1. Breakfast in Diners
Climbing out of my cab with Howard in tow we headed into the diner my mom told me to meet her at while hearing the Jingle jingle as we stepped in.
“Excuse me, but you can’t have a dog in here. There is a sign outside that says no dogs. He either has to wait outside or you both have to leave.” States a bored voice in front of me.
“Um... I don’t think it’s actually possible for us to be separate from each other... he-he has to stay with me no matter what...” I mumble to who I assume is a waitress here at the diner.
“Can you speak up, it’s hard to hear what you’re saying?”
“He legally has to be with me at all times.”
“It’s... it’s because he’s my seeing eye dog... I’m uh I’m blind” I started hearing her slightly intake a breath. Taking off the sunglasses I was wearing I then shook my hand in my face to further show that I couldn’t see things, and then put them back on.
“Oh um... I... I didn’t know I’m so sorry for this um—” She started to babble, but I only cut her off.
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. It happens a lot.” I mumble to try and ease her embarrassment. As she keeps trying to apologize to me I start growing impatient standing at the entrance of the diner.
“I really am so sorry about that. I think we can make an exception for you and the dog. How many seats do you need?”
“A table for two is fine.”
“Okay then just follow me to your seat—oh uh I mean uh...”
Here we go again with the apology’s. I think to myself, but before she can start up again I beat her to it. “It’s fine. I can just put my hand on your shoulder.”
“Okay that’s fine.”
With that I raise my left hand and wait for her to put it on her shoulder. Walking behind her to my seat I can tell she’s still worried about the event that just unfolded with how tense she is. Once we reach the table she tells me she’ll help me with the chair.
“My name is Jenny and I’ll be your waiter this morning. Here’s your menu...” She starts off strong and slowly gets quiet and places the menu onto the table with a fwable sound.
“Can I just get water for now?” I asked hoping my mom would get here sooner so I wouldn’t have to keep up this situation that just seemed like a ‘I’m sorry’ merry-go-round with Jenny. As I sense Jennys presents leaving besides me I start petting Howard’s head that was resting on my right leg. Howard has been with me since I’ve started middle school.
Growing up I would just use my hands to feel around everywhere in my house, but when I entered elementary school I started using one of those sticks to help me get around. It worked out fine for the most part I guess but I would always bump into things or end up accidentally tripping people around me, so when I was about to begin middle school I pleaded to my dad to get me a seeing eye dog. After a week he caved and got me Howard. When Howard arrived I was so ecstatic. That night my dad told me that he was a golden retriever and he described Howard to me while my hands traveled on his face. I was suddenly snapped out of my thoughts when I heard Jenny start talking again. “Here’s your water... What’s his name and yours? If you don’t mind me asking that is.”
“I don’t mind at all. His name is Howard and mine is Conner.” I said while trying to feel around for my cup only for Jenny to help me. “Thanks.”
“I checked and we don’t have any braille menus, but I can help you with the menu by reading it aloud.” Jenny said as I heard the chair in front of me being pulled out.
“Shouldn’t you be working?”
“I think my manager wouldn’t mind if I help you.” With that she began reading the menu to me only stopping when I asked her to describe what the dish was like. By the end of it I chose a medium bowl of grits with butter, sausage, and cheese. Jenny called it the House favorite and left to put my order in. Jenny came back later with my meal and a piece of bacon for Howard that he devoured in a second. On the house according to her. After that I was left alone with Howard to finish my grits and keep waiting for my mom.
“Hey Conner it’s been 20 minutes since you finished up, what are you still waiting for?” Came Jennys worried voice came.
“I’m uh waiting for my mom.” My voice coming out tight. Feeling my eyes start to water I push back the feeling of wanting to cry and focus on my phone vibrating in my pocket. Taking it out and answering it I hear my mothers voice fill the speaker along with the rumble of her car. “Hey Conner I’m so sorry that I’m late I got caught up at the hospital with a patient that was having some problems and needed an emergency surgery after pulling some stitches on accident.”
“It’s fine. I’ve already eaten. How far away are you?”
