Three months passed. Mags checked his e-mail periodically to see if Molly had written (she hadn't). He started several e-mails to her but he never sent them because he didn't want to bore her with the drivel of his life. Finally, he wrote one sentence and this time he sent it: "I still miss my mother."
A month later he got a one sentence response: "I still miss my father."
Every once in a while Molly would glance around the diner or out the window hoping against hope that maybe Mags had made a gallant return but he was never there and after a while she resigned herself to the reality that he was never coming back. He was supposed to go off after high school and experience the adventure of a lifetime and she was supposed to save the world one teenager at a time but neither got to the finish line. Now she was a scarred and scared waitress and he was an injured former Sailor and she wished it could have been different for both of them.
Molly was sitting on the stool in the kitchen feeling sorry for herself on another slow day at the diner when Jim entered the kitchen with an amazed and amused look on his face.
"He's back," Jim told her.
Molly barely heard him. "Huh?" She asked, glancing up.
"That guy," Jim said. "He's back. He's here. Out there in the same booth."
"What guy?" Molly asked with confusion.
"The guy with the limp and the cane," he reported. "Only no van this time."
Molly felt her stomach flip. "Mags?"
"Is that his name?" Jim shrugged. "I guess."
She almost fell off the stool and then she drifted across the kitchen and peeked through the swinging door. Sure enough Mags was sitting in the same booth. His hair was cut and his beard was trimmed and he was wearing better clothes but he still had the cane hanging from the end of the table.
"Why don't you go take his order?" Jim gently suggested.
She glanced at her boss. "This doesn't mean anything," she said sadly.
"Aren't you tired of being miserable, Molly?" Jim asked. "You were miserable when you got here and you were double miserable after he left that day. He's back. Are you just going to let him walk out of here a second time?"
"He's probably just passing through again," Molly sighed.
"You're missing the obvious, sweetie," Jim said, giving her a gentle shove through the swinging door. "He's here now."
Molly slowly and nervously walked to the booth, taking her order pad out of her pocket. She couldn't believe she was wearing the same ugly yellow waitress dress. There were only a few other customers in the place but they all seemed to be watching her.
He looked up from the menu Jim had given him and he smiled when he saw her. "Hi, Molly."
"Do you know what you'd like?" She asked.
"Yes, I do," he answered with a grin.
Molly couldn't believe she was feeling herself blush. "Spaghetti?" She guessed.
"That too," Mags smiled.
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"What do you think I'm doing here?"
"I don't know," she admitted.
"I'm here to get rid of the emotional baggage," he announced.
"Yours or mine?" Molly asked.
"Both," he decided.
He reached his hand out and took hers, pulling her into the bench next to him and suddenly his lips were on hers. She was surprised but she didn't resist.
"Do you want to know who I miss just as much as my mother?" He asked.
"Who?" She asked weakly.
"You," he revealed. "Do you miss me just as much as your father?"
"Yes," she sighed desperately, kissing him in return. "There's so much I need to tell you," she said, almost sobbing now.
"There will be plenty of time for that," Mags assured her. "I rented an apartment over on Davidson."
"What?" She asked with disbelief.
"I'd rather live here with you than at home without you," he explained.
She was dumbstruck, staring at him with her mouth hanging open.
"No more fake lives, Molly" Mags said, maintaining seriously intense eye contact with her. "I know terrible things have happened to both of us. I know you're hurt and traumatized. I am too. But I want you to know that I'm here to help both of us get over those tragedies and get on with our lives."
"I'm not a pretty girl, Mags," She reminded him.
"You're the most beautiful person I know," Mags replied, leaning in and pressing his lips to hers again, this time sliding his tongue into her gapped mouth.
"Let me put your spaghetti order in," she said, her voice quivering.
"No hurry," Mags smiled. I'll be here all night."
Molly slid out of the booth and stumbled toward the kitchen wondering if all of this was real or just another fake attempt to make things seem happy. But then she realized she didn't care because she knew fake lives mattered too.