shocked even after suspecting it. Deep down I was praying it wasn't true.
“Oh Avalon.” She blushed and turned away. Oh my gosh my mom is sleeping with a younger man.
“Of course it does but-” I took a deep breath and exhaled. “I'll get over it.” I wanted to ask about dad, but it was pointless he wasn't here and she has the right to want to move on.
“I'm glad because Nick is staying here with me.” Mom said with a smile. I grimaced, thinking about all the dirty things they could be doing here.
Seconds later there was a ruckus coming from the living room and a couple of things hit the floor- not glass or furniture, but it sounded like luggage.
“Guess who's here!” An all too familiar voice yelled.
My face brightened up and I ran to the living room to hug my grandmother. I hadn't seen her in forever. After my grandfather died, she sold her house and spent her time traveling the world, she spent minimal time in SilverLake.
“What a surprise Grandma!” I said, giving her a hug. She'd changed, she looked very fit and healthier, and she actually wore makeup.
“A good surprise I hope.” She laughed, squeezing me tightly. “And who is this handsome young man.” She said after letting me go. Nicholas stood silently watching us.
“Mother,” Mom said, then suddenly silence fell over us. My mom didn't really get along with her mother.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh Sarai aren't you glad to see me?” Grandma said, a frown washing over her face.
“I just wasn't expecting you is all. Dinner is on the table. Please help grandma get settled then join us at the table.” Mom gave her orders and I did as instructed.
Minutes later we were all seated at the dining table, listening to Grandma’s latest adventure story.
“Yes, South Africa was absolutely beautiful! And the food there is absolutely exquisite, Val, I must take you the next time I visit Africa.” Grandma laughed.
“I'm impressed,” I said, digging into my meal. I'd missed mom's cooking, I'd survived on take outs and frozen dinners.
“Of course the food there can't compare to your mother's cooking… anyways, now will someone tell me who this handsome young man is… Val?” Grandma eyed me mischievously and winked. I gagged. Hell no.
Nicholas sat next to my mother opposite me, while my grandmother sat to my right facing my mom. He'd been quiet the entire time.
“No, Grandma… Nicholas is mom's boyfriend.” It came out bitter and resentful.
Nicholas dropped his spoon and attempted to smile at my grandma. Grandma who's jaw had dropped slightly. There was another brief moment of silence between us.
“Oh well…” Grandma trailed, she tried to pick up her food with her fork but she only managed to fumble with it.
Silence fell on us and I felt guilty, this wasn't the way to announce their relationship. I glanced at mom who looked furious, my face turned red there was no doubt about it. I dared not look at Nicholas, who was probably just as furious at me.
The food went cold in our plates...and in the pits our bellies. The shock should subside soon or so I hoped when I said my nervy goodbyes. I prayed there wouldn't be a bitter confrontation between my mom and grandma I almost didn't want to leave in fear of it happening. Why am I so stupid?
Even though I was driving home and not walking I had a strange feeling crawl up my spine. I was getting scared and anxious for no reason, I could feel my temperature rising and it really scared me and I suddenly lost control of the wheel for a moment there.
I gasped as the car swerved to the right lane, my heart thumping against my chest. Thank goodness there wasn't another car on the other lane. I needed to get home, I had a strange feeling as if I was anticipating something.
I was thankful when I parked outside my apartment building. I ran inside and punched the elevator buttons. I ran to my door, I was sure I looked like a madman, being chased by invisible monsters.
I locked the door behind me and slid down the wooden door. I felt so stupid, yet the fear hadn't faded. There was something watching me in the shadows… I could feel it.