It was just an ordinary Diner in downtown L.A

She was a single, stressed out, workaholic. He was ...well, he  just was.


Everyday the same

breakfast at ‘Sam’s Diner’

plain bagel


no topping


I sit watching the traffic

from my usual stool

elbows on the counter

pondering the day


then a voice in my ear

‘not having anything more on that?’

I glance round

deep blue eyes

black wavy hair

wide grin


a piece of bagel lodges in my throat

I shake my head

pretending annoyance



he rubs his chin with his finger

dislodging a rogue crumb from his mouth

he's frowning

‘y’know you really need to dress that up a bit

a piece of ham and some-’

‘no thankyou’

he looks away, eyebrows raised

he sighs

‘if I were you-‘

‘you’re not’

he swallows

‘I was only suggesting…

maybe it would taste less-’

‘Less what?’

‘Well boring was what I was going to say-’




thank God a pause

I need to finish my bagel and go

work calls

‘you come here a lot?’

pause broken-damn!

I wipe my mouth

slide off the stool

‘Breakfast is good here-most days-

well it’s been a pleasure

work calls-‘


was that defeat in those blue eyes?

‘Catch you tomorrow maybe-’

ah-not defeat

the last piece of bagel sticks in my throat…


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved


Breakfst at Sam's

Breakfast at 'Sams'

just the same

well nearly...

that voice in my ear - again

'See you took my advice'.

I resist turning my head

glancing down at my bagel

egg oozing from the edges

egg should slide down easily

it doesn't...

He eyes my half-filled mug

'Top up?'

I am still trying to swallow

he takes it as a yes

nods smiling at the waitress

'Two more coffees Molly'.

Glances through the misted window

'Nice day-'

Why won't this egg shift?

Why doesn't HE shift?

Why can't I shift?

He sips fresh coffee eyeing mine

'Better not let it get cold'.

I stare down into the mug and swallow

bliss-egg dislodged

where are words when you need them?

A thankyou is needed

I fumble for my purse


His hand rests on my hand


'My treat.'

Alarm bells.

Two more gulps

I'm gone

I glance back from the street corner

a misted silhouette is watching

then moves away.


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved

Sam's 'Oven'

Sam's place was like an oven

my blouse stuck to my back

a thin line of moisture hung above my lip


I sipped my ice tea and kicked off my heels

it was quiet, too quiet, and the air was still

so still, I thought I had died

then that voice

too close


'boy is it one hot day!'


Too hot to turn around

but I knew who it was




I grabbed the Daily News and fanned my face

was I hot outside or inside?


'Damn fan busted again Sam-'


(Ignore him he might go away

he doesn't)



wanna refill?'


I released the straw from between my lips

trying to act surprised and cool



'Why not?'

Did I say that?

He slid round the bar and poured another two

slinking back round

settling slowly, painfully, onto a stool

next to me


'Mercy it's hot-even the flies are sun-bathing-

this'll cool you down.'


It didn't.


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved

Sam's Autumn

Windy outside

still inside


smell of rich perked coffee



a sudden draft

leaves blow in


'Boy, that is windy'


I smile inwardly

not daring to glance round


I smell him before he sits next to me

sandlewood and spice

his jeaned leg brushes against mine


I tremble inwardly

not daring to look up




'Good morning'

I hear myself answer.


'Two coffee's Molly'

'Well I wasn't going to-

but as you're buying-'


I find myself looking up into two blue pools

a wide smile

perfect teeth


'How's work?'

he asks, eyeing up the cookies

'Work is fine thanks'

I hear myself reply.


The fresh aroma of coffee

ignites my senses

'What about you?'


'Work. You do have a job don't you?'


Still too busy eyeing up the cookies

he takes two chocolate


'Two cookies Molly-

what was it you just said?'

'Nevermind-gotta dash'

'Sorta between jobs right now'



I start buttoning up my coat

he offers me a cookie


'Might need this later'

I go to take it but think twice


'Go on, live a little,

I won't tell if you won't'

I smile

He smiles back

'Thank you'

'My pleasure'


I don't hear his goodbye

the wind masks it

more leaves blow in.


