Dan has a question for Megan.

Fridays were early closing for Shabbat. We’d talked about getting someone else to do the cooking and another regular waitress to cover Fridays and Saturdays but the cost outweighed the gain. I supposed we’d have to think about it again if we wanted to get more customers in.

Jimmy left me to finish locking up while he went up to his flat to get showered and changed. Dan knocked on the door as I was finishing, I’d seen him sitting in his economy BMW in the parking spaces outside and assumed he was talking on his phone, he could’ve come in for a coffee otherwise.

I let him in. ‘Don’t you normally go in via the flat door?’

‘What? Yes…’ He rubbed the back of his neck and leaned against one of the tables I’d just cleaned.

I gave him a look and he stood up.

He cleared his throat. ‘I was wondering if I could ask you something… delicate.’

The bottom dropped out of my stomach and I went back to checking the salt and pepper pots. ‘I suppose.’

He looked at me as if he’d expected something else, which made me wonder what he thought of me. Did he think I was a shy, little, bore in oversized glasses and flannel shirts? Or was he like Jimmy and knew what was lurking behind my bright red frames and lipstick? It had never occurred to me to think about it because it had never occurred to me to think about Dan like that.

‘Has Jimmy mentioned… Has he mentioned anyone special, to you?’ he asked.

I stopped myself sighing in relief. ‘Special?’ I turned away to put the salt and pepper refills back on the shelf.

‘It’s just… I don’t know if I’m being dramatic but I think he’s got a girlfriend stashed away somewhere.’

I shook my head. It wasn’t technically a lie, Jimmy hadn’t told me about any secret relationships.

He leaned on the counter, glanced about, and whispered, ‘I was looking for mouthwash this morning and he’s got sanitary pads in the cupboard.’

‘They’re mine, I kept some in the staff toilet but your niece kept using them when she was on shift.’ Which was true. ‘I kept ending up with empty packets.’

‘Oh.’ He sat back. ‘Doesn’t explain the fuck ton of condoms though.’

I raised my eyebrows. ‘Wow, that many?’ I wouldn’t have called it a ‘fuck ton’, we didn’t need a ‘fuck ton’ they wouldn’t fit Jimmy’s tongue. Not that I’d object if he fancied trying them on anything more substantial. I rubbed my nose to hide my smile.

‘… it doesn’t really narrow it down,’ he said.

‘Hm?’ I should’ve been listening instead of thinking about Jimmy penetrating anything.

‘This might need a social media deep dive.’

‘Jimmy doesn’t use social media,’ I said, neither of us did, which was part of our problem.

‘Good old fashion legwork then.’ He nodded.

‘Hmmm.’ It really wouldn’t take much leg work.

He straightened the business card display beside the till. ‘What do you think of internet dating?’

I slid him a sidelong look. ‘Pardon?’

‘I was thinking of suggesting it to Jim.’

I put the cards back where they’d been. ‘I don’t think he’ll go for it. And don’t just sign him up for it, that only works on TV, he’ll never speak to you again.’ And I might beat Dan to death with Jimmy’s paddle if he did.

He shrugged and made a vague gesture. ‘The thought hadn’t crossed my mind.’

I pressed my hands against the counter. ‘You know people only say that when they’ve been thinking about it.’

He chuckled. ‘Fine, I considered it but I won’t, if you think it’s a bad idea.’

I sighed and shook my head. ‘It’s a bad idea, maybe he’s happy as he is.’

Dan frowned and I was struck by what bushy eyebrows he had. I’d never paid much attention before, no matter how much I thought about it I couldn’t imagine myself with Dan and didn’t want to.

Jimmy came back in without having tucked his shirt into his jeans, he would standing on the doorstep of his parent’s house before his mother told him to. He grinned at me then spotted Dan and did the same frown Dan had a moment before. ‘What’re you doing in here?’

‘Just having a chat with Megan,’ Dan said.

Jimmy’s gaze flicked between us, I shook my head slightly and he relaxed.

‘Are you ready?’ Dan asked.

‘Hm?’ Jimmy swung round to look at him. ‘Yes, yup.’

Dan rolled his eyes. I suppressed a smile, wondering if Jimmy was disappointed he wasn’t going to get a chance for a goodbye kiss after all.

‘Are you alright locking up?’ he asked me.

‘You should know by now,’ I said.

Dan slapped Jimmy’s shoulder. ‘Meg’s got it, you know that. Don’t worry so much.’

I very much doubted worry was on Jimmy’s mind.

He forced a smile. ‘I’ll see you Sunday then.’

‘See you soon,’ I said.

His smiled became genuine.

I waved as they left and locked the door behind them. Sometimes it would be nice if we didn’t have to book time, I could’ve stayed the night and snuggled but Nan would get suspicious if I was out all night two nights in a row.

When I pulled Bessie the bike into the front garden two hours later the lace curtains twitched as Nan peek around the edge. Seeing there was nothing interesting going on she dropped the curtain back into place. I sighed heavily, adjusted the straps of my rucksack, and went inside.

Nan popped her head through the door from the lounge with a cup of tea in her hand before I got my boots off. ‘You’re late. Fancy man?’

‘Nope.’ I got the shopping out my rucksack. ‘Milk and bread.’

She took it from me and looked positively disappointed.

I smothered another sigh and went upstairs to my attic room, which always made me wonder why we still called the house a bungalow. 

‘Fancy a cuppa, love?’ she called after me.

‘No,’ I shouted back.

Maybe I needed a change; I was a woman in my thirties living with my nan and sneaking around because everyone I knew were nosey sods. I was living in limbo without a plan. I sat down at my desk and open a notepad I might have unintentionally nabbed from work. It had the ‘001’ stamped at the bottom of the page in thin red letters. Fitting, I supposed.

‘Step one…’ I tapped my biro against the page.

‘Megan, that bloke with the lovely bum is on the telly,’ Nan shouted.

‘Step one,’ I wrote. ‘Find a flat.’

Feature image by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

For more episodes of Take a Bite Cafe click here.

Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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