She catches that smile, as if it were tossed her way, and stretches her hand across the table, grabbing hold of his. Chubby Checker is playing on the jukebox, and for a moment, as she gives his hand a tug, he thinks she’s going to drag him out onto the black and white checkered floor to do “The Twist.”
Oh, how he hates dancing. But for her...anything.
Instead she just stares back, her head swaying to the tune, her soft brown curls bouncing on her shoulders. He closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath, wanting the moment to never end.
“Anything you’d like?”
His eyes pop wide, and he turns to his side. Their waitress, tall, with horned rimmed glasses tipped up and tangled into hair also as red as the Naugahyde, stands to the side chomping gum, her head cocked, a yellow Number 2 pencil to her little pad.
“A chocolate shake,” he replies. “Two straws.”
Her mouth goes slack and she stands there in shock, as if having seen a ghost. After what seems forever, she drops her arms and turns, taking only a single step before stopping and spinning back his way.
Her look hits him like an electric shock, and in that moment he realizes that somehow her white uniform dress has changed into green scrubs, purple little ducks stamped here and there. That her paper pad has transformed into a clipboard, several pinkish sheets rolled over the top, and the Number 2 pencil, while still yellow, has become a fancy pen of some kind. He now sits in a wheelchair at a table in a spacious dining room, sunshine pouring in through large paned windows along the side, rather than a diner, Chubby Checker pouring out of the jukebox somewhere in the back.
And Emma, her long brown curls and soft green eyes, no longer sits across from him, her warm hand wrapped in his.
“Rachel....get Mrs. Crowley. Mr. Dillion just spoke! Five long years and he finally spoke! He actually spoke to me!! And guess what...he wants a chocolate shake,” the waitress turned caregiver calls out. But then she stops, her face going into a funny twist as she looks his way. “Wait...did you say you wanted two straws?”