Dainty Bird Diner Chipped Blue Plate Special
It had been a whole rodeo explaining what happened the other night. The side of her palm was shiny from rubbing across paper for most of the afternoon. But, other than a wildebeest, there had been no casualties. The end result was just some empty talk about securing the areas better and a slap on the wrist for not communicating with her coworkers about the situation after that last message.

Monica sat along the bar at the Diner, eyes closed, listening to the hum around her. The late night crowd was always relatively peaceful. Kids who felt like this was a cool place to sneak out to, truckers who knew about the hidden gem, and people like her. Tired and just wanting to drink coffee in peace.

The man behind the counter gave her a nod as she placed the massive plate of chicken fried steak and eggs and hash browns and bacon, oh and don't forget the five-stack of pancakes. She wasn't really a regular, but she assumed they'd seen her face enough at this point not to ask why (or how) she ate so much food. Finishing off her mug (and inching it towards the other side of the bar for eventually refilling), she poured a thin drizzle of syrup over her pancakes and slowly tucked in.


She was here to meet someone.

He made her come to this diner once a week. He always wanted her to show up here first for their dates, overdressed and out of place. She was pretty sure he liked the subtle humiliation of it. Because he was always late, but she definitely had to be on time because his timing was so utterly unpredictable. Sometimes it was only a few minutes. Once he'd made her wait well over an hour. It was good he still paid for it.

Fucking frustrating, but for the past four months or so, he'd also proven to be a reliable under the table tipper for her nights. So she played his game, reminded herself every time that she was just here for the money.

She nodded to a place at the bar, and they sat her by a woman who sent her eyes flashing gold as her inner sable regarded the presence of a yet unidentified were and her food with interest. She just decided to peruse the menu, as if she didn't know what she wanted.

(It was everything the woman next to her was having. But gods help her if she had that much food in front of her when Mr. Donohue came in.)
Eating slowly was a learned skill. The first few times she'd inhaled a big meal like this, she'd gotten pretty sick. And then she just had to eat again. So that sucked.

It was all logic. Start with what would be the least good cold. In her opinion, that was the pancakes. Sometimes eggs if she got them scrambled, but it was over easy tonight, so she wasn't too worried about it. Once you put the syrup on the pancakes it was a race against the clock. The syrup would make them soggy and them almost congealed if they got cold. Each forkfull was five deep wedges that she jammed elegantly into her mouth. The waiter had refilled her coffee as he gestured at someone behind her and she naturally adjusted on her stool to center herself.

Seemed like weres liked it out here. She ate another wedge of pancake and side-appraised the fancily dressed woman with momentarily pale eyes. She was pretty, big earrings and exposed skin. Monica set her fork down and lifted her mug to her mouth.

"You're probably the nicest dressed person this place has ever seen."
Why was she being spoken to? What was it about existing that drove total strangers to speak to each other? Nisha never understood it, but certainly that played into her john's idea of fun at it all. He liked to hear about whoever spoke to her or stared at her or whatever.

The woman next to her was very tall, and made taller by her own shorter and thinner stature. Even sitting, you could tell that kind of thing after a certain difference.

She offered a side smile on the side the woman sat on, a wry look more than a kind one. "Probably. Do you think that means they want me to spend more than their usual guest?" she asked, the accent there for all she'd toned it down some.

Never once did she pick her eyes up off the menu, but still they were gold.
It wasn't super typical of her to talk to strangers, and perhaps it had been overstepping to start by commenting on her appearance. Curiosity killed the cat.

"By that logic," Monica decided to keep it short. "I'd probably be paying less." In a dusty black t-shirt and mudded khakis she looked a bit rougher than some of the truckers in here. She went back to eating, white eyes staring intently down at her plates. But it was hard to ignore the feeling of golden eyes burning a hole in her cheek. Oh no, she'd already said too much. The cat was very content to be fed, honestly, only vaguely perturbed by the stranger and her vibes.
She offered a soft snort of humor. Yes, yes, the woman was not particularly done up. That wasn't a bad thing.

