The Diner Hour
Once upon a time in Pensacola,
Ella May Cinders—
a waitress of generous proportions—
lived with her evil stepbrothers,
Randy the Handyman,
who was anything but handy,
and Andy Jack-a-Dandy,
who disdained her fashion nonsense.
Jeb, her evil stepfather,
who liked to hedge funds,
had expected her to take over
his late wife’s wifely duties—
save those in the bedroom.
Eking out a hardscrabble existence
amongst the one-percenters that frequented
The Shiny Diner—
known as Scenic 90 Café—
she never lost hope that a single tip
would change her life,
as it was against the law in this parallel universe
for a woman to leave her father
without a husband—
to be “uncleaved”.
Ella Mae’s auto was a Caddy from the last Millennium,
having not seen an oil change in 5000 miles,
the white paint chipping away like eczema.
Her black uniform was soft and thin
from so many washings,
and her shoes had holes in the soles and toes.
She was a mess.
Every day, when she went in to work,
there was Ashton Prince at Table 25,
who was looking for a wife.
Thirty to her twenty,
and a Mormon at that,
he was gloriously unmarked—
piercings and tattoos had he none.
But alas, this prince saw her only
as a server willing to chitchat,
for she was known as “The Comely Backwater Kid”.
Though her hands were clean,
her hair needed a cut,
for the ends split every which way.
Pale and wan,
she was often tired
from cleaning up after her father and brothers.
She never thought of her mother,
who’d only married the miser for his money,
thinking it would benefit her daughter.
She laughed miserably at the irony
that she was poorer than she had been
when her 99-percenter father had been alive.
So there was Ashton,
ordering his usual—
the Steak Diane—
with Rosy, the waitress,
a riveting one, at that,
with her Italian charm and French perfume,
talking him into some dessert.
Ella still had twenty minutes till her shift,
and so she went to the picnic table out back,
where no one was smoking for a change.
She started to cry,
pulling an old napkin—
smelling of brown gravy—
from her apron.
a man she had never seen,
wearing the uniform of the diner,
came up to her,
sooty as a coal miner.
“Hello,” she said, sniffling,
and he smiled and said,
“I’m Harry, and I’m here for you.”
Ella looked around,
but he told her not to fear,
for her fairy godfather was here.
“I’m here to make your prince see you
as you really are—the Daughter of a King.”
Since it was Halloween night,
he dressed her up as the Duchess of Cambridge;
her Caddy was now a mint-green Minnie Cooper,
her shoes making her feel ten feet tall.
“T’will be when the diner closes at nine,
the spell will be broken,
and you will be as you were,
so you’ve but four hours to make this man
fall in love with you, Ella unseen.”
He sprinkled some dust,
ground from the seeds of forget-me-nots,
so that none would recognize her.
She walked through the front door—
no longer “the help”—
breezing by the hostess.
She went to the booth where her prince
was soothing his sweet tooth,
and asked, “Is this seat taken?”
So taken with her he was,
over the course of an hour,
and three courses in,
that he pulled his mother’s engagement ring
from his pocket.
“Whosoever this ring fits,
that will be the girl for you,” she’d said.
He let her try it on,
and it fit like a Trump in a tower.
Suddenly, it was closing time,
and she said, “I have to go”,
but the spell broke before she could get away,
and he saw her as she had been,
and as she was now.
“Forgive me, Ella, for being such a dolt,
for you had my heart at ‘Sweet or Unsweet?’”
He took her away from her evil brood,
and they were married in the temple the next day
She got to know her Heavenly Father,
and knew through Him,
she would be reunited with her earthly father,
and would be sealed for time and all eternity
to her prince in a shining Mercedes.
As for Randy, Andy, and Jeb,
they eventually each ran for mayor,
using the Princess of Pensacola,
Mrs. Ella Prince,
as their claim to the seat.
At long last, Ella was happy—
happy to not endorse any of them.