Some moments in certain places lend themselves to become a story. The cosmic timing of a situation links itself to become something greater. Some would call this happenstance. Others may label it coincidence. A select few would call this magic. For the next eight weeks, Creative Writing Club proudly presents eight tales from the Ram’s Horn Diner, a venture into the magic of coincidence, a serial of circumstance.
PART 1: EVEN IF THEY’RE FURTHER
“I’ll take the Ram’s Horn Special,” David said, his lips pursed into the largest smile he could muster. “Bacon, not sausage. Eggs scrambled. Rye bread.”
“Type of jelly?” the waitress asked. David thrust his head into his hands, leaning against the Dixie cup designs of the table.
“I always forget the type of jelly,” he said. “Grape, please.” Ignoring his theatrics, the waitress turned to the other side of the table, not so much moving her body, but slightly tilting her head a few degrees.
“Just a coffee, please. Brewed heavy,” Emma said.
“What?” The waitress asked.
“Sorry. Just a coffee please,” Emma repeated, slightly louder. The waitress nodded, and walked away.
“I feel like I can’t count myself as a regular here unless I have my whole order memorized, but I always forget something,” David said. Emma didn’t respond, instead poking the paper placemat of the table erratically with her fork, scratching out the advertisement for ‘JOHNSON, JOHNSON, AND HEGELFORTH: LAW CONSULTANTS.’
“Hey, look. Hegelforth is moving, they changed their ad and everything,” David attempted to strike up some semblance of conversation.
“Even if our doors are further away, they’re still always open to the loyal customers of the Ram’s Horn. That’s cute.” Still no response.
“Emma?” David asked. She eventually turned upward, and with tired eyes, blinked a few times in his direction.
“I just think we’re trying to distract ourselves from the talk we have to have,” Emma’s words sped from her mouth, crashing into the intersection of their conversation, totaling David’s question. Every part of David’s body slumped.
“There’s… there’s nothing to talk about,” he said, but she shook her head, still playing with her fork the whole time.
“That’s not fair. We’ve come too far to just say ‘see ya later!’ and just… just… just go our separate ways? That’s defeatist language, David.” As she spoke, she tore up more and more of the placemat. Realizing that ‘HEGELFORTH’ became ‘H-GE-RTH,’ she halted.
“Oh, please don’t do the linguistic thing,” David said. “You don’t have to dissect each of my words, just-”
The waitress approached with the coffee, placing it gently on the table. The acoustic aroma clashed against the neon lights of the diner and the somber grays of the conversation. David and Emma nodded awkwardly, immediately quieting down and waiting until the waitress’s footsteps faded.
“Just… understand what I’m saying: I can’t do long-distance relationships,” he continued. “Especially not all the way to Wisconsin. I’ve seen other people try, and it just… just… doesn’t work,” David finished his belated thought.
“You… can’t do it, or won’t?” Emma asked. David sighed.
“Listen, I’m… I’m happy for you. I really am,” he said. As he spoke, she nodded intently, slowly mixing the cream into her coffee with a cyclical motion. “This internship sounds amazing, the location sounds amazing, and I know for a fact you’re going to love it there. I just don’t think I can be a part of your journey,” he finished.
“I… I’m not going to force you to stay in this. I’m not going to put pressure on you. It just… it sucks, doesn’t it?” She waited for him to nod, slowly, and then took her first sip of the coffee.
The conversation laid dormant, resting like a volcano inside the red faux-leather seats, waiting to spring again. David received his meal, and began to spread the jelly messily. Growing frustrated by the stubborn clumps, he put the knife down, and instead jumped into the bacon.
“Okay, it’s just-” before Emma could say more, she caught the eyes of a man in the midst of slipping. For a brief second, no part of him was attached to the ground, and he went tumbling onto the linoleum tiles below. A few other guests rushed to his aid, and Emma turned to David, face red.
“Do. Not. Laugh,” David whispered, his lips curled up into his face. “That man could be hurt.”
“It’s not the fact that he fell, it’s just… the way he fell…” She tried to defend herself. “It just reminded me of that one time, when Tommy-”
“You do not need to remind me of the dining hall slip n’ slide, Emma, but I’m so happy you are,” David interrupted. She suppressed a snort of laughter, and he hid his face in his rye toast.
“What was your… what was your favorite moment, from the relationship?” She asked him. He put his fork down.
“I… I don’t…” His speech slowed.
“Don’t what?” She asked.
“This just feels like one of those ‘Best Moment Compilation’ episodes that appear right before the series finale. I hate that. I hate how that feels.”
Emma nodded, and placed her hands on his.
“Once again—and I’m not trying to pressure you, but—it doesn’t necessarily have to end here. We don’t necessarily have to end here.”
Across the diner, someone slammed their hands against a table. David and Emma turned, and watched the table rock on the flimsy hinges holding it to the floor.
“At least… at least we’re not having that bad of a night, right?” She said. David smiled, but he quickly faded back into his scrambled eggs.
“I guess I’m just scared, Emma,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. I’ve seen so many things like this break in a bad way, and I don’t want that to happen to us. Distance is… terrifying.”
“David… Even if our doors are further away…”
“They’re still always open. How dare you quote Hegelforth at me,” he said. She rose from her seat, sitting next to him, scooting next to him on his side of the booth.
“Can we leave? It’s been really weird here,” Emma said.
“Agreed. Let’s go.”
Max James is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in creative writing.