Deciding finally on some dish that he wouldn't find off-putting to walk in on, Nisha closed her menu and looked to the giant next to her. "It's humiliating, you know," she sighed, reaching in her pocketbook for a vaping pen. "To come in here like this. No one goes to diners in saris unless they have no choice."

Conversation! It was a story to tell him later to widen the stack he'd slip her.

Could she vape in here? She was already doing so much that was illegal that she supposed it didn't matter.
Monica did her best not to tip her head down at the woman. Just milky white eyes. Since, you know, they were speaking now. She decided to pick at her bacon now.

She cocked a brow. "No choice?" Was it a cultural thing? A dare? Or someone just telling her she had to. It was an interesting fashion choice, as she had previously mentioned. But in the end she didn't think too much of it. Some people just liked dressing up.

God, this bacon was good. She folded a piece and popped it in her mouth.
"No choice," she confirmed.

The waitstaff was there just then to ask her for her order, and she nodded. A cup of coffee, black, a platter of bacon, inspired by the bacon the woman next to her had ordered, and eggs Benedict. That was all, though she did ache hellishly for more.

No luck.

"It's my date's birthday," she carried on to explain once her order was in, bringing her vape pen to her lips and inhaling gently before exhaling. "And he wanted both to see me like this and to eat here. So? Lost cause from the start for me."

It was not his birthday, but it was certainly a story to sell.
Monica scoffed and turned back to her food. She really wanted to finish off these pancakes before they reached the congealed stage. Thankfully they were still warm. But just barely. Still, she did her best to not inhale them. The bacon had almost pushed her over the edge. The taste of syrup was momentarily overwhelmed by the scent of the woman's vape and she paused, turning just her head to look at her, fork still full of pancake.

"Happy birthday, I guess. Hopefully he's dressing up, too." Monica looked over her shoulder, the diner stool twisting beneath her. She half-expected to see a man walk in in jeans and a t-shirt, having the audacity to ask his girlfriend to look like a princess. He couldn't even do the same. But no one walked in. She turned back and stuffed the wedge of pancake in her mouth.

"Eggs Benedict was a good choice, just by the way." She commented, tempted to order some, too. Maybe after this woman's date arrived.
The tall woman was all manner of well-wishing. She smirked as she took a drag from her pen before releasing it to the other side, likely annoying someone. But who cared, really.

The idea of Me. Donohue dressing up was laughable at best. That was part of the humiliation for him, of course.

"Thank you," she smiled to the final comment, a compliment she could actually call her own. "Do you think he will find it a ladylike enough meal?"
She cut the final wedge in half, just to savor it a little more. Working on the steak next would probably be the best idea. It would give her something to do for a moment before she started stuffing food in her mouth again. As in, cutting it into appropriately sized pieces, until the pancakes.

"I think so," Monica gave a shrug. Nothing here was presented in a particularly fancy manner, but the name was fancy. Sometimes that was enough. "Too bad they don't have mimosas here."
The question had been with some wryness to it, but it was good enough.

Mimosas weren't a terrible idea. Maybe he could get them for her tomorrow morning. She nodded in light approval of the idea.

"So. What is it you do?" she asked, as her coffee came. What was she, too? There was the faintest natural interest.
She ate the last of her pancake and shuffled the plate to pull the steak to her.

A mimosa would be...incredible with this. She'd really have to suggest that. How did liquor licenses work?

"I work at the safari park nearby taking care of the animals and making sure people don't get out of their cars or feed the giraffes doritos."
The safari park. She had to confess that she didn't even know that there was a safari park in this part of the world, but it was not a common place for her to go on a date.


"Do you just stay clear of the animals?" she asked. For the longest time animals never seemed to like her. She hadn't realized that in the last few months that had changed.
"I try," She said evenly. "Most of the animals at the park don't see me as much of a threat and, other than the herbivores and some of the older carnivores, we're encouraged to keep our distance."

And that was very much fine with the cat. Though she did get a little antsy around anything that seemed remotely edible sometimes. She'd also had her fair share of close calls, even in New York.

