Rose works at the Waffle House.
The 10 at night till 7 in the morning shift. 4 shifts a week.
For over 20 years.
She’s cute. Maybe 5 foot.
Black hair matches her eyes.
She says, “I’m fat.”
But I can’t see it.
She sees me before I get out of my car.
My favorite coffee is brewing before I take my place at the low bar.
Sometimes, when business slows and side work is caught up, she’ll take the chair next to me.
We talk about family, work, sleep and loneliness.
She’s a widow.
Going on 9 years.
Her husband played classical guitar and liked to smoke marijuana.
She turned 48 last month.
I thought she was 35.
A couple of months ago, she invited me to her niece’s birthday party.
She said, “It’s on Sunday. At the Filipino Club House.” She wrote time and directions on a napkin and I told her I’d try to make it.
I made it.
Rose was drunk and wanted to dance.
She introduced me to her niece, her sisters and brothers. She said, “This is my good, good, very good friend.”
Later, she cuddled close and had her sister take a picture. I squeezed Rose’s shoulder and she stroked my back.
I have that photo in my phone.
I’m looking at it right now.
We look very happy.