Happily Ever Never

She gazed fixedly at the couple just a few tables away. The lady, probably once beautiful, twirled the pink umbrella in her drink, apparently more interested in the designs she was making in the frozen concoction rather than her present company. Said company was a man, slightly balding yet attractive rapidly typing away on his phone, clicking sounds resonating through the restaurant. Each click seemed like it tapped directly into her brain as she watched the two of them. Click. Click. Click. Faster and faster as she watched.

Aware that she as completely unobserved, she unabashedly watched the two for quite some time. The woman’s full lips were painted red, turned in a slight frown that matched her drawn eyebrows. She was dressed smartly in a black blazer and jeans with grey booties. Her auburn hair fell long around her shoulders but was pulled back on top by a clippie, the only sign that fashion was probably not at the top of her priority list. Occasionally, the lady would bring the straw to her mouth, sipping heavily of the drink before returning to her musings. Every so often, she would look around the restaurant as though waiting for someone else to appear, some one who might entertain her and fill the void with more than clicking noises.

The clicking noises only paused every other minute while the man took a drag from the bourbon setting in front of him. Ice melted slowly in the amber liquid causing a pool of water around the glass on the wooden table. She watched as the man sipped without even taking his eyes from the screen in his hand. His eyes never left the phone. It was almost a talent. He seemed completely unaware that the woman was even across the table from him. Unlike hers, his face was one of peace. Lines formed across his brow, but did not crease or shoot upward in surprise. It’s as if there was no emotion what-so-ever. Just him, his bourbon and the clicking sound.

She wondered what brought this couple to this place in time. The dull gleam of rings indicated that they were married, and given their age, it must have been for some time. Both were relatively attractive people. Surely it was that which had first drawn them together. She allowed herself to imagine them as they may have been 20 years ago. She with shorter hair and 15 pounds lighter, was quite the catch. He, head full of dark hair and athletically built, holding his arm out so that she might escort him to a party. Him smiling at her as though nothing else in the world existed. Both of them dressed to the nines.

“Ah hem”. The smiling waiter interrupted her thoughts, blurring the party’s details. “Anything else?” His youthful face begged that she would say yes. His hope for increasing his tips for the night was plastered over pimples and barely-there whiskers.

She smiled, “Yes, please. Another of these.”

“Very well. Be back in a second!” He beamed at her and left.

Returning to her musings, she pictured the couple on the beach, sipping margaritas with the same pink umbrellas, leaving them to melt and wading out into the ocean. The man swinging the lady around, her head tossed back in estatic laughter, only to draw it in toward his smiling face for a passionate kiss. Then splashing back to their towels on the sand, dissolving in fits of giggles.

Maybe it wasn’t always so picturesque, but she took comfort in giving them some sort of benefit of the doubt. Surely their lives couldn’t always have been this way.

Her waiter returned, exchanging her empty glass for a new one. Thanking her with his eyes.

Looking down into her glass, she frowns. This poor couple, she thought, looking up over her glass for another peek. They sit here in this restaurant hardly even acknowledging one another. It’s so tragically sad. Sipping her drink and finding it satisfactory, she stares over at the couple again.

The man has set down his phone, tossing back whatever remains there were of his bourbon. The woman’s drink is nearly gone, pink umbrella still swirling around in her fingers. She has yet to look at her husband.

Gosh, these two are such a sad couple. What a terrible date. She shudders at the thought of them and thinks to herself. Lord, I hope that never happens to us. 

“You ready?” The voice from across the table makes her jump. So caught up in her own observations, she’d almost forgotten he was there.

“Sure.” She twists the pink umbrella out of the glass, dropping it to the table, and stands to leave.

 

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