Monday, April 21, 2008

Not us

At the restaurant with the best of intentions. The waitress has seen this before, she knows immediately from their posture, their averted eyes. They speak to her with false good cheer, unusually chipper voices as they promise that their meal and everything else is fine. But when she passes their table, bringing other people plates or shuttling empty glasses to the kitchen, she sees them sitting quietly, with blank faces, as the silence grows between them.

She feels sympathetic, though -- she herself has been in their shoes countless times, occasions with boyfriends or parents. When their own good intentions couldn't overcome the worry and the fear that they dragged in the door behind them.

It was her professional opinion, of course, that sometimes people felt a certain unspoken need to be in public, to face each other across a table even when they did not know or understand what was to be said. It was the sight of other, happier people that reminded them of how, or who, they usually were. A part of them hoped this reminder would be enough to pull them out of the morass, and some nights, maybe it could be.

She felt for them as she worked nearby. They ate quickly, without speaking, as the restaurant whirled around them. Yet their good cheer was unflagging when she offered more drinks, and they insisted that the food was delicious.

Later she bid them good night as they left, quick smiles dissolving below down-turned eyes as they walked back into the night. Yet as they left he put his hand on her shoulder, drawing her in, and from the brightly lit center of the restaurant the waitress could only hope that some kind of change had passed.

1 comment:

Sarah Shingler said...

Ok.. I was already crying on the train this morning .. dreading tomorrow.. brought to tears by a man who brought two brand new bright purple bikes onto the train at the Atlantic Pacific stop.. when will I see that again ? Now my eyes are flooded. Please write a book someday. Warm wishes to you and L.