Thursday, June 27, 2013

Prompt: Miss Mary’s Table

Shawna was glad to get the job at Honey’s Café, even though she expected it would be tiring work. Honey’s was one of the most popular restaurants in Charleston’s historic district, and Honey Jameson had a reputation as a great boss. Shawna dreamed of opening her own place someday, and she knew she could learn a lot from Honey’s.

So she walked in, ringing the hanging door bells, Wednesday morning ready to take on anything and everything. The young man wiping down the tables smiled as he looked up. “We don’t open till 11, sugar.”

“I’m starting work today. Honey told me to come in at 9?”

He flipped the towel over his shoulder and came toward her with his hand out to shake. “Oh, yeah, she said something. Shawna, right? I’m Adam. Honey got all your paperwork done the other day, didn’t she? Come on, I’ll show you around and we’ll get you started.”

Shawna followed Adam in a bemused daze as he chattered non-stop, pointing out features in the dining room, the kitchen, the pantry, and the walk-in fridge. “Okay, hon, here’s an apron. Go on and finish up in the dining room, will you? The cleaning crew does a good job, but we just like to go over everything before we open. And set the window seat for Miss Mary, will you?"

Adam left her at the counter and bounded back into the kitchen, calling out to the staff already beginning to prepare the day’s food. Shawna wandered around the dining room, making sure the tables and chairs were straight and there was a bud vase and shakers on each table. There was a small table set in the front bay window, and she supposed that was the one Adam wanted her to set for Miss Mary. She was just wondering what to set on the table when a cute Latino came out of the kitchen with a tray and flashed her a bright smile.

“You can set these on the table for Miss Mary, por favor.”

As Shawna took the tray, he grinned and added, “She likes to sit on the left side. Don’t stand there. She doesn’t like that.” He turned and was back in the kitchen before she could ask what he meant. Who was this Miss Mary? Why were they catering to her?

Shawna shrugged and took the tray to the table. She set it on the right side while she placed everything on the left. As she lay down the napkin, it fluttered out of her hand and onto the floor. Not thinking about the warning she had just received, Shawna bent over the seat to reach for the napkin. As she leaned down, she felt a shiver of freezing cold sweep over her, and a sharp rap on the top of her outstretched hand.

She jumped back and bumped the table behind her. “What the...!” She stared at the table, rubbing her hand. The door bells rang, and Honey walked in.

“Ah, you’ve met Miss Mary, I take it. She really doesn’t like it when we get in her space.” Honey looked at the table and saw the napkin. She walked behind the chair and stooped behind it, reaching in carefully as if to avoid touching someone. When she picked up the napkin, she snapped it back into a clean fold and placed it carefully on the table.

She rested her hand lightly on the back of the chair and said, “Miss Mary, please allow me to introduce our new staff, Shawna Whitson. She’s from over yonder past Orangegrove Creek. Please excuse the boys. You know how they like to joke. I see Juan Martin brought you a fresh cinnamon scone and some of your favorite peach tea. I hope you rest awhile and enjoy it.”

She stepped back and turned towards Shawna with a smile. “So, sugar, you ready to run out the door yet?”

Shawna followed her into the kitchen. “Miss Jameson, um, Miss Honey…”

Honey laughed, a rich, warm sound. “Just Honey will do, sugar. That’s what everyone calls me. Now, you’ve got questions. Let’s hear ‘em, and see if you still want the job.”

Shawna resisted the temptation to look back at the window table. She saw the expectant looks on Adam and Juan Martin’s faces as they studiously avoided looking at her. She saw the patient, accepting look in Honey’s eyes. Shawna shrugged. They were crazy, or putting her on, no doubt. She didn’t know how they’d pulled their little practical joke, but she wasn’t going to throw in the towel as easily as that. She could play their game just fine. “No ma’am. That is, what do you want me to do now?”

Honey’s smile lit her eyes. Adam nodded, and Juan Martin jumped a little in excitement. Shawna guessed she’d passed some sort of test. The slight sound of a chair scraping on the concrete floor made her jump. Honey picked up a knife to chop vegetables with Adam.

“Why don’t you go get the butter out of the fridge and start cutting pats to lay on the bread plates. Before you go in there, though, take a glass of water out to Miss Mary, will you?”

Dogs in house:

Time writing:
~1 hour

June word count:

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