Short Story: A Glass of Water
The waitress looked bored as she asked Violet for her order.
“I need a glass of water.”
The request surprised her. Not the waitress. She’d been listening to rude customers asking for things all day. Well, for years, really. Not a please or thank you in sight.
It was Violet herself who was startled.
Where did that come from? She thought. I fancied egg and chips. And a banana milkshake!
She was still wondering what had possessed her (and whether she had any paracetamols in her handbag – at least then it might look vaguely reasonable to have demanded such a tedious drink, and in such an abrupt manner) when the waitress returned.
“And egg and chips, please.” said Violet, as if she was continuing an incomplete order, interrupted by the waitress leaving a moment ago. “And a banana milkshake.”
“You can’t have those,” sneered the waitress. “You need water, remember?”
Violet stuttered. “I … I don’t understand ….”
The waitress sighed, and a look which might have been pity but was probably sarcasm, crossed her tired face.
“You’re new to this, aren’t you? It takes a while to get used to it but eventually you learn to just go with the flow. What Burton wants, Burton gets!”
“Burton… ?” Violet’s voice trailed off, quivering slightly.
“Burton Dark. The author.”
What? Who? I’ve never heard of him!
Her confusion was obvious enough for the waitress to begin again. Slowly this time, as if explaining something to a child.
“Burton Dark is our author. He writes the books we appear in.” And then, in a more conspiratorial manner, she continued. “To be honest, he isn’t very good. But the readers seem to like him. That’s why you can’t have egg and chips.”
Violet was spiralling into a deep well of confusion.
“When he was just starting out, he read somewhere that it was always important for a character to need something immediately. That way you draw the readers in straight away you see? And you need water, okay?”
Suddenly, inexplicably, she realised how much she did indeed need that water.
And so began a new chapter in the story of Violet’s life.
Frank Barry works in a care home for the elderly. His hobbies include volunteering on archaeological sites and playing rugby.