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Twenty-Five Minute Wait

Story by Megan Giddings (Read author interview) December 17, 2013

art by Stephanie Bova

1. Bunny tells Janet about her latest idea for a story. It’s about a glamorous woman who’s decided she is finished with her current lover. To symbolize she is over him, the woman plans on burning the speedboat he gave her.

2. The specials today are southwestern chili, spring-green salad with beef, a six-dollar lunch of salmon pinwheels.

3. Janet isn’t paying attention to Bunny. Her brain is wrapped in a serotonin-high hug from last night. Bunny is words around Janet’s ears, a face across the table, chattering teeth saying, “We should order wine.”

4. The waitress having a bad day feels as if each misheard order, each spilled glass of water, each dropped plate is inevitable. Her angel hair pasta DNA strands are filled with genes to give her long curly hair, slightly too big feet for her frame, and a tendency toward clumsiness.

5. There’s enough people present to give the air its own presence: arms brushing against brand-new arms over and over.

6. This is what Bunny does when she and Janet lunch together. She brings a list of short story ideas hoping Janet will say, “Yes, I should definitely write that.” If she does not do this, Bunny is afraid she will blurt out how she really feels.

7. The silverware design is called Michelangelo. The handles have elaborate raised vines. The heads below the tines have small diamonds cut out. The waitress having a bad day has been slowly stealing utensils since she fell in love with their design on her first day.

8. The only story Bunny ever presented Janet considered writing was about an old woman who lived in a cottage by the sea with her three beloved Newfoundland dogs. The old woman finds a winning lottery ticket half-buried in sand, but dies that night. The dogs eventually eat the old woman.

9. Last night, Janet stood in the house she was told was most definitely haunted, unsure if her heartbeats were real, substantial rhythms, not phantom beats allowing her to pretend that she was still corporeal, fooling her into thinking she was still able to experience new sensations. While exploring, she was consistently startled by the tread of her boots on the creaky floor.

10. Bunny’s current idea: “It should be about the type of woman who likes to look out windows and reminisce about her first yacht’s name as if she were thinking about a lover or a beloved pet horse.”

11. The men at the counter are talking about Unsolved Mysteries and Janet wishes she was dining with them. The one most enthusiastic about ghosts has long hair that makes him look like an adventurer.

12. Bunny has a voice like a cork being popped, champagne fizz in a glass.

13. In an e-mail to her best friend, the waitress having a bad day will write: “Imagine knowing a part of you on a microscopic level ensures that you will trip walking up stairs, you will spill spaghetti sauce down your blouse, you will fall into bushes while wearing high heels, you will meet the most beautiful woman you could ever imagine and you will have chocolate sauce smeared across your left cheek. That is my life.”

14. Every table gets a glass of water nine-tenths full with a lemon perched on the rim.

15. “A reenactment showed a man in a three-piece suit walking upstairs muttering, ‘When will she arrive,’ over and over again. In post-production, they gave him this spectacular glow. It reminded me of that time I thought I saw my grandfather walking my dog, a week after he died.”

16. Bunny notices a fly. She does not like how casual it is, as if the restaurant was actually a secret place only catering to the six-legged. She would kill it, but Janet is the type of person who likes to save bugs.

17. Janet’s voice is filled with high notes. The long-haired man smiles when he overhears her voice. Each sentence, an aria.

18. If the restaurant had a signature perfume scent it would be: top-notes of ground coffee, lemon spritz, roasting meats; mid-notes of bacon, hot fudge, garlic; and base-notes of basil, gorgonzola, and people.

19. The waitress having a bad day smokes a cigarette outside and mentally composes e-mails to send later.

20. The house Janet broke into last night was at least one-hundred-years old. She doesn’t think that houses have “an energy” or anything quite like that. But she does like to enter the spaces and try to think who caused that dent, who made that scrape, who painted the walls that color. She says it stimulates her creativity.

21. Bunny takes an empty coffee cup from the not-yet cleared table next to them and captures a fly to avoid looking at Janet’s thick black hair, the sheen of her light brown skin. Love slaps up in her throat. She opens her mouth to finally say it, but Janet says, “Isn’t he handsome?”

22. Janet orders the pinwheels while thinking about death and history. Bunny orders the spring-green salad, pomegranate dressing on the side, thinking if she eats enough vegetables, she’ll live to be at least ninety. The waitress having a bad day looks at Bunny’s freckled cleavage and wonders if she should leave her phone number on the bill and scrawl next to the salad order: “You are beautiful.”

23. The women waiting for seats at the bar finish their drinks. One mutters, “I swear to God, those people and those people too came in after us.”

24. Janet will approach the man before he leaves. Bunny will go home and search Craigslist’s w4w listings. The waitress will be fired next week when she’s caught, spoon in purse.

25. There are so many people talking in unison, the voices rise to the ceiling, they push at the windows, they rattle the glasses on the tables.

About the Author

Megan Giddings will be attending Indiana University’s MFA in the fall. She has most recently been published in the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review and Knee-Jerk.

About the Artist

Stephanie Bova is an English language arts tutor and local artist from Atlanta, GA. Though her academic passion is literature, having recently graduated with an MA in English from Miami University of Ohio, her heart belongs to the visual arts. Doodling since infancy and seriously studying painting since high school, Stephanie continues to develop her craft and experiment with new ways to interpret the world via abstract expressionism.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Two

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