Breakfast at Noon

One, please. Three individuals wavered by the door, total strangers asking for a seat for one. The hostess obliged, leading them to separate tables or booths, and a waitress would be with them shortly. Nobody exchanged looks as they took their coats off and draped them around the chair, and menus were picked up, covering their face. And their stomachs rumbled, ready to order food.

Red hearts dangled from the ceiling. Cupid aimed his arrow but misfired. Love, laughter, and life raised high in the hour but fell on deaf ears. Only the clink and clatter of a local diner filled the view, and strangers parked in seats fade to black. Only the roar of thoughts and the ticking of time were the companions of the one seated alone, and the nice, old lady came and went, taking orders as she goes.

In the left hand corner booth were a bunch of teen-aged girls. They gossiped and whispered, talking like the girls from high school once upon a time. How things have not changed or people, and they talked of one being a bitch. A small smile to think of those times now so despised, and attention roamed over their heads to those behind them and to those behind them, families, friends, and coworkers all huddled together. But one remained seated alone.

She spoke into her cell phone, begging for contact. She did not look at the other seated a very short distance away at her own table. The third loner was led to the back near the bathroom, already munching on food. She spoke quietly, eagerly listening, but the connection was brief. She folded the phone in her hand and looked around but not at the other beside her. She wanted the order to come, the bill, and then to go. Why was it so wrong to eat alone?

The pancakes were luscious. Like an artist, I painted each one with butter and then drowned them in syrup. Like a surgeon, I cut each piece delicately, savoring every bite. As a writer, I consumed my atmosphere, its occupants, and food for thought, but I could not stray too far. There were appointments still to be kept, and she left me the bill, taking away the empty plate. I rose from my seat, sliding into my coat, and dishing out a five and one dollar bill, and before I left, I placed that cash in the nice, old lady’s hand. And then the glass doors gently slid closed, ending breakfast at noon.

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