Charlie never stopped growing. He was a man in his early 40’s. He worked as a chef at a local, but highly esteemed, Italian restaurant. When I was 19 I got a job there as a waitress. I remember vividly our first meeting, us crashing into each other as he was flying out of the kitchen-and I flying in. My tray fell with a loud clatter.
“I’m sorry, cupcake,” he mumbled but kept walking. I didn’t mind. He was incredibly tall, so tall I had to look up a bit to see his face. And, even then, I could hardly make eye contact. So I did not try.
“Did you know he’s gotten taller since he started working here?” A co-worker whispered to me one evening. It was a cold winter night, and bustling with business. Her and I sat and ate on break. She had electric blonde hair. “Really?” I asked, not at all skeptical. She nodded. “I don’t know what it is, but I swear every week he’s a little bit taller.”
And so I watched him closely. As weeks and months wend by, it was like watching grass grow. You could watch it for hours on end and see no difference, but come back a few days later, and suddenly it was taller. It wasn’t by much, but I knew in my heart that he was getting taller. Had he been born a very small child, and has only grown a very tiny amount every few days for 40 years? Or did he start growing one day, and never stopped?
I wanted desperately to ask, but I thought it best to not say anything about it. No one said anything about it, not even Charlie. I could see that it bothered him sometimes. One day, my last week working at the restaurant, he hit his head on the cooler door. He frowned and rubbed the top of his head. I could see the gears turning inside his brain as he stared at the cooler door, rubbing his head and saying nothing. From then on out, he ducked slightly every time he entered the cooler.
I never saw him fade. My last day, I wanted so desperately to ask him about why he kept growing. How did it start? Where will it end? But I couldn’t, instead I told him about the star children I had met and he smiled widely at me.