“I think we should break up.”
I’m sitting Indian style on the recliner in my living room, my boyfriend of three years on the couch directly across from me. He blinks at me, and the look in the eye tells me he doesn’t understand what I’m saying. With a sigh, I open my mouth to repeat my words, but he holds a hand up to stop me. For a moment, he doesn’t say anything, and I start twiddling my fingers.
Does he think I’m joking or something?
“You want to... break up?” he asks slowly,
I shrug my shoulders. Honestly, I’ve never broken up with someone before. It’s always been the other way around in high school. But back then, it didn’t surprise me every time someone dumped me. I was quiet, shy, kind of boring. It wasn’t until the summer after I graduated high school – three years ago – that I changed as a person. I met new people, got out of my shell, got a job working the third shift at a diner where I had to be outspoken. I still like to thank that job for making me a confident, blunt, twenty-one-year-old.
Well, I still have my moments when I don’t know what to say sometimes, but it’s hardly ever like that.
Blake continues to stare at me, waiting for to say something, anything. But my lips can’t form any more words. What more is there to say? I’m sorry? Are you supposed to apologize to someone for breaking up with them even if you aren’t sorry? Why apologize if you don’t mean it? My mother always told me that there’s no point in saying sorry if you aren’t being serious about it. Never say anything you don’t mean.
I sigh, closing my eyes. They stay closed as I talk. “Because, honestly,” I start, not knowing how to say this. “We just haven’t clicked. That spark we once had has disappeared. You just don’t make me happy anymore, there’s no passion when we kiss or have sex. I mean, I still love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
There’s a ghost of a smile on Blake’s lips. What is he smiling about? Shouldn’t he be upset or something? “Thank you, Callie,” he breathes, and I narrow my eyes at him. Thank you?
“Being the one to end things. I’ve been trying to find a way to break up with you, too, so I’m glad there’s a mutual understanding.”
“So you’re not upset?”
I breathe in a sigh of relief.
I met Blake at the diner I work at, and at first we did click. He was funny, cute, and charming. He was the first guy to ever catch my interest actually; the first guy I ever had sex with, and the first guy that I ever truly loved. It was like that the first couple of years we dated. It wasn’t until these past three months where I’ve suddenly lost any type of feelings and connection I once had for him. And thankfully, he feels the same way. Which makes this a lot easier.
We both stand, and I hold out my hand to shake his for the agreement. He just laughs and shakes his head before grabbing onto my hand and pulling me in for a hug. At first, I just stand there, confused on why he would hug me after a breakup. But eventually, I hug him back. It only lasts for a brief moment before he pulls away from me and takes a step back.
“Still friends though, right?” he asks me, and I nod with a small smile.
The sun sets over the horizon, casting colors of pink and purple in the sky. Its’s beautiful, really, and something I like to admire on nights that I’m not usually working. But tonight, as I get ready for my shift at the diner, I think back of all the unhappy moments I spent in this town. Something in the pit of my stomach tells me that I need to do something, anything. Take a risk. Whatever that risk may be, I’m not entirely too sure on it.
I walk through the front door of Jerry’s, the bell overhead ringing to let people know someone walked inside. They all look at me with smiles and wave, and I return the gesture as I walk into the back. Grabbing my apron and tying it around my waist, I head to the kitchen where Luis, the cook and night manager, is busy making an order.
“Hola, mami. How did it go this morning?”
He has a basket of fries next to him, and I snatch a fry and stick it in my mouth. “Surprisingly well. We were both on the same page.” I take another fry.
Luis hands me the basket. “Just take the entire thing. I need to make another one now that you put your hands in it.” He chuckles and turns so that he can put more fries in the fryer, and I just stand there eating some more. “And really? That’s good then, right?”
“Yeah. I guess. We’re still going to be friends, though.”
His dark brown eyes narrow at me, a wrinkle forming right in the middle of his forehead. “Friends? Chica, you’re not supposed to be friends with your ex.”
I shrug, popping another fry into my mouth before heading to the server area in the back where we take our breaks. Looking in the mirror, I make sure my blonde hair is still pulled neatly into a bun and adjust my glasses. They make me look really dorky, and I’m thinking I want to start maybe wearing contacts so that my green eyes can stand out better.
When I’m sure I look presentable enough, I head to the front and clock in. Within the first couple of minutes, I already have two tables. One being a family of four, the other a young couple who looks like they’re on a first date. I bring out their milkshakes and tell them their food will be up shortly. They don’t seem to mind me, but instead just stare adoringly at one another. They’re not going to last long, I think to myself, turning quickly on my heel to check on the family of four.
An hour later, the diner starts to get busy. Since there are only two of us tonight, with it being a Monday night, we normally take turns taking tables. But as we get a sudden rush – which never happens on a Monday – we have to split the diner in half. I’m just finishing taking three orders at once when my coworker, Isabelle, calls for me.
“Callie! I know it’s not your section but I have a party of nine just sit down and there’s a lone guy at the counter who I won’t be able to get to fast enough. Can you please take it?” she begs, her blue eyes pleading.
