They met at the restaurant, and plus it was raining. She didn’t look the way he’d remembered, but not too different, he supposed, and plus she was his estranged daughter.
“This rain,” she said, but her father didn’t say anything. Instead he moved uncomfortably to the back of the booth and squinted at the menu. The restaurant was Mexican, and plus she had called him.
She watched her father holding his menu upside down. A mistake, she thought, to meet at this restaurant. Should have met someplace else, someplace she knew, and plus she’d run away from home at seventeen.
He didn’t like these new menus, always so confusing, with too many choices, too many strange ingredients, too many unfamiliar words. He’d forgotten his reading glasses again, and plus his wife had recently died.
His daughter told him about her life. How she’d gotten things back on track after her last divorce. How she was putting things in order now. She had some regrets, she said, but who didn’t? She offered a hopeful smile, and plus she needed to ask him for money.
Her father shook his head. “These crazy words,” he said. But he kept reading the upside-down menu. She was telling him about her new job until the waiter materialized and asked if they’d like to hear about the specials. The father heard about the specials, and plus she was probably going to ask him for money.
A few minutes later their food arrived, sizzling, steaming.
“Very hot,” the waiter said.
“Careful,” the daughter said.
But the father grabbed the plate anyway, and plus his wife had told him not to give the daughter money again. “She’ll never change,” she’d said. The plate burned the father’s fingers, and plus tears.
Anthony Varallo’s collection of short-short fiction, Everyone Was There, will be published by Queen’s Ferry Press in 2016. He is the author of three previous short story collections: This Day in History, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award; Out Loud, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize; and Think of Me and I’ll Know (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books). Currently he is an associate professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he is the fiction editor of Crazyhorse.