TABLE FOR TWO
He sits by himself at a table for two.
The uniformed waiter returns to his side and asks,
"Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?"
The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o'clock
-- almost half an hour. "No, thank you," the man smiles.
"I'll wait for her a while longer."
"How about some more coffee?"
"Certainly, sir." The man sits, his clear eyes gazing straight through
the flowered centerpiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing
the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow
music to fill his mind. He is dressed in sport coat and tie.
His dark hair is neatly combed. The scent of his cologne adds to his
clean-cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel
important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one
uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make
others feel at ease with him. Still, he sits alone.
The waiter returns to fill the man's coffee cup.
"Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?" "No, thank you."
The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity.
"I don't mean to pry, but..." His voice trails off.
This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.
"Go ahead," the man encourages.
His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.
"Why do you bother waiting for her?" the waiter finally blurts out.
This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.
Says the man quietly, "Because she needs me." "Are you sure?" "Yes."
"Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure
isn't acting much like it. She's stood you up three times just
this week." The man winces, and looks down at the table. "Yes, I know."
"Then why do you still come here and wait?"
"Cassie said that she would be here."
"She's said that before," the waiter protests.
"I wouldn't put up with it. Why do you?"
Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, "Because
I love her."
The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands
him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides.
Across the room, he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly
pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between his
fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After
staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his
mouth and sips, silently watching those around him. He doesn't look
crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don't
know about. Or maybe the man's love is stronger than most.
The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order from a
party of five. The man watches the waiter, and wonders if he's ever
been stood up. The man has, many times. But he still can't get used
to it. Each time, it hurts. He's looked forward to this evening all
day. He has many things, exciting things, to tell Cassie. But, more
importantly, he wants to hear Cassie's voice. He wants her to tell
him all about her day, her triumphs, her defeats....anything, really.
He has tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He'd
just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically
at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing that Cassie is
late, but still hoping that she will arrive.
The clock says 9:30 when the waiter returns to the man's table.
"Is there anything I can get for you?"
The still empty chair stabs at the man.
"No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the check please?"
When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his
wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast.
But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and
the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie? His mind cries as he gets up
from the table.
"Good-bye," the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.
"Good night. Thank you for your service."
"You're welcome, sir," says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt
in the man's eyes that his smile doesn't hide.
The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out,
and his eyes glisten as he
thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at
the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be
able to make it, he thinks.
"Seven o'clock tomorrow for party of two?" the hostess confirms.
"That's right," the man replies.
"Do you think she'll come?" asks the hostess. She doesn't mean to be
rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.
"Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her." The man buttons his
overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are
hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether
they are hunched against the wind or against the man's hurt.
man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after an
evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to
set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last
night: "7:00 - Spend some time in prayer," it says.
Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt,
but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends.
And now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night. Jesus
will forgive her. And she's sure he doesn't mind.
author: Kirsten Burgess
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