A story that is crazy dear to my heart was accepted for inclusion in an anthology. I don’t have a firm release date for the antho yet, but I’m excited that it’s getting close (soon, very soon!) When I have a cover I’ll share that but for now, here’s an unedited excerpt… a little teaser of Cleary’s story.
By way of background:
Fixin’ Biscuits is the name of the diner where Cleary has worked for a decade. She’s a “lifer” and the full timers have a nickname for the part time girls who think they can earn tips by wearing lacy bras under those nothing to the imagination white uniform blouses they’re obligated to wear: white toast.
Here’s a snippet from some banter between Cleary and one of the more trying of the white toasts… Enjoy and check back soon for a cover reveal and release date.
Unedited excerpt: Fixin’ Biscuits
I dribbled the last of the cream from the stainless steel pitcher into a chipped stoneware mug. Perfect example of adult accountability. I chipped that mug early one morning, knicked the lip against the counter while I was carrying a few too many things on a few too many hands (and fingers, as this mug had been empty and I’d looped the handle over my thumb.) I chipped it, I bought it, so to speak. I kept that mug in a secure place behind the counter and when I take breaks, I drink only from the mug that I damaged. DeeDee would not care, she’d toss the mug and not even dock me for it, but it’s the principle. I sipped from the side of the lip that was smooth, the chip close but not close enough to cut me. I looked at this new-ish girl, tried to see past the tacky lipcolor, way too dark for lips that thin on a face that pale. I noticed a bump in her hair that she hadn’t smoothed when she’d fastened a barrette that held growing-out bangs.
I checked my spoon for water spots and wiped it clear with a fingertip. “I know you’re still fairly new here and maybe don’t know how things work. Fixin’ Biscuits runs on a very regular schedule. I have my schedule, you have yours. DeeDee makes the schedule, we work the schedule. If you want to work your job around your social life, try applying out at the mall.” I took a slow sip of my coffee, letting the impact of my ‘no’ settle in. “I’m off this Sunday. And unless you decide not to show, which of course would cost you your job, you will be working.”
“My grandmother is dying,” she squinted at me. Her voice was angry and her eyes glimmered with what I assumed was disdain. “I have to go visit her in the hospital.”
“Honey, go visit her Saturday night.” I pulled a piece of day old bagel off with my fingers and smeared a thin layer of butter from a foil packet onto the soft-enough center. I put the food in my mouth and swung the stool to right, looking past the toastie girl to the small TV perched above the counter. “I’m off this Sunday. Now will you excuse me? We full-timers need our breaks.”
For some floozy teenager to sleep off a hangover she got drinking up her Saturday tips… no, I will not switch a Sunday.
This gets back to my personal standard thing. These kids haven’t been awake and in uniform in the still-dark of 4am, leaning against the rounded glass pastry case wiping clean the lines left behind from hasty dishrags from the closers the night before. The early morning smells of cleaning up for opening precedes even the first drip of coffee, and those are smells and sounds and sights you don’t forget. I know what it feels like to fight fatigue so numbing it’s frightening. I know what the tightness in your legs from a decade of food service means. I know how isolation, and otherness, and less than means that no one will look out for you unless you look out for yourself. Those girls would turn on me in a heartbeat’s time if they thought they could hurt me. So I keep my distance and I keep it all about business. That way they don’t get in and I don’t have to come out.
Thank you so much for reading!