They came in holding bouquets of flowers from the parking lot. No one was going to tell them it was against policy to rummage through the garden. The summer, sticky hot, carried tufts of pollen into the restaurant. It seemed the buzz in the newspaper jumped from the man on the moon to updates on the Vietnam war to the Manson murders. 1969, the beginning of neon Perspex sunglasses. The end of a decade.
There were six of them. I saw the twins first. Hair curlicue’d like Siamese Janet Leighs. They hummed the melody of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in succession. The boy came in after. He chewed a stick of menthol and smoked a pack of cigarettes (both simultaneously) and waved off the girl on his arm when she pointed to the NO SMOKING sign by the bathroom. Her name was Cherry. She looked twelve and pinned her bangs back with a sparkly pink barrette. The oldest followed after, a stocky woman who bucked her chin up at me instead of asking for a table. Her eyebrows dot-to-dotted with eyeliner. The lanyard around her throat had the name Bernadette scrawled in Sharpie. The final of the six was a child. He looked buzzed on pop rocks. You think they have a pachinko machine?
We did not have a pachinko machine, but I waited their table anyway. The California heat humoured the deep freeze where we kept the ice cream. The twins would only eat breadsticks dipped in grocery store ranch and had me refill their platter three times. Cherry wanted pancakes and, despite telling her breakfast was only served until 11:00 (it was 4:00), wouldn’t stop asking. Just put in a special order, she pouted. The boy with the cigarette wanted a Shirley Temple and cursed at Bernadette when she said, What, Johnny, you like the girl drinks? She ordered an orange juice, then a milkshake, then an orange juice again. The little one only wanted the pachinko machine.
I learned later that the bouquets were for Cherry’s mother. When I brought her a tin of chicken pot pie (instead of the pancakes), she stopped me by the wrist and showed them off. These are her favourite. She pointed to the yellow ones. Layered and zingy. The stems smelling of root and summer. Aren’t they just lovely? I didn’t have the heart to tell her they were actually the buds of dandelions.
Rachel Lachmansingh is a seventeen-year-old writer from Toronto, Canada. When she isn’t busy creating new stories, she’s living the student life, drinking green tea, or feeding her obsession for Bates Motel.