"What do you do?" Monica decided to turn the question around so she could start on her steak.
Oh. That was different, and new. It was good she didn't test them much, though.

Nisha moved for her coffee, holding the vape pen in her other hand for now. Thinking about the natural return of the question, and what she should say. What story she should pick. There were so many.

"I'm a therapist," she decided, then amended — "Aromatherapist."

Far less official.
The first cut, Monica's knife eked across the plate and she twitched. Her hands lifted and she just took a moment to look at her company again.

"That's interesting." Monica wasn't entirely sure what else to say. "Do you have a lot of clients?" It seemed like it would be hard to make a living off of smells. Then again, if she'd learned anything in the last few years, it was that smells could tip the scales.
"A loyal following," she smiled. Loyal, when they were cheating on their wives for the most part. It was funny.

Before she knew it her food was set before her, which seemed fairly fast. Nisha picked up her knife and wasted no time slicing into the poached yolk, letting the plate fill with it. Better to get that part over with.

"What did you have to do for your job? Study? I just earned some certificate online for mine."
If it seems holistic, they will come. Monica forked the cursed first piece of steak.

"I studied environmental sciences in college. I don't know how I managed with everything--" She lifted her brows. "that happened, but this was something I'd been wanting to do for a long time." Not necessarily here, but it hadn't turned out as poorly as she thought.
Ah, college. Quick, Nisha, did you go to college?.She didn't ask, so there was no call for a fake answer. Preferable this way.

"Congratulations," she decided. "Were you on your own?"
"Oh, thanks," She cleared her fork, sort of flattered at the congratulations.

"I wasn't, but we had a falling out about..." What month was it? "A month ago." It was hard to act like that didn't sting, but nine years was a very, very long time.

"Falling out?" she asked, naturally interested in someone else's drama.

Carefully, she cut into the English muffin beneath the egg and swept a bite of both to her mouth.
Monica, in the other hand, was not the type to lean in on dramatics. The break-up had been painful and felt all parties involved feeling a new level of sore.

"A very bad break-up," she decided to admit. Because why not to a stranger she'd probably never see again. Because maybe saying it out loud enough would dampen the feelings.

"My condolences. Who did the breaking up?" she pressed, perhaps callously. But it was interesting and a distraction as she ate.
Why did she think that would be the end of it?

"She did. Not that I'm free of blame." Maybe Monica been too clingy. Too headstrong. In the end, she was fairly certain that it had come down to the were. Near the end, she'd let it take over more and more. And Monica just couldn't abide. "Cats are fickle, headstrong creatures."
She! A queer person. That was the word, right? It was what Nisha had grown up hearing them called.

She supposed she herself didn't have her own orientation. She worked for whoever wanted to pay her. It brought her to a lot of different beds.

Then, the other bit. "Small or large?" she asked in natural curiosity. Outside, a flash of headlights caught her attention, but she couldn't tell if it was a familiar car and turned her face from the brief glance she'd thrown that way.
"Small," Monica cleared her throat a bit. "I think that makes it worse." It felt like night and day sometimes. The cat was clearly overcompensating sometimes. Most were much larger than she was.

"What about you?" She asked, as she continued at her steak.
"Small, though—" she started, but just as she was willing to settle into this aspect of conversation and actually shoot the shit, her phone lit up and buzzed next to her. Ah. "One moment."

She sent the man a text. Apparently he didn't want to come in for dining after all. She wished she could say she was surprised.

Nisha turned around, noted the headlights of the car waiting outside. "I have to leave, I suppose," she sighed, reaching into her purse to swap her phone with her wallet and pull out too much cash to pay for her unfinished meal.
Curiosity wouldn't kill the cat, but certainly irritate it. While the woman beside her addressed her phone, Monica chewed through a bit more of her meal, maybe a bit too eagerly, since she'd been picking at it since the conversation began.

"Inconsiderate." She said lightly, all things considered. Including the wad of cash. She thought that aromatherapy might be a better career path. "Have a good night." She regarded the barely eaten eggs sadly, then to her.
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