“I’m pulling up right now.” With that the call ended with a click and a minute later I heard the bells on the door jingle and my moms voice filled the air calling out my name. “There you are Conner. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long. Excuse me uh Jenny is it? I’d like to order a pecan waffle and a black coffee please, thank you. So, um Conner how are you and your dad doing?”
“I’m doing fine and Dad is doing just great especially now with June and him on their adventure.” I say in a woeful voice thinking about my dad.
My Dad is a lawyer at this firm called John & John while my Mom is a heart surgeon at HB Memorial. My parents divorced whenever I was 7 because my father couldn’t deal with her always at the hospital. She missed birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays because the hospital always came first. My dad ended up getting custody of me because of her long hours that made her be hardly at home. Dad and I stayed in our house in Iowa while Mom moved around the country until she stopped and ended up at a small town in Georgia five years ago. I didn’t really understand because she was always jumping from city to city because she said it was hard to find the right hospital with the right people. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t hate my mom for leaving us. She always managed to come visit me for my birthdays at least. I’ve just been let down many times by her missing events in my life that it hurts. I’m hoping moving here will help us strengthen our relationship.
“That’s good. Where are John and June now?” My mom said dragging me out of my memories. God I hope I didn’t make any weird faces. I think to myself as I begin telling her how my Dad and June are currently in France. They planned to take a year off of work to see the world starting in Europe after getting married. One detail they didn’t think much of was me. I still had my final year of high school to complete. This led to Howard and I going to Georgia to live with my mom for a year.
Once we catch up on our ‘current events happening in my life’ my Mom finishes her breakfast and pays the tab. As we climb into her SUV she starts off with the important things we needed to get out of the way before arriving at the house. “Anyways Conner I got your things that your dad sent through the mail and can I say those were a lot of boxes I unpacked into your room. I put your clothes away into the closet and dresser, I also set up your desk, I got you a bookshelf for your billions of books, I just threw all your plushies onto the bed, and I even set up a corner in your room for Howard that has a bed and some toys for him for when he’s not on the job. I do have some rules I would like you to follow: Pick up after yourself and uh don’t stay up too late?” She finished off her list sounding more like a question than a statement as the car stops.
As we walked into the house I heard my mom talking about writing down notes to herself when I suddenly heard a smack. “Mom what was that?”
“Oh sorry if I startled you I just remembered—and I don’t even know how I forgot to mention this to you—I guess with the emergency at work and the catching up I forgot to mention that I have a uh friend staying with us here in the house, but you don’t have to worry about her. Veronica is a very nice lady and we work together and she needed—”
“Hey Mom it’s fine I don’t mind just as long as she doesn’t steal my toast chee peanut butter crackers were good. Now can you help me to my room? I’ve had a long 4 hour flight and I wanna take a power nap before I start to familiarize myself with the house.” I say with a yawn stopping her muttering. With Howard and I on her trail up the stairs until I smack into her small frame and stumble back.
“Oof— slow down there Cone. I put you in the very first room so you didn’t have to go very far. Next door is my room, across the hall from your room is the bathroom that you will be using and it already has your stuff in there, and next to that is the guest room where... uh Veronica is staying in. Don’t worry about sharing the bathroom with anyone because Veronica has a bathroom connected to her room and so do I, but your room doesn’t.” She tells me, leading me along to each position of each room making me frown. Why am I the one without an en-suite bathroom. I’m about to ask her why when she pulls me into what I’m assuming is my new room sitting me down onto the bed.
“I tried to keep the layout similar to the one back in Iowa from the pictures your Dad sent me. I’ll leave you to take your nap while I go wash up and take my own nap and then we can see what you want to do later.” With that she kissed my forehead and left the room closing the door behind her leaving Howard and I to get settled. Taking off my shoes and jacket I dump them onto the floor then begin to feel around for my desk to set my sunglasses, phone, and wallet on. Feeling around I feel a blanket and wrap myself in it before laying down in the small space where my plushies aren’t mounted and call Howard to lay with me. This is going to be a long school year. I think to myself as I drift off.