Even after everything the last few days had held, we had to start another week at the Diner. I have mentioned this before; nothing could change that. A lot of people, maybe half the town might drift through the doors of Ed and Edna’s Diner today (monday), along with a bunch of travellers, and maybe (grrr) salesmorons, and my Bill (Shysage) and I would need to… I just sighed. We would enjoy serving everyone today; coffee, fries, a burger, a whole meal, just a soda, water and cool air, or whatever. But we had to get up out of bed and make that happen. It really helped that our family, we were all together now, and we all jumped in and served together there at the Diner. It wasn’t bad, it wouldn’t be hard at all. It would probably be fun! Shysage and I just had to… pull ourselves away from each other, get clothes on, gather our precious daughter and head into the Diner and get everything going, get everything comfortable.
And, looking back, I realized that monday morning as Shysage and I hugged in bed… As Maude, I just found Bill’s (Shysage’s) people body so amazing, so new. Even in the midst of the tempest that Irene’s presence caused in me, I took time to so enjoy the soft moonlight on my man, mostly watching in wonder, and then crying when it was over. Now, as Summer, remembering our amazing past, I still felt exactly the same way, maybe more. Shysage and I had been married numerous times, and maybe for almost 10 years, but we rarely spent much time in this world. Discovering Shysage’s body, his manliness… here… Maude, Summer, I so treasured all of that. I was pretty sure Shysage felt the same way about my lady body though. That made me smile, and not want to ever get out of bed. Like I said, getting up, getting dressed was just hard that morning, most mornings (I giggled!).
I think our real reason for getting up, getting dressed might have been our Ariel. Oh my goodness, our daughter needed us! We started that monday together on our swing. We tried to avoid crying too much, we tried to look forward as Ariel had said. That part was hard. But I think we also sighed a lot, being together again. I think looking forward was the right thing… We were soon walking carefully, slowly to the Diner together. Shysage and I hugged right away, and Ariel joined our hug. Hugging tightly like that we had to walk slow, and in step. It was nice. And Shysage had plenty of time to keep his eyes out for snakes up ahead.
We greeted the cook together, then want around front. Shysage, er Bill opened everything up, and carefully placed a few fans to cool the inside of the Diner down some. And about when Bill closed everything up and turned the AC on, I realized that, when I did all that solo, that “cooled down some” was as cool as it ever got, and it usually heated up from there. My Bill had changed so much for me, for our customers… But I couldn’t reminisce for long. Bill and I hugged briefly in front of the low singles table (Ariel quickly joined us). That was all the rest we got until early afternoon when things slowed down. Lunch rush is unavoidable on mondays…
It was only after the lunch rush that I had a chance… Well, maybe it just hit me then… A visiting couble had just paid, then headed out the door. I stopped, and just looked slowly around the dining room, many tables still busy with a lot of people. Everything suddenly looked so… well, I think surreal is the word… As Maude, everything looked like it usually did, like the busy diner this is. But, as Summer, well a week ago, Shysage and I were trying to survive increasingly cooler weather, living outside… with nopony to help… us… And then the terror that was PonyRos… For a minute or two, for me, everything just stopped. I felt so torn between two completely different worlds, wondering which one… I ended up staring out across the dining room almost in disbelief… How did I get… here… My man fixed all that. He walked up behind me, ran his hands across my belly, pulled me close and kissed my neck. Ok, that made sense. My Shysage was here with me, so everything… I was ok. I would be ok. My man would take care of me. Still, that ten minutes or so was just very wierd. It felt very unsettling. Shysage reminded me later that it would probably be a long time before we chanced a trip back to my world. It really would be very dangerous. We would wait, probably a long time he said, although neither of us were sure how long to wait, how to even guess…
And a few salesmorons also came in that afternoon. One of them… After he got his soda, I walked over to take his order. “Hey, Maude, are you doing anything tonight? Maybe we could liven things up for you.” And, just as I remembered, he said all this as he sipped his soda and worked at his tablet thing. He didn’t even look up at me or anything. He was ignoring me, ignoring Maude. I realized right then… These Piranha… It wasn’t Maude that they wanted, not at all. They just wanted to borrow Maude’s body so they could take what nobody could ever give back, and maybe leave… something… Then I noticed the wedding ring on this man’s left hand…
Shaking my head back and forth just a little… “Sir, aren’t you married?” I even sounded like this made no sense to me.
He answered right away, and without even looking up. “Well, yeah, but my wife–” He stopped himself abruptly right there, and only then looked quickly up at me. Shouting just a little “Just forget it, Maude… Now you even sound like…” He got quickly up and left.
Next thing I felt… Bill’s arms around me from behind, hugging me close. “Good riddance… Honey, we do not need their money.”
Almost humming, I said quietly “Mmmm Hmm” which meant I was agreeing with him.
Ariel must have seen us hugging, and she ran over and joined us. Trying to not cry, she said quietly “Mommy, daddy, I love you both so much…” We all cried quietly for a few minutes, then we got back to work.
