The Visitor


Peter is laughing beside me, the chocolate milkshake that he is drinking is bubbling from his contained laughter. My dad shakes his head as he continues to dry a fountain glass. I raise my arms to exaggerate my point of why what I just said to them is not just funny, but completely unnatural.

"So when she jumped up and saw me she started yelling louder than any other girl that I know and, I swear to God, she almost fell over!" I cough out while laughing and though I hear the bell over the door jingle I don't look behind me. "You should have seen her dad, funniest thing I'd ever seen." 

After I stop laughing and the bubbles have smoothed out in Peter's milkshake my dad clears his throat. "Looks like Burt has a visitor this summer." 

"What makes you say that Eddy?" Peter asks, finally prying his mouth from the straw. His blond hair is nearly white and his forest green eyes urge my dad to answer.

"Well, were you boys so wrapped up in your stories that you didn't notice that young girl walk in here on her own?"

"Yeah dad," I say. "But a lot of people come in here."

"I'd never seen her around here before." He says. I can tell that his thoughts are already straying.

"Dad, believe it or not, people do come to Robbin for the beach and the weather and the fun. We aren't abandoned, so, new people should come every so often." 

He swats at me with the cloth and I lean back, laughing all the while.

"She looked like Anna."

"Who?" It is Peter who speaks for the two of us now. 

My dad's slightly aged face crumples at some distant memory and his thick grey eyebrows bunch up like they always do when he is gone from the here and now. "Poor Burt."

"He looked fine. He's changed a lot, I wouldn't feel so bad for him." Peter comments. 

I watch my dad, like so many times before, snap back to the diner and to our conversation. His dull brown eyes look weary and tired. "He's just been through a lot in his life." He turns around and places the fountain glass back in its place and warns the couple in the last booth, Jody and Elliot, that he is closing up soon. Elliot nods and dad sends Genny on her way. 

The diner has been in the family since before dad had taken over. Every time I help out with the orders on days that I have off from school, I would remember grandma and her extravagant outfits when she visited grandpa. He would be covered in the sleek sweat that could only be gained from being behind the grill for too long, but she had still looked at him with adoring eyes. By the time that grandma had died, dad had already taken over and grandpa rarely left his old home by the beach. Mom often complains about dad's endless hours at work, but he loves it. He loves showing me how to make the perfect dessert and he loves seeing people like Peter pass the day away at his diner. 

I push my now empty glass forward. "I'll check out what needs to be done in the back and Peter will check out what needs to be cleaned out here."

"Hey now Riley, don't go making these crazy assumptions about what I'm going to do." Peter protests.

"It's alright boys. No need to worry, go on and be teenagers--it is the first night of summer after all." Dad's voice sounds tired despite himself and I nudge Peter for his words. He knows how this is for my dad, he is at my house almost every Friday and the sight of dad coming in soundlessly and with sunken shoulders is no unknown vision to him. 

"I was only kidding Eddy, you know I'll always help you out." Peter says, already on the move. 

I smile at my dad and soundlessly transmit that better have some chocolate milkshakes lined up for the summer. I then walk towards the swinging kitchen door, preparing myself for a long night.  

The End

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