Payal chewed her nails as she looked at the T.V. “Damnit,” she said as the Predators iced the puck. She threw the wet rag on the table and frowned.
“Please, don’t curse while you’re on a shift.” It was her manager, blond-haired Becca. Becca was just a year older than Payal, a senior in their high school. But much like her hair, everyone considered her golden. Payal nodded as she tugged at her TGIF’s shirt, noticing how ill-fitting it was on her but well-fitting it was on Becca.
“Sorry, Becca,” Payal finished sweeping the crumbs off the table. It was a Wednesday night so the place was empty, unless the chairs were occupied by ghosts. Which, it probably was. She leaned against the table and turned back to the TV, aware that her inattention to work would earn her another scolding. But there was nothing to do anyway.
Bells clanged as the door opened. Putting on her best smile, Payal turned around. And then she frowned.
It was some of the boys from the hockey team.
Payal was surprised they were out this late. Wait, no, she wasn’t. Keeping her smile on, she walked over to the door.
“How can I help you?”
It was a group of boys from her grade — Max, Lyle, Ankit, Sol and Adam. Max smiled. Adam hung in the back, unsurprising after his gaffe had cost the team the game last night.
“Just you five?”
“Yeah,” Max said. The charmer of the group, with his dimple, neat black hair and deep brown skin. He was the only one of the group who knew how to socialize and act normal.
“Well,” she gestured behind her, “it’s pretty empty so… is there one place you want to sit?”
Max shrugged. “Anywhere is fine.” She just stared at him. Ankit pointed to a table near the door. “There, Max said, “We’ll sit there.”
Payal nodded, gathered menus and walked to their table. She shifted back to the cash register and chewed on a nail as she watched them. Adam seemed like a normal human being, no starry eyes or lack of awareness.
Still, she wondered what he’d seen.
Because she’d seen it too.