Complimentary Short Story

By Paula T. Weiss

Momma’s Money

The waitress at the all-night diner next to the hospital knew why the thirtyish daughter and her middle-aged father were eating there at 2 am, and she discreetly kept her distance while casting an occasional glance at the table to see whether they wanted a coffee refill or the check. At this hour, in this diner, you were either a doctor, nurse or staffer finishing a shift, partiers emerging from the nearby nightclub, or newly bereaved. The pair clearly fell into the last category. The plain-looking daughter with disheveled brown shoulder-length hair, and a father in his mid-sixties, stared dully at their plates, eating mechanically, lifting forks as if they were maneuvering forklifts. They cupped identical white ceramic coffee mugs in front of their exhausted faces, inhaling the steam with the caffeine.