Lunch Time

Sonia hummed to herself as she stepped out of the bathroom. She noticed a young, pale man in black jeans, maybe 16 or 17, walk into the diner and head toward a booth. She did not think much of it as she headed back to the kitchen, until the young woman realized she wasn’t breathing.

She exhaled when the fact registered, and immediately the din of dozens of conversations roared to life in the small restaurant. She glanced at the new patron, but the sudden increase in noise did not seem to concern him. He focused on the menu flipping back and forth between two pages as if trying to pick one.

“Hey, Sonia.” She heard the head cook’s voice and turned toward the kitchen. A short, muscled man in a hairnet pointed past her to the young man sitting alone. “Everything okay, or do you want to hand the table off to someone else?”

“What? OH!” She shook her head. “Sorry, I’ll get it.” The stranger distracted her so much, Sonia did not realize he sat in her section. “Okay, let’s test this out,” she thought to herself. Sonia took a deep breath and held it for her walk to the table. Everyone around her froze and silence took over the restaurant. As she approached the man she noticed he tapped his fingers on the table, waiting patiently. He turned suddenly and met her eyes. He took a quick glance around the restaurant, then he met her eyes again and smiled. Sonia let her breath escape when she reached the table and the restaurant came to life again.

“Hi!” Sonia smiled at him. Now that she stood closer she admired the light grey color of his eyes. He nodded in return.

“Hi. I’ll take the burger basket and a chocolate shake,” he said.

“Oh.” The food order caught Sonia by surprise, she expected him to say something else. She quickly wrote it down. “Anything else I can help you with? Any other questions? About anything?” She asked, hoping he would bring up the stopped time. She clearly saw him move when everyone else was froze, but somehow she felt embarrassed to bring it up first. He shook his head.

“No, thanks.”

“Okay, be back in a flash,” she walked to the back to input the order. She stood in a way that she could see him, and held her breath several times in a row. Each time he continued to move, even though everyone else froze. Sonia spent 20 minutes scheming up ideas to get him to acknowledge her time-stop antics. Finally, when his order was ready, she saw an opportunity.

Sonia carried the order to the young man’s table. After she placed the burger in front of him, she was less careful with the milkshake. After some intentional fumbling, the chocolate shake ended up on the floor.

“Oh no, I’m sorry!” Sonia apologized. “I’ll fix it,” she winked at the man and held her breath to rewind time. The glass jumped off the floor back up to the table, then back on to Sonia’s serving tray, then she exhaled. She placed the shake in front of him, again, and smiled.

“Thanks,” he nodded and reached for the burger.

“That’s it?” Sonia asked. “Thanks?” The man’s hands stopped before he touched the food and he looked up at her in confusion. “I just rewound time!” she whispered harshly.

“I said thank you,” the man shrugged. Sonia sighed and sat down in the booth across from him.

“But I rewound time!” Sonia felt frustration building in her. She decided to ask her questions instead of waiting for him to answer. “Who are you? How can you move when I stop time? Why aren’t you surprised?” The pale man reached for the burger again.

“Is that a big deal here?” he asked, then took a large bite.

“Yeah,” Sonia giggled. “Can you do it?” he shook his head. After chewing for several seconds he swallowed.

“I can’t, but it’s a pretty common ability,” he said. “Stopping time, anyway,” he shrugged. “Rewinding time is pretty impressive I guess.”

“So you’re not from around here?” Sonia asked.

“Just passing through,” he replied. “But you’re welcome to tag along when I leave if you like.”

“Where are you going next?” She asked. He shrugged.

“Nowhere in particular. It just depends what universe we end up in.” The pale man smiled and extended a hand across the table. “My name is Oren.”

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