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What the Cold Wind Blew In

The waitress offered me a blazing smile as the cold wind and I blew into the pub. Her name tag said "Maggie" and her expression said "Welcome home!" This from a total stranger?

"Hi, there! Grab a seat. I'll be with you in a sec." She lifted a huge tray of drinks as if it were empty and threaded her way through the tables.

I found an empty table and sat down. Maggie wasn't much to look at, not at first glance, average height and build with a cap of fox-coloured hair. She had deep brown eyes, and a smile that could light up New York.

It didn't take long to empty the tray. As she approached, I noticed the design on the front of her black velvet vest. An iridescent pegasus danced across the close-fitting garment. Unlike the other waitresses I saw, Maggie wore a white blouse underneath her vest. If Maggie had been large busted, the pegasus would have looked suggestive. On her, with that blouse, it looked natural.

She followed my gaze to her chest and blushed. "Um, what-what can I get you?" she stammered.

"Did you do that?" I asked, pointing to the embroidery.

She looked down again. "Oh, the embroidery!" She shrugged, blushing. "Yeah. It kills time."

"Very nice." I asked for a beer and a sandwich. She returned quickly with both then hurried off to answer a call from another table.

As I ate, I wondered about her. I'd originally thought her to be in her late twenties. Fine lines around her eyes said otherwise. Beneath her eyes, her skin was slightly pouched and darkened, as if she hadn't had enough sleep.

She wore a light perfume, lavender, lemon and something else. It was a refreshing change from the cloying scents of the 'fashionable'.

I watched Maggie serve customers. She traded remarks with one raucous group, making them laugh. She laid a hand on the shoulder of a solitary patron. From where I sat, I could see their expressions. Pain dominated, with sympathy from Maggie and gratitude from the patron. He patted her hand and gave a wan smile. I watched as her denim-clad derriere swung deftly out of the way of a questing hand. The owner of the hand complained loudly. Maggie ignored him.

My view was blocked as several people came in at once, and then she was in front of me. She had a beer in one hand and a huge coffee mug in the other.

"Mind if I join you?" she asked. From her expression, I think she was expecting a refusal.

It surprised me. "Sure, have a seat."

She sat down, putting the beer in front of me and cradling the coffee mug. "Thanks. I hate having my breaks alone in the back."

"Why me?" I blurted out.

She looked confused for a second and then grinned. "You mean, other than the fact that you're still sober?" She tipped her head thoughtfully. "Anyone who spends the better part of half an hour watching me either needs new glasses or a friend." She sat back a bit, starting to relax. "And I was curious as to which one it was."

"I suppose I could use both," I admitted.

Maggie's warm, welcoming smile returned. "Done."