No. 3 – the way mothers do

4 Jan

Violet was the prettiest waitress at the truck stop cafe. You may not think that is saying very much, but trust me, Violet had an angel’s face. She stood out partly because she was the only one who ever smiled. Violet smiled through the foggy haze of the smoking section, emptying ash-trays and taking orders. She smiled as she scrubbed extra hard at tables sticky with maple syrup. She even smiled as she ran the carpet sweeper with its rhythmic zip, zip, zip, erasing cracker crumbs crushed into the floor by the chubby little fists of toddlers in high chairs.

Violet didn’t have any children, but she loved them. It was easy to tell she loved all her customers, too. There was never a request Violet did not at the very least try her hardest to fulfill and always with those beaming cheeks of fresh pink rose.

The truck stop was located on the edge of a town where the census three years prior had recorded that only 423 people were living there. It was 1955 and Violet was one of those 423, living in a small two-bedroom house along with her mother and her mother’s dachshund, Marty who the census did not count even though he was just as spoiled as any child you ever saw. Violet’s mother was a widow who stayed at home and did all the cooking. Violet wasn’t fond of cooking meals after having to serve them all day on tired feet, so she was grateful to her mother for her willingness to slave over a hot stove night after night, the way mothers do.

Everyone in town loved Violet. Even those who were prone to gossip only spoke of her to say it was a wonder she hadn’t married yet, a girl of twenty-six and so pretty the way she was. Such a hard worker, too, they’d say. Eventually they’d grow tired of gossip and start chattering about what their own children were up to, bringing out brag books and photographs to show off, the way mothers do.

One Saturday night at the little truck stop cafe, among the usual patrons of truck drivers who always ordered coffee and tipsy high school kids who never left tips, Violet saw an unusual sight: a baby all alone in a high chair in the corner, wrapped in a pale green afghan blanket. As Violet crossed the room toward him, he reached toward her with tiny fingers the color of seashells.

“Where is your mother?” Violet asked the baby. Her words were formed within a gasp. The baby just looked up at her with sweet blue eyes. He didn’t have an answer. Violet put her index finger in his little outstretched fist and he clasped it and shook it a bit. As the baby boy shook Violet’s finger his blanket fell down from his shoulders. This uncovered a note attached to his tiny shirt with a diaper pin. Violet handled the note and the pin carefully, her slender fingers holding just the edges of the scalloped paper as she read.

Violet’s eyes looked sad for the first time maybe since her Pa died. The baby–Charlie began to cry and she scooped him from his seat. Though she wasn’t a mother, Violet instinctively snuggled him close to her shoulder and patted his back with her right hand, swaying back and forth in place the way mothers do.

“It’s okay, little one,” Violet whispered and kissed the baby’s sweet smelling hair. “I’ll take care of you.”

Charlie’s mother watched through the big front window of the truck stop cafe as the waitress held her little son, rocking him from side to side.  She had driven two hours from the next town that night to give him up. Violet had the face of an angel and Charlie’s mother knew the moment she saw her that she would be the one to pick him up and that she would be good to him.

The only comfort she felt as she walked away into the tear-streaked, blurry-eyed night was a tiny voice in the back of her mind that insisted this was the right thing to do. Violet would give little Charlie things she never could. She would sing to him, read bedtime stories, and bandage scraped knees. Violet would raise him to be gentle, kind, and honest. She would always smile that lovely smile when she looked at him, the way mothers do.

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One Response to “No. 3 – the way mothers do”

  1. Ashley Noelle January 5, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    Thanks!

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