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved

Chilling at Sam's


hard frost


I slip and slide into Sam's

new boots were not a good idea


my head is on fire 

beneath my woolen hat

my neck sweats

beneath my knitted scarf


I unbutton my long coat

folding it neatly on the stool

next to mine


voices in the kitchen


'Come on Sam

two hours'


'Jo-will you open your ears

and listen?'


'Look-what's two hours, huh?'


'Jo, I've already told you,

I can't afford it

Now I've hungry people to feed'





'Don't look at me like that,

I'm not the enemy

the taxman is'


'I'll make it up to you Sam,

I promise

just two little hours?'


'I must have the word 'mug' written on my forehead'

'Thanks Sam'

'Put me down! Now who is this person

you want to impress?'


'Oh-a broad, might have known'

'Ssh Sam...not too loud'




I recognised the younger voice

it's him


now I know his name


He saunters out of the kitchen

on spotting me



that smile appears





His face freezes

he knows I heard


I sip my coffee

pretending to read the paper

uncomfortable silence

he moves slowly

round the counter

I can smell him

suddenly the paper is boring


'What's it short for?'


'Jo. What is it short for?'




I drain my cup


I start to retrieve my coat and scarf


He moves toward me

then eyes my boots


'Expensive boots'


'Go careful out there, black ice'

'I know'

He beats me to the door

'Go careful, y'hear?'

I nod, trying not to laugh

'I will ... Joseph'.




© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved




Snow at Sam's

A white blanket surrounds us

Christmas music punctuates the quiet

my coffee tastes good


he's up a ladder

throwing garlands over cross beams

his teeth grip onto a balloon

the balloon falls to the floor

a silent gentle bounce


I try not to laugh




I still try not to laugh 

carry on sipping my coffee




No response





a voice yells from the kitchen


'I need you a minute'

'I'm busy Joseph'


I hear a long drawn out sigh

I can no longer ignore it


'Having trouble up there?'

'Nah...s'okay...I got it'


I give a shrug and try not to eye 

the long legs

tightly clad in blue denim


more snow starts to fall

I suddenly don't want to leave

but I must


as I make it to the door 

he decends the ladder

his eyes look down into mine


'Thanks for the offer'

'No problem'

I turn the handle

'Hey, I don't know your name'

'I know'


I make it out into the cold whiteness

the face stares at me

through misted glass


I'm gone


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved


Late night shopping

tired feet

I do something 

I've never done


head to Sams

one for the road


in the far corner a tree

undressed and ready


laughing from the kitchen

he appears

carrying a large box

overflowing with tinsel


close behind

a small

dark haired female

she is pretty

she thumps him

on the back


he drops the box 

grabs her

tickles her

they laugh together


I suddenly feel 



who is this girl

who makes him laugh?


too busy to notice me

too busy laughing


I decide to leave

three's a crowd


he glances up

but I'm through the door

out into the cold night


I don't see his face

his smile relaxing

the young girl

tugging his arm


'What's up?'


'Come on then'


'The tree needs tinsel'




© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved







Avoided Sams 

all last week


cross with myself



I take a deep breath outside the door

it opens for me

it's him


''Mornin stranger'


I say nothing

feeling more irked

he wears  his smile



'Can I get you anything?'


I make him wait as I unbutton my coat

he goes to take it

I hold onto it and sit down

at the counter


he saunters round to the other side



my 'matter of fact voice' 

cutting the air


he places my coffee in front of me

along with a large cookie


I push the cookie away

'no thanks'

he pushes it back

I return it

this goes on a few more times

resting his elbows on the counter

he tries a smile

'Y'know, it's only a cookie'

'a very large cookie'

'what harm is one cookie gonna do?'

