D NER by Sarah Russell
Wish it had been the R that fell, she thought. Then it would say DINE, like the food was good, like it was more than runny eggs and meatloaf. But it was the I, and everyone called it the DEE-ner, like some hillbilly joint. Jake said it gave the place character, didn’t even know where the I had blown to after all these years.
She hated waiting tables. Her mama said she was uppity. “Worst thing we did was name you Chelsea after that foreign place,” her mama said. “You get off your high horse and make peace with staying here.” But she never would. Never! She’d get a little money ahead and clear out. Go where Chelsea was an OK name, and DINE was what folks did, and tips were more than a quarter.
“You gonna stub that smoke and get back to work? I ain’t paying you to be on break all day.”
“When you gonna put the I back, Jake?”
“No time soon, Chelsea girl. No time soon.”