She was a child and as a child she didn’t want to finish her breakfast. Icky and cold it wasn’t fun anymore. The maple syrup was gross and thick but still looked cool when you stuck a fork in it and pulled it out slow. Looks like Spider-Man if you do it just right. Or you can drag your fork through the pool of syrup and make little canyons that filled and disappeared as the tines plowed through. Swirl. Capital A, almost there for a second. Dip a finger to see what it feels like on her skin. Sticky, duh. Wipe finger on pants. Still sticky. Finger in mouth. Ick. Lint. Rub the finger on her jeans again. Drop the fork. Poke what’s left of maple soggy pancakes with the spoon. The spoon leaves a different track in the syrup. Like her finger but different, bigger. Hand to her brown hair. Oops, all stuck together. Free the hair. Maybe a paper napkin will get the sticky off. Nope. Just sticks to the sticky. Uh-oh. Paper tears. Won’t come off with a swipe on the pants. Busted! Must have been in the bathroom. A woman with short brown hair. Eyes on. Right to the girl.
“Sweetie! Don’t play with your food!” Head down, hands up. Disappointment. He’d been there and done that. Carved his name into the tree of failure. Hold your hands up, let Mom dip a napkin in water and start cleaning up. Fingers, face and hair. Rub-a-dub-dub. Don’t fight, only makes it worse. A glass of water plonks on the table in front of him, sloshing. “What can I get for you?”
Startled. “A cinnamon roll. With a side of bacon.”
“Roll with a side of bacon.” She looks the type who should be chewing gum but isn’t. A graying ponytail. Close in age to reading glasses on a chain but not yet. Doesn’t write down the order. “Anything to drink?”
“You got it. Want that roll heated?” He nods. “It’ll be a few–we don’t use a microwave. That OK?” He nods again. “OK, I’ll get your DP and then it’ll be a couple of minutes.” As she walks away workout shoes, jeans and pink shirt he turns back to watch as Mom is finished cleaning up the little brown haired girl.
“Miss?” he calls to her backside. Stopping she turns as she has a thousand times. Another changed mind.
“What else can I get you?” Walking up she fingers the pencil in her hair as she considers writing things down.
Holding out his hand he lets the bracelet fall, holding one end between his thumb and forefinger. The chain snap straight, rebounds and swings. “I found this out front. I think it may belong to that little girl over there.” Juts with his chin. “Would you mind…” She reaches out and he drops it into her outstretched palm. “Thank you.”
“No problem sugar.”