'make me fat'

'no harm in that'


'you could do with putting on a few pounds'



he swallows uncomfortably

he sees my eyes narrowing

I'm feling more irked

'I had no idea you had been studying

my physical features so intently'


he sidles around to me

an appologetic look

clouding his face


'I shouldna said that,

way outa line'



he looks above my head

I follow his gaze



now I'm really irked




© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved                                             







Bad Timing


Voice from the kitchen

our eyes travel down

from the ceiling

they link

for a second



he doesn't move


he stays put 



'alright already!'

he slides off the stool 

walks slowly away

through into the kitchen


a door slams somewhere

muffled voices


I stir some milk into my coffee


for what?


after what seems like ages

Sam comes out

flustered and cross




I study him over my mug

'okay Sam?'

he flusters about and looks up

sweat encasing each brow

'yeah-I'm okay'


but I can tell he isn't


bad timing


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved

Revelations and Rheindeer Hats




Sam gave a tired sigh and poured me another coffee


'On the house'



I sipped the hot liquid

it tasted good

I had to ask-


'Everything alright Sam?'


he was wiping the counter down

it didn't need wiping


'When is it ever right? 

Throw me a date and time why don't you?'


laughter from the kitchen

a familiar voice

she appears

dark hair and treacle eyes

wearing a Christmas apron

rheindeer hat

it's her

the ticklish one


Sam smiles

waches as she carries on dressing the tree

'How's it goin' Rachel?'

'Nearly done-would have got done sooner

if my stupid brother

hadn't goofed around'




she drops the tinsel and walks over

eyes me beneath a thick

glossy black fringe


'I know you

you're the one

with the expensive boots'


I give a quizzical smile

she is sharp

I let her continue

but Sam butts in


'Rachel, where's your brother?'

'Don't ask me. Anywhere I guess'

'Well, when you see him, tell him he has

some overtime coming-

IF he can be bothered to turn up'


the rheindeer hat nods and goes back to the tree


whistling from the front door

it's him

'Got some more decs Sam'

'Haven't we got enough already?'

'Com'on - place still looks bare'

he delves down the bags with childish glee

'got some of those candy canes that light up,

and a big blow up Santa'

'Joseph. A word'


'In my office?'

'You haven't got an office Sam-'

'My kitchen then?'


he glances up from the bags 

I quickly glance away

not realising I have been staring at him

since he arrived.


Rachel has been watching me

she sidles up

(must run in the family)


'You fancy my brother?'


I feign astonishment



she keeps looking into my eyes


'Mmmm, don't know about you'


'Someone high class like you,

eyeing up my big brother'

'Excuse me?'


Sam and 'Santa' return

he is smiling

probably glad he got some overtime


he returns to delving in the bags

then looks up

I feel his eyes burning into my back


'wanna help?'

Sam grins and carries on

wiping down the counter.


I slide off the stool

buttoning my coat


Rachel watches

then smiles at her brother

'I'll help you-

she's too busy'


I stagger out into the cold


found out

by a rheindeer hat


© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved



Christmas Eve at Sams

Been avoiding Sams

like the plague


but Christmas Eve

has always been good



it's late



I slide into a booth with my coffee

smooth columbian

fills my mouth

warms me


lights are lower than usual

Bing Crosby croons

in the distance


I gaze into my half drained mug

suddenly aware of a prescence




he's standing by my table


my eyes travel upwards

towel drapped over his shoulder

pencil above his ear


his eyes hold mine 

then he smiles


'Wanna refill?'

'I-yes, please, thank you.'

words are sticking in my throat

like huge peach stones


he returns

but hovers

'Want anything with that?'

'No thanks...'


People start filtering in

bags of shopping

one with a small fir tree


he leaves for just a short time

only to return

this time he has a plate


with a cookie on it

iced Rheindeer face

on top


I shake my head

'No thanks...'

he looks crestfallen

'It's a Christmas special-

Cinnamon and apple-

freshly baked

try it'


I eye up the cookie

the smell is delicious

the face looks stupid

he pushes the plate to me

it nudges my hand

'Com'on-it's Christmas,

let your hair down'


he looks round and spots Molly

'Hey-Molly, takin' a break-okay?'

she nods

carries on serving

he flings down the towel

slides in oposite me

still eyeing the uneaten cookie

'You gonna eat that before it

runs away to find it's sleigh?'


I smile

he slaps the table

'She smiles, maybe I can raise a laugh

or two?'

