General Fiction posted October 6, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
A little tale of unplanned love.

For the L of It

by Elaine Chiodi

Lilly Larson loved being a lunch lady. She loved the word itself. "Lunch." The lifting of the tongue and the roll to the front teeth. The drop to the floor of the mouth. The small pucker at the end, like preparing for a quick kiss. "Lunch." Stretched out with a long "l", then a spit of "ch." Lllllllluncha.

She mentally played with the word while she slouched sideways waiting for the small family at Table Twelve to complete their order.

"Let's see... that's a Cobb salad for the lady, lite Balsamic dressing on the side; sole almandine, with lima bean succotash, no salad for the gent; and a peanut butter with strawberry jelly on sliced white for little girlie."

"Would you like some liquid refreshment with your meal? We have a lovely fresh-squeezed lemon-limeade, or perhaps a tall glass of milk for the little one?"

Acknowledging their slight head shakes in reply, Lilly left the table to place the order and fill glasses of water for the three folk. She was back in a flash with salad croutons for Mrs., a plate of lemon slices for the sole, and an extra napkin for girlie.

Her early shift was almost completed and she looked forward to a leisurely walk through the lilac garden next to the lily pad pond on the esplanade near her lodging. Long a relaxing pastime, Lilly sometimes felt the pangs of loneliness as she walked the leafy path alone. She led a solitary life and was alarmed that at almost forty, she felt the lack of a loving relationship.

"Hell's bell's," Lilly reflected, self-mockingly. "I'm long past the age for adulation and closer to being for-ty-lorn."

The clamor of the kitchen bell pulled Lilly back to the diner locale. She loaded the hot plates onto an aluminum tray and lifted it shoulder high to jig through the latticework of tables. Settling the meals before the family and checking if additional larder were required, she glanced around and saw that Mr. Littleton was signaling for his bill.

Mr. Littleton. Now, there was an absolute gentleman. He was one of Lilly's regulars, lunching at the diner several times a week and always selecting to sit at one of her tables. They sometimes chatted briefly, as she laid out his dining utensils and relishes. Books, the weather, what's-good-today, Lilly... The sort of small talk that serves as friendship in a businesslike milieu. Lilly often drew smiley faces on his tally, just under her name, because she liked him and it made him chuckle.

This time, as she laid his list on the table, Mr. Littleton reached out and lightly placed his hand over hers. Shyly, looking up at her bewildered face, he began: "Lilly, I've noticed that your shift ends after the lunch-hour rush. I'd like to spend some special time with you. Shall we meet for a little while later on today?"

Momentarily flustered and amid vacillating emotions, Lilly silently acknowledged a tingly flush throughout her body. From her brain to her heart to all her limbs and her very core, she smiled and quickly decided, "Surely, why not?"

"You surprised me, Mr. Littleton...," she started.

"Lloyd, please," he impulsed.

"Alright. Lloyd. Yes, how delightful. Usually after work, my ritual is a stroll amongst the lilacs on the lane near the lily pad pond. I'd love to show you my favorite locations along the path."

"Luckily, I know that splendid place precisely, and would enjoy walking with you," replied Mr. Littleton. "Let's meet at four at the trailhead. Perhaps a light meal later on? "

Mr. Littleton released Lilly's hand with a slight squeeze. Leaving his tip, he headed for the cashier, then turned and fluttered his fingers in a fare-thee-well to Lilly. She caught the flicker and returned the flutter.

As Lilly cleared the table and bustled to the kitchen, there was a rhythmic lilt in her steps and a swinging sway to her hips. Softly, she whistled... "While strolling through the park one day, la la la la la la la of May..." With a nod to coincidence, she realized that today was, indeed, the first day of "the very merry month of May."

Short Story contest entry

One of my first ventures into short story writing, as I'm more of a poet, this was strictly for fun. It was for me; I hope it is for you, too.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2020. Elaine Chiodi All rights reserved.
Elaine Chiodi has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.