Order Up

This is something I wrote about pancakes and syrup 12 years before AI existed. Can’t remember how or why.

The dishes are stacked, 
    stuck together like glue
 with pancake syrup and butter. 

Two coffee mugs remain,
   one with bright ruby red lipstick.

The couple had huddled over the coffee and French toast and eggs talking about their latest assignment. 

Young couple. Were they even a couple?

Two college kids, the most annoying kind, 
    fresh with ideas and inspiration 
    on tackling down everything wrong
    with the world. 

The tip, a crisp $5 dollar bill, 
    underneath the sugar dispenser
 waited patiently on the bottom of the table.

 A folded napkin
   with blue ink scribbles and doodles
  fell to the floor.

Once the sticky diner table
  (with a formica top and aluminum sides)
  is clear, it is time to wipe down: 
         a circular motion up and down until 
              the coffee stains are gone 
    and the syrup is not so sticky. 

Walking back to the kitchen 
   I want to get out of here
screams in her head.
   I need a real life.
      Maybe even just a dream, 
    a penny to wish on.

Dishes in the dishwasher clank and crash
  the machine swooshing over with water. 

They come out hot and dripping. 

The grill sizzles with the next order,
   an elderly couple,
  waiting for eggs 
     and bacon and sausage. 

Good, no pancake syrup this time.

Sneaking out back for a smoke break, 
   hands trembling in the cold air. 
She takes two puffs, inhaling hard. 

Her last breath as she waits for the words of the cook
    to echo through the morning:
 order up.

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