Table For One

The coffee shop was quiet and nearly empty. He could not imagine how they stayed in business.  Besides the barista – a college-aged man who sat on his stool, reading a book – only one other person was in the place, a woman sitting at a table against the far wall.  She was reading something, too. The only sound either of them made was occasionally turning a page.

Unlike a library, where every sound is grating and out of place, the shop felt as if it were on the verge of springing to life. But it never did, and so he was left to his own thoughts and imagination. That is, until someone else came in and sat in the chair next to his.

“Hi. How are you?”

“Oh. It’s you.”

“That’s not very friendly. I saw you sitting alone and thought I’d say hi, but I can leave if you want.”

“No, that’s fine. Just sitting here thinking.”

“About what?”

“You know. The usual.”

“The past. The different ways you’ve messed up your life. The many people you’ve hurt. How you vaguely wish your life would just be over. That stuff, right?”

“Shut up.”

“Again with the attitude.”

“You know all this. You know how it feels. Why are we talking about this again?”

“You brought it up.”

“No. I politely replied to your question.”

“Okay, okay. So are you going to do anything about it? Or just sit and mope?”

“Now who’s being unfriendly?”

“It’s just that all of this gets old.”

“For me, too. It’d be nice if you would quit bringing it up.”

“Passing the blame again. Take some responsibility; don’t put this on other people.”

“You’re not other people.”

“Still, you know what I mean.”

“You think I like sitting around and moping? I don’t. I wish all of this would stop.”

“Then stop it. You make it sound like this is happening to you, instead of coming from you. This is your life; take control of it. And if you can’t do it by yourself, find someone to help you figure it out.”

“I would if I could.”

“What’s stopping you?”

“You know.”

“Say it. Say it so that you know.”

“I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of changing. Of not knowing who I am. That if I give this up, there will be nothing left. Of being happy. Of finding out that my entire life was a lie, and I’ve wasted it.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“Prove it.”

“I… I can’t.”

“I know.”

“Excuse me.” He looked up to see a woman standing behind the chair next to him. “I’m sorry for interrupting; you seemed really lost in thought. Would you mind if I take this chair so my friend and I can sit together?”

He looked at the empty chair and sighed. “I don’t mind. Please help yourself.”


After she dragged the chair away, he was again alone with his thoughts.

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