The Diner

by Steve White

The Diner

The alarm woke me at 6:00 am just like it had for most weekday mornings for the past 12 years. Like always, I laid in my bed listening to the local news before heading out for my morning walk to the nearby diner. The weatherman reported that heavy rain showers were in the area and there was no hope of them letting up for the next several hours. With the temperature in the low 40's I groaned as I thought about how much I would like to stay in my warm bed and for once skip my morning breakfast.

I made my way to the front door of my Main St. apartment and was greeted with the cool temperatures and heavy rain that the radio had for warned me about. The early morning wind was bitter and I was grateful that my walk was short as I made my way across the two city blocks to the diner.

I would have preferred to stay in bed regardless of the weather, but I just couldn't bring myself to break things off with Sarah. She and I had been meeting for breakfast for all of the last 12 years but I had long ago grown tired of our early morning get togethers. Our before dawn dates had grown tiresome and all too predictable for me. Sarah would order one egg over easy with toast and jam and I would order what ever the special was. We'd meet and sit down at the same corner both we had always met at, greet each other with a pleasant good morning and then she would tell me about her activities from the day before. I would tell her of mine and we would smile and occasionally hold hands between bites of our meal.

This morning Sarah told me about how her and her neighbor of 22 years planned on starting up a neighborhood gardening club when the weather got warmer in the spring. I listened as intently as I could as I could see that Sarah was truly excited about their plans. Sarah had always loved to garden and during the warmer months would often come into the diner telling me how well her garden was doing. She would even bring me in some of the fruits of her labors, which I always gladly accepted.

I hadn't always thought of my breakfasts with Sarah as a waste of time. In the early going, and for many, many years, I looked forward to them and even considered them to be the highlight of my day. My wife, Laura, had died 12 years ago and Sarah took it upon herself to make sure that my life didn't become one of complete misery and loneliness. Her and Laura had been friends since high school and I suppose she needed my comforting in the loss of her friend as much as I needed her in the loss of my wife.

Sarah was the victim of a marriage gone bad. She had grown lonely and isolated, and simply put she had become a neglected woman. She had married her high school sweet heart at the age of 19 after discovering that she had become pregnant. They truly loved each other in the beginning but with the arrival of their new infant and four more kids in the years to come, life got harder and harder for them. The stress of work and trying to make ends meet made them very tired and weary and over the years they had just grown apart. I had met her husband many times before Laura died and he really wasn't a bad guy, they just came unglued somehow and they went through life together more as a force of habit than for any choice that either one of them had made.

The diner meetings started off innocently enough as we leaned on each other for support and comfort, but in time I caught myself growing very fond of her. Sarah was an attractive petite woman with a curvy body, and despite her nearly 50 years still had her girlish good looks and a radiant smile. She was smart, and adorable and certainly I couldn't be blamed for growing to love her. For as long as I live I will never forget the day, three years ago, when I finally got up the courage to tell her from across the table that I loved her. She looked at me without blinking or even a moments hesitation and said, "I know".

How could she know? How could she say "I know", as though I had just told her that the sun would soon be up. I blushed as a scrambled to keep my composure. In retrospect I guess I had given myself away with all of the cards and flowers and gifts. I couldn't help myself really. She made me feel like a schoolboy again and I had fallen for her like I had fallen for no other woman ever before. I loved her with all of my heart and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be with her and only her for the rest of my life.

I felt even more like a schoolboy on that fateful day 3 years ago when she finished chewing her toast. She was so calm and relaxed looking. I looked at her so intensely as I tried to read her face for clues as to what she was thinking, waiting for a reaction to what I had just told her. She just calmly finished chewing her bite of toast as though she had truly known all along. She put down her fork and stared at her half eaten egg for just a moment, she slowly lifted her head and calmly told me. " I love you too".

I left the diner that day floating on air. I went home and spent the day dreaming of my life with Sarah. I dreamed of spending all of my time with her. I dreamed of our vacations together. I fantasized about the day when we would finally kiss and press our bodies so very close together. I dreamed of undressing her and caressing and holding her beautiful body in my arms for the first time. I dreamed of all of the ways that I would touch her and her me. I dreamed of her in my bed and of making love to her. I dreamed of pleasing her and spending the rest of my days committed to making her as happy as I possibly could. I was the happiest man in the world.

That was three years ago and now it was often hard for my mind to even stay focused on what Sarah was telling me and this morning was no exception. I couldn't help but think about how I was wasting my time with this relationship and that somewhere out there was a woman that could and would give me the constant companionship that I craved. I had always held out hope that someday Sarah would come to her senses and see what I could see. That is that her and I should be together all the time. Not just in the mornings at this lonely diner but all the time, not just on weekdays but everyday. I held out hope that someday she would leave her husband for me and we could be together. But the truth was that she wouldn't and probably never would. I pleaded with her on countless occasions to join me in my world outside the diner and share her life with me. She would always tell me how much she loved me but that she just couldn't leave Brian.

I would often ask her to just join me for the day but she always refused me. In all the years that we had met at the diner, in all the years that I have loved her, and in all the years that she has loved me we have never met outside of the diner.

We would often whisper and fantasize about how wonderful it would be to spend more time together. We would talk about spending days at the park with a picnic lunch under beautiful, clear blue summer skies. We talked about week long vacations to far off lands where we would find ourselves alone and isolated from the rest of the world. We would even talk about spending evenings together under the stars, gazing into each others eyes and on mornings that we were feeling especially brave we would whisper about making love to each other. We would tell each other wonderful stories about how we would touch each other and how wonderful it would feel. On these days it was all I could do to not lean over and kiss her.

In time I learned that all this romantic talk was nothing more than fantasy. We would leave the diner and I would go home to my lonely apartment and be by myself. I had no one to talk with or kiss or hold or to make love to. She would go home to her husband and maybe be as lonely as I was but she had someone. I could see them in my head planning their days and vacations together. They had grown apart but they were still together. At the end of the day I crawled into my cold lonely bed and she was climbing into his bed. She was his wife and if he wanted to make love to her she was there for him. She had a warm body to sleep with and to be pleased by when she choose.

I knew that it was long past time to move on. Sarah was my woman for 45 minutes a day 5 days a week. I knew that I needed to make a life for myself with a woman that would share her entire life with me. I needed to find a woman that would spend afternoons with me at the park, that I could kiss, that I could make love to and wake up with in the morning and have breakfast with in my kitchen.

There are other women for me out there too. There are women that would be happy to be with me, and a woman that would be happy to share her life with me. I see them every day at the market, at the bank, sitting in traffic, at the post office. They are everywhere and unfortunately for them they are not at all in short supply. Sometimes I watch them and wonder which one of them will spend their life with me. Mostly for practice I try to picture myself approaching one of them and asking them to join me for dinner or a walk in the park.

I am not a fortuneteller and I cannot tell the future but I do know two things for sure. One is that tomorrow morning I need to tell Sarah that our time together has come to an end. I need to tell her that after 12 years of breakfast together that this will be our last meal together. I need to tell her that I need to move on and find someone for myself. I need to find someone that I can really spend time with. The second thing I know for sure is that I will never tell Sarah that. I will never leave her because I love her more than any man has ever loved a woman.

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