“Sure. Let me put these orders in first.”
“Thank you!” She hugs me quickly before rushing over to her party.
I walk to the back and hand Luis the orders. He nods at me and goes back to cooking with such ease. It amazes me how he can handle all of this without breaking a sweat and being overwhelmed. I guess with him being a cook at this diner for over twenty years, it comes easy to him. Me, personally, don’t think I could do it.
I head over to the counter to take care of the guest Isabelle can’t get to. He doesn’t notice me when I walk up to him, still looking down at his phone. The man is typing away, not once looking up at me. He does talk, however. “It’s about time someone has come to help me,” he grunts, and I roll my eyes.
“Yeah, well. We’re busy and there’s only two of us. We’re trying.”
There’s something about rude customers I just don’t like to tolerate. Three years when I first started this placing, those words would have never left my lips. I would have kept apologizing while not looking at the first. But Luis told me that sometimes guests can be grueling and I can’t let them get to me. That to make it in the service industry, you need to have a backbone. It took me a couple of months to fully understand, but it finally did bring me out of my shell.
The man finally looks up at me, a twinkle of amusement in his cobalt blue eyes. My breath hitches in my throat when his eyes catch mine, and I have to close my mouth to keep it from hanging open in shock. I wasn’t expecting this guy to be so gorgeous, with his messy black hair, pearly white teeth, and a smile to make any girl swoon. My eyes drift down to his arms, covered with a tight-fitting white shirt that displays his muscles when he flexes.
“I know I’m attractive, baby. But you don’t need to stare.”
My eyes snap back up to his, and now he has a cocky grin at his face. I purse my lips. “The fact that you think you’re attractive mind boggles me. No need to be so cocky. You’re nothing special to look at.”
His lips twitch a little, and I can tell he’s holding back a smile. “Then why were you staring?”
“I wasn’t,” I lie, but he doesn’t believe me. His eyes say it all. Sighing, I shake my head. “What can I get you to eat? Like I said, we’re busy.”
Good job, Callie. Change the subject and get his order so you can go back to taking care of your customers.
The guy opens his mouth to respond, but Luis presses the bell in the back. I tell him I’ll be right back so I can go pick up my hot food. Luis keeps putting food in the window, and I start picking them up and running them to all my other tables. I make sure all my tables have their food and grab all necessary refills before heading back to the counter.
“Do you know what you’d like to eat?” I ask him, pushing my glasses up after they slide down my nose a little.
He shakes his head. “I think I’ll pass on eating.” His gaze drifts to my nametag. “But it was a pleasure meeting you, Callie. Hopefully, I’ll see you soon.”
“Hopefully not,” I say dryly. This guy is so full of himself and seems like a douche bag. Definitely not someone I would want to see again. “Have a nice night.”
His lips twitch, but he doesn’t smile. “You too, Callie.” With that, he turns around and walks away. When he reaches the door, he turns back just a little so that he can wink at me before finally walking out of the diner.
The diner stays busy until three in the morning. Isabelle and I are busy cleaning all the tables and making sure all the dishes are washed. Luis is singing as he does his own kitchen cleanup, and when I watch the forty-year-old dance and wiggle his butt, I can’t help but laugh. For an older guy, he sure does know how to have fun. He rubs his beer gut as he continues to shake his butt.
“You’re having way too much fun, Luis.”
“Aye, mami. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I can’t have fun.”
I grab the salt and pepper so I can do my fill ups, silently laughing to myself. For the next two hours, we thankfully don’t have anybody else come in. It’s only an hour before our relief comes in, which then means I can go home and go to sleep.
As I’m sitting at one of the tables going through my credit card tips, my mind can’t help but go back to the guy from earlier. He was really attractive, but so arrogant, which makes me wonder why he’s on my mind in the first place. I didn’t know what it was, but there was something about him that had me drawn to him. And, even though I said I hoped I didn’t see him again, I kind of wish I did.
Isabelle plops herself beside me and takes her long black hair out of its bun. It cascades in waves down her back, reaching her midback, and I envy how long and beautiful her hair is. It looks good compared to her olive complexion. She grins at me as she puts her money in her purse. “Did you do okay?”
“Three hundred,” I say as I finish adding up my tips. “Everyone was being really generous today. One family left me fifty dollars on a thirty-dollar check.”
Luis takes his spot across from us and sets a tray of scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes on the table. I reach forward and take all the bacon, and stuff them in my mouth. I love bacon, and I don’t like sharing. Isabelle crinkles her nose, and Luis just laughs at me. I shrug, unfazed.
Once the clock hits six and Barbara, our relief comes through the front door. She smiles at us as she heads to the back, and I grab my things as I jump to my feet. “I’ll see y’all on Thursday.”
Isabelle and Luis say bye, and I rush out the door and over to my car. I’m so ready to go home, tired from the busy night. Thankfully, I’m off the next two nights, which means I can catch up on some much-needed sleep and reading. When I get in my car and start the engine, I head home.