Delores came in that afternoon when it was slow, and did her usual, and ordered her usual. Kacey and Tina were with her this time, and I didn’t wait for Delores to ask. We were slow, so I brought Ariel, and we sat down with Delores and her kids. It was quiet briefly, then Delores… Well she was working hard at not crying. “Maude… Summer… I had a billion questions I wanted to ask you… But really… Oh, my goodness, you are just so precious…” We all stood up, and us 5 girls hugged in a group for a few minutes.
They didn’t stay long, and from there, they needed to meet Victor at the Mall for a family walk. Still, Kacey hugged me and said quietly “I’m waiting… Well, really, I can’t wait. Hurry up and get everything written!” She smiled, and we hugged again. Then they filed out into the heat and were gone.
I was just a little overwhelmed, and sat back down in Delores’ booth. In such a short time, so much really had changed for me, for us. Ariel sat right next to me and hugged me. Maybe she realized… “Seems like a bad dream… waking up…”
I looked at Ariel, our precious treasure. “We have you back… again… I think we will be ok.”
Bill, er Shysage came and cleaned up the dishes in front of us, then brought us some chocolate chip cookies on a nice clean plate. Then he joined us at that booth, and we relaxed together there a bit.
In the middle of this, the cook came out, wiping greasy hands on his white thing and everything. Sounding just a little frustrated… “Will someone please tell me what is going on? Maude, Edna brought you in with her last summer. She passed away, then Bill came… Now you have a grown up daughter… Maude, I just don’t have a clue…”
Bill, er Shysage jumped in right away. “Sam, I have lived here all my life, and I have never tasted burgers as good as you can cook. Even the fries…” Shysage paused in thought, then continued, a little more quietly. “Maude is not from here however, and neither is Ariel. But this is our family. Something horrible happened to the three of us a little over a year ago. It is truly a miracle that we all found each other… here… But we are finally back together again. For a lot of reasons, we expect to be here for the fore-seeable future, enjoying your amazing cooking.”
I realized as I wrote this that I had never mentioned our cook’s name. Still, I stood up, and hugged him briefly. “I apologize, I know this is a lot to take in. And there are details about our family that need to be kept confidential. But I so appreciated your help when I needed it the most… and your amazing burgers too!”
We all laughed when I was done saying that, even Sam the cook. “Well, I appreciate that, but maybe some day we can sit down, and I can hear the longer version, I don’t know. You all seem really nice, so I’m not worried. And with the AC and Vent Hood fan working, I can cook forever…” Shysage got up and hugged him, then Sam our amazing cook got back to work. He really was, is an important part of the Diner!
Our food delivery came just minutes later, and Bill headed back into the kitchen as soon as he saw the truck drive in front of the Diner and turn at the corner, to head around back, and back in as usual. Ariel got this smile on her face and quickly followed her dad, probably so she could help him. I felt no reason to move. But I had to get up a few minutes later because customers came in, and found an empty table. I got slowly up, grabbed my favorite pen and the small tablet (paper, not those electronic thingies), and headed over to take their order. It was simple, they had stopped here before, and enjoyed our food last time. I gave the order to the cook, then stood there and watched through the order up shelf into the kitchen, for glimpses of Bill and Ariel as they unloaded the delivery truck together.
For some reason I turned around abruptly. I was immediately face to face with that same delivery truck driver who always refused to help me, and even called me a zombie once. He was way too close; I raised my hand right away; I really wanted so bad to smack him. After all he had… And I was married now, seriously… And… I was Summer… He wisely backed away when I got ready to… And I didn’t even wait for him to come up with something funny to say. I spoke my mind. “Why don’t you try treating us as precious ladies, instead of some temporary fix for your biological urges…” Yes I did sound irritated as I said that, and I said that last phrase with some disdain. I did think there may have been a better way to say it. But this is what I said, and it communicated; I meant every word. And I wasn’t thinking so much about myself. Maude, Bill’s woman, really Summer, Shysage’s Mare… I was already so deeply taken, and cherished far beyond… It was… I was really crying out for the other women he would be tempted to use, and may have already… I had no way of knowing if my words made any difference. He turned and walked quickly through the kitchen after I said that. And, I was soon thinking… “biological urges…” I gave, I give to my Shysage… intimacy, intimacy wrapped in the deepest, ever deepening devotion… And he lovingly gives back the same way… What is wrong with this place that the only thing men seem to want is “some temporary fix”… Like other questions I have asked, I doubted I would get an answer to this one either.
I did mention recording last monday that we never saw this driver again. I forgot about this monday, so added it in. I have no idea why, but after this particular monday, they gave this moron’s route to Victor, and Delores waited around for her man every monday afternoon. When he came in, they relaxed together in a booth for a bit. Sometimes Kacey and or Tina came, and Ariel would snag them and they would sit at a booth in the Annex and just talk over sodas, just hang out.