'I shouldn't'

he glances furtively up and down the aisle

'I won't tell if you won't-honest'


he watches

as I pick up the aromatic disc

filled with raisins honey and cinnamon

I take a bite

it crumbles on my lips

disolves in my mouth

I have suddenly

gone to heaven


his smile is triumphant

'That was good huh?'

I nod

unable to speak

savouring every morsel


for one second I close my eyes

time enough for his hanky

to touch the side of my mouth

it makes me jump

'You had a little piece in the

corner...waste not want not.'



Molly's voice pierces the air


he points at the half eaten cookie

'I wanna see that gone

by the time I come back'


he joins Molly behind the counter

I pick up his hanky

it has the letter J embroidered

in the corner

I smell sandlewood


thirty minutes later

he is sitting back down

the cookie is still there

he frowns


'Hey, didn't I say to you about

eating your cookie?'

I pass over the hanky

he pushes my hand away

and for one moment

I feel strong fingers

enveloping mine


'Keep it, I got lots more,

probably get box loads for Christmas'


his eyes penetrate mine 

just for a second


'Finish the cookie, shame to waste

what's your name again?'

'I never told you'

he gives a sigh

'Let's make it even.

You know mine

only fair you tell me yours'


I sip my coffee

it's getting cold


'I'll get you a fresh one'

he's gone before I can say



© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved



11.55 pm

It's late


he is closing up

I start to move out


he's there


'one for the road?'

I glance at my watch

'it's late'

'tell you what, I'll get you another coffee

you tell me your name'

'I - '

he's gone


I'm still debating staying

when he returns


he withholds my mug


I frown back

oh, what the hell


he smiles that smile

and hands me my coffee

'that didn't hurt did it?'

my face colours


can't remember the last time I blushed

the candle is still lit

on the table

his fingers hold something



'midnight...a little after

unlucky for some'

I swallow

staring at the small sprig of leaves and white berries

he twists it between his fingers


'Merry Christmas Emma'


he leans toward me

blue eyes flashing in the candlelight

'time to pucker up Emma'

my heart is starting to thud

I can hear it

I can feel it

I lean in

I can feel his breath on my mouth


our lips just meeting




Sam breaks the spell

'Joseph, you locked up yet?'


the blue eyes close

'yeah-I've closed!'


suddenly I start to laugh

he laughs too


'when am I gonna get to kiss

those pretty lips

of yours-Emma?'


I get shakily to my feet

buttoning up my coat


he unlocks the door

I pause

'not tonight Joseph,

not tonight'








 © HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved


Happy Ever Aftermath


here then gone


I'm sitting 

on a snow covered bench

across from Sams


the air is still

traffic slow

I try not to think of the last two days


on my own

poor lonely





a light flicks on inside

it's him

he stops and looks out at me

I shiver

not with the cold


the door opens

he shouts


'come inside-Emma'

'no thanks'

'you wanna stick to that bench?'


'you'll catch your death-

come on-coffees on-

nice and hot'


I look up at the sky

pregnant with snow

what am I doing here?


He hovers 

then he's putting on his jacket

he runs across to me

he looks like a lumberjack

all fleece and tartan

collar up


he plonks down next to me

rubbing his hands


'you wanna die of hyperthermia?'


'you gotta death wish or somethin'?'


I sigh

I turn my head

to face him

his eyes stand out 

even more in the 

whiteness of the morning


he purses his lips

the lips I nearly kissed

Christmas Eve



it doesn't have to be like this'

'like what?'

'you out here, me in there.'

'but you're out here'

'well I am now...'



his hand moves to mine

long strong fingers curl round mine

I can't move mine

his hand feels warm



'I guess we can freeze together'

I start to laugh

so does he


his other hand appears



'you gonna kiss me now 'Emma,

with the expensive boots?'


he moves nearer

I move away

until I am on the edge

I haven't the will to stand up and run


his face moves round to mine

I stare ahead

then his eyes block my vision

his lips touch mine





my eyes close then open

he smiles 

pulls me to my feet


'come in out of the cold



we walk back to Sams

holding hands


today is better than any Christmas

I have ever had



© HILLY KENDRICK. All rights reserved