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  • Diner at 3
    Kaydi Chou
    1 Oct 2004

    She sat alone in the diner, holding a mug of cold coffee and gazing every so often from her reflection in it to her reflection in the window. Sinking into the cold curves of the orange bench, she thought of how things used to be and how things were now.

    Every Friday night, they would go out to the dollar theater and pick a movie they had wanted to watch but had never gotten around to. Every Monday, she would bring home flowers and set them out on the table, and every Friday he would take the withered petals and scatter them in the backyard. The dead petals always floated for a while before landing on the soft black earth, and on Fridays right after a Thursday of rain, the slender pink petals of some flower or another always struck her to be like a little pink nightslip, landing with grace alone on sheets of green grass and floors of black earth.

    On sunny, breezy days, they would drive down to the riverside and sit at one of the picnic tables. He would read to her, most often from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and occasionally some Emily Dickinson. She would lean on his arm and sigh while looking at all the branches of the green trees. Sometimes a turtle or curving snake would ripple through the water, and when she would catch that, she'd point it out to him, and they'd both watch the trespasser for a while before continuing with their reading.

    On deep, rainy nights they would lie in bed together and watch old kung-fu movies. They'd talk about how cool it would be to learn the liquid moves and to be able to have that killer beauty and grace. After the movies would finish, they'd sit through the credits and listen to the old music and each other's breathing. After the credits were done, they'd turn out the lights and go to bed, his long and gnagly limbs everywhere and hugging the curves of her body.

    But tonight, on a cold and clear night, she was sitting alone in the diner. A lighted cigarette sat dying in the ashtray, and she held the cup of coffee tightly. Ocassionally, a tear would miss her sleeve and would fall into the coffee. A drop of the ocean in her black lake of diner sludge. Sometimes, the tears would come down in a costant pitter. At others, it was just a solitary droplet that would make a shining trail along the bend of her face.

    Sitting all alone in the diner.


    The door to the diner opened at 3 AM. She lifted her head, and there he was. Face unshaven, and face stark white. Clothes disheveled and his hair a mess. With a fresh burst of tears, she let out a gasping sob which became magnified by the emptiness of the old and lonely diner. Unwilling to have her tears seen, she covered her face with two clean white hands.

    Face torn, he approached her slowly. He slid into the bench facing her.

    Swallowing slowly, he took her clean and icy hands into his dirt-covered own. He sat there patiently, face still rented with heartache as he waited for her to look at him.

    For a while, he sat that way. He could feel her hands shaking, and he could see the tears that quickly ran their old paths down her face.

    Finally, she turned and looked at him. Her brown hair fell into her eyes and as she started sobbing in staccato whimpers, the strands would fly away from her face on her breath before coming back. Gently, he took a leathery hand and brushed the wisps of hair away. He looked into her bloodshot eyes, blurred by the tears, and saw all the pain that had been left there. Without a word, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to her forehead. Even as he pulled away, he felt the tears drop onto his hands as they washed away the grime.

    "I'm sorry," he said.

    She nodded. She put her hands around his and forgave him.