And for the record, I tried hard to avoid crying that day. I usually cried just a little when my man hugged me, or when our Ariel did. But overall, I think I did pretty good. But, a little while before when the dinner rush usually started, Bill brought out that beautiful picture Camille had drawn for me. She used a blue pen and drew on lined paper even, but that picture was still amazing. It was a small horse standing on her back legs with her wings stretched out. Camille had drawn that picture for me and I had no clue at the time. But now I knew it was her picture of me; she even put “Summer” underneath it. Holding that amazing picture, Shysage / Bill was asking if we could put it back under the glass next to the cash register. But I didn’t just remember that picture, I remembered Camille and Dawn coming to the Diner(2). Then, I remembered the day I posed like that for Camille’s Twin as she made the most beautiful plaster statue of me(3). Well the statue was supposed to be Lu, well Princess Luna(1), but Lu and I are the same size. Still, I know of no way Camille and her Twin could both have known what the other did; Camille and her Twin had not even met, did not even know about each other as far as I knew. Still, seeing that picture… now… I cried for a while.
I managed to calm down for dinner rush. And it was just so fun! Without even talking, Ariel took over those things that Bill (Shysage) did in the dining room. When he wasn’t hugging me against the low singles table, Shysage stayed in the kitchen washing dishes almost constantly. Well, maybe they talked; I never found out. But Ariel and I, working together… I had to wipe away tears a lot… Ariel seemed to always just appear next to me when I needed to deliver food. And Ariel took amazing care of clearing tables, getting dishes back to her dad in the Kitchen, and efficiently getting everything cleaned up, set up for the next folks. Yes… girls like that are hard to find any more, I think. Ariel and I stopped and hugged a lot I think. How did I survive without my daughter? And when it started to calm down, I let Ariel take a few orders (she asked!). I stood next to her and smiled like the proud mom I am. Ariel didn’t really need my help; our menu is just not that complicated. And Ariel is really smart! And when the diningroom began to empty out, Ariel knew which tables she had already cleaned, so she quickly had the dining room ready for mopping, and got that carefully done. Then Ariel did the ladies room while Shysage did the men’s room. I did my few end of day chores while they did that, and we were soon walking home.
When we were locking ourselves out of the Diner, the sun was setting, and it was starting to get dark. I noticed that the lights at the motel across the street were out, or something. For a minute I panicked. Maybe less than a minute. I was quickly clinging to Shysage, and I guess he must have sensed. He sighed, slowly and calmly. “I will take care of you, Summer.”
Trying to relax on Shysage’s shoulder, I said quietly, sounding so afraid… “A salesmoron back-hand slapped me across the back parking lot last time those big lights at the motel were out…” And I know I shivered in fear even saying that.
“They will have to hit me first.” Shysage said quietly.
“Or me” our Ariel added with clear defiance.
The big lights at the motel blinked on seconds later. Maybe they are on a timer or something. Still, with Shysage on one side of me, and Ariel on the other, I calmed down as we made our way home. It was hot inside, so Shysage opened windows and set up fans in our room while Ariel did the same for her guest room. I followed Shysage. I didn’t feel like being alone just yet. A few minutes later, we were relaxing on our swing, and I finished calming down as my family hugged me. Well, writing that made me cry.
Since as long as I can remember, well as Maude, the Sheriff and Delores have been the only people who have braved our long driveway to come see us. We had no other visitors, ever. Shysage, Ariel and I, we were swinging quietly together on the swing that night. We all still had our work clothes on, but it was starting to cool off. Shysage kept us swinging, and we were all just enjoying together. Just before the sun went down, two cars pulled quickly down our driveway, and pulled to a stop next to our little wagon. Well, Shysage choked up right away. The first car was Shysage’s first Mustang(long story, 4). After pulling it to a stop and turning it off, a precious friend jumped out right away. We jumped up too, ran down, were all quickly hugging, crying… She had tried to reach out to me. Kacey had said her name was Pinky, and yes, her hair was amazingly curly and very pink. Of course, I didn’t remember her then… “Summer, I knew it was you…” She said that a few times as we hugged and cried. Such a precious friend. Laughing and crying… “Shysage, I fixed the carburator… and the rear brakes… and the sector box… and the ignition coil fuse link… and the registration!” Shysage was still wiping away tears, too. We cried together hugging for a while.
Shysage said this a few times, too… “Oh, my goodness… You are amazing…” Like I said, such a precious friend.
She couldn’t stay long. (The other car was one of her sisters to take her back home.) She pulled away, wiped some tears, then said “It is sooo good to see you all!” She waited briefly, then sighed and said “Well, I gotta’ get back… Work tomorrow…” We hugged a little more. Right before she turned to leave, she put both arms on my shoulders. Then she said quietly “Summer… Your sister knows you are alive…”
I cried for hours…
1. c/tm Hasbro inc.
2. CSR Maude: Beginnings, Chapter 19, Month of Sundays
3. The Chronicles of Summer Rain, Vol. 12 Sweep of Time, Chapter 15, Snow Pony, on FIMFiction
4. The Chronicles of Summer Rain, Vol. 7 monsters in the Grass, Chapter 10, Helping Out, on FIMFiction
5. CSR Maude: Revelations is copyright 2017 by Shysage. And “CSR Maude” is vol. 15 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain