She must be having a bad hair day
the way our waitress passes
daggers with each glass. My grown
daughter got my wife’s mojito.
My wife got the Pepsi Light. 
The waitress’s eyes ignite
when I point out the flat
uncarbonated surface of my
Fat Tire beer. She bristles
but fixes it.
Her smile is almost authentic
by the time our entrees are displayed:
salmon laced in wasabi cream sauce, 
crusted tile fish nestled in mango chutney.
There must have been a spice
for rage mixed with hot wasabi.
Out of no where, the woman who
was once my little girl drops words
so hard they nearly break my plate.
I feel a thousand dishes slip:
those warm plates of French toast 
and pancakes, sausages and grits
go up in smoke as though
they’d never happened.
I want to toss the mango chutney,
and show the true flavor of my tongue, but
like the waitress, I know that by tomorrow 
those plates will be cleaned and stored, 
and that a smile, no matter how contrived, 
will be the only way to make it through today.

Bob Putnam is a writer and carpenter living near Charlottesville, Va. where he is a member of the WriterHouse writing community. His recent work has appeared in Bare HandsEmerge, SALT, and Epiphany Magazine.
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