by Michelle Hess
They arrived for their 10:00 pm seating ten minutes early. He pulled out her chair before the maître d’ had a chance. She leaned her cane against the wall. Out of the way. Out of her line of vision. They were handed menus and as she began to peruse the offerings, he said loudly, “Whatever you want. Order whatever you want.” She nodded. Smiled.
A balloon floated past his face and he grabbed it. Offered it to her. She took it and twirled the ribbon as she studied the menu. The waiter arrived. He ordered a bottle of wine for them to share. He asked what appetizer they should share, repeated his refrain: “Whatever you want.” She suggested the octopus and he agreed in a instant. When the waiter returned, the man ordered for himself. “And she’ll have, well, whatever she’s having!”
When the food arrived, they ate quietly, occasional commentary breaking the silence. On the music, “It is just noise,” he said. “There’s no melody!” On the food, “Is it what you wanted?” She returned the favor, inquiring about his meal, remarking on the decor.
The meal ended and they debated dessert. Again, he told her to get whatever she wanted. “We have blueberry pie upstairs,” he said. “I will have that when we get home.”
“With chocolate ice cream?” she asked.
“Yes!” he replied, lightly slapping the table with his palm.
“That sounds nice for me too.” So it was decided.
“Shall we stay till midnight?” he asked. “Might as well,” was her reply.
And they sat, watching the couples dancing, smiling at the surrounding tables and at each other. When it was announced to be midnight, he got up from his chair and shuffled two steps toward her. He kissed her, briefly, sweetly.
“Shall I get the coats?” She nodded. When he returned, he helped her back into her coat, handed her a fur hat which she positioned on her head. He tucked their bag of leftovers into her purse. As she put her gloves on, he pulled two balloons their way and tied them to her purse. “Festive!” he declared. He reached for her hand, the hand free from the cane, and they walked out into the night air. Two silver balloons floated behind them.
Michelle Hess lives and writes in New York City and is totally over the Polar Vortex. She excels at trivia, sarcasm, and eating cheese.
featured image: Cristian Baitg / Photographer’s Choice RF