I thought the original of this scene was really good, I remembered it as really good, and then I looked at it and was disappointed that my memory had lied. But I do like this scene as a whole, even if it’s not great even after the rewrite. Enjoy. :)
“You have an admirer.” Hazel nodded toward a young man in the corner booth.
Ellie laughed, causing the piles of dishes she held to clank. “Alex Kane? You’ve got to be joking.”
“I’m not. He’s been throwing you glances ever since he came in.” Hazel scrubbed the counter.
Ellie shook her head and set the dishes in the sink. “He’s dating Lucy Bougardner.”
“They broke up last week. You know that; you were there.”
“Right. Poor girl. Why do people feel the need to break up in public?”
The conversation paused as Ellie collected more dishes. When she got back behind the counter she passed them to a passing SRV-Droid. “Thanks, Sera.”
“Of course.” The android hovered into the kitchen, engine humming.
“He’s looking at you again.”
Ellie sighed and she glanced at him. Sure enough, he was looking her way. She smiled and she looked away, blushing.
“I knew you liked him!”
“Shh! He’ll hear you.” She risked another glance at him. A SRV-Droid was taking his order. “What girl in the district doesn’t?” Ellie muttered.
Hazel laughed, setting her rag down. “I bet he’ll ask you to the dance tonight.”
“He will not! He’s already asked someone.” Ellie watched as one SRV-Droid passed an order to another.
“Who asked you?”
“No one.” Ellie was muttering again.
“Liar. Every guy in the school would love to be your date. So come on, who asked you?”
“I take it you declined.”
“And Peter, and Mike, and Sebastian, and Vince.” Ellie moved toward the register as she saw customers approaching to pay.
“Ha! Who did you decide to go with?” Hazel followed.
“None of them. I turned them all down.”
Hazel’s jaw dropped. “All of them? You turned down all of them?”
Ellie rang up the first customer’s meal. “Yes I did. That’ll be thirty-five seventy-one, please.”
The customer scanned the wrist in her chip on the front of the register, looking at Hazel. “I’m sorry, do you work here?”
Hazel barely spared the customer a glance. “No, I’m her best friend. Ell, you’ve got to go with someone!”
A light on the scanner blinked ‘approved.’
“Thank you,” Ellie said. “Come again.” As the customer left, Ellie turned toward Hazel. “I do not have to go with someone. I can go all by myself if I want to.”
The next customer came up.
“But if so many guys want to go with you, why not accept one of them?”
“Because the right one hasn’t asked yet.” Ellie rang up the order. “Seventy-five oh one.”
Another chip scan.
“You don’t mean Alex,” Hazel said.
“Thank you, come again.” Ellie smiled briefly as the customer left. “No, I mean the right one. I don’t know who that is yet.”
The next customer.
“I bet it’s Alex.”
“It’s not. Twenty-eight fifty-five.”
“How do you know?” Hazel brushed a stray hair behind her ear.
“Thank you, have a nice day.” Ellie sighed. “I just do. It’s not something I can describe. Has anyone asked you yet?” She rang up the next order. “Fifteen ninety-nine.”
“Yeah, Zander asked me. Then Vince. I’m going with Vince, obviously.”
“Thank you, have a nice day.” Ellie shrugged. “He’s a nice guy.”
“Yeah.” Hazel’s voice said she wasn’t excited about her date. “Do you have a dress picked?”
“The blue one. Ten fifty.”
“Are you girls talking about the dance?”
Ellie looked up to see Alex. “Oh hi.” She smiled. “We were, actually. How are you?”
“I’m doing all right.” He scanned his chip. “How are you?”
“Busy, as always. Other than that, not too bad.”
“That’s good.” He glanced at the line behind him, then back at her, flashing a broad smile. “Well, have a good day. I’ll see you at the dance.”
As soon as he was out the door Hazel grinned at Ellie. “You were red as my mom’s tomatoes!”
“You so like him.”
“Seriously, hush.” Ellie rang up the next customer. “Eighty seventeen.” Her brow furrowed slightly at how high the number was and glanced briefly at the customer as he swiped his chip. He was an elderly man in a ratty sock cap and tattered coat. His chip rang denied. He looked up at her with wide eyes, trembling.
“Your breakfast is on the house,” Ellie said, without thinking.
His eyes widened even further and his jaw dropped. “Th-thank you, miss! You have no idea how grateful I am! Thank you!” He grinned and headed out, a to-go box under his arm.
“You just cost yourself eighty dollars,” Hazel said. “Ellie, you don’t have eighty dollars to spare.”
Ellie shushed her and rang up the next customer.
“You barely have enough to-”
Ellie wheeled toward Hazel, jaw set. “We can talk about this later.” She turned back to the register, smiled at the customer, and continued with her job.
Two customers later she looked up, realizing there was no one else. The whole diner was empty.
“Where did everyone go?” Hazel asked, coming out from the kitchen. “You’re never completely empty like this.”
“I don’t know.” Both of them came out from behind the counter and glanced out the glass doors. The streets were busy as always. “This doesn’t make sense. Sphene!” The SC-Droid didn’t appear.
Ellie walked into the kitchen to see that all the droids were disabled. She pressed the power button on one of them. Nothing. The SRV-Droid stayed dark.
“Computer,” Ellie said, “pull up the newsfeed. Seventeenth district, Lorsa.”
A video appeared on the screen over the counter. It was Kristina Humphreys, the district news reporter, standing in city square.
“…Been informed that Lower Downtown has gone dark. The electricians in the area are checking for the problem. In the meantime, all androids, machinery, and most datascreens will be offline…”
“Computer, turn off newsfeed.”
The image blinked off.
“Why is the computer system working, then?” Hazel asked.
“My dad connected it to its own generator rather than the main power grid.”
“Let’s go see what’s running at the apartment.” Ellie grabbed her navy blue coat from a kitchen coatrack.
“The power outage doesn’t explain why all your customers just vanished.”
“They probably saw the building displays go dark and went to see what happened.” She slipped on her coat and headed for the door, Hazel following with her olive green hoodie.
The advertisements that usually lit up the skyscrapers were dark across the street and down toward the north, but next door and to the south everything was lit up like the fourth of July, thanks to the border between the Upper and Lower Downtown power grids.
Ellie headed down the sidewalk northward, holding her coat closed tight against a heavy autumn breeze.