by Than Pence
Rebecca waits for Dan in a restaurant.
|Rebecca sat in the chair uncomfortably, waiting. Dan was over thirty minutes late and she was growing tired from the experience. The waiter put more breadsticks on the table and she resisted meeting his eyes this time. The pity she saw there ten minutes prior had sent her blood racing.
Rolling her neck to get rid of some stiffness, Rebecca couldn’t help but visually skim over the décor once more. Being a French restaurant, it actually reminded her of her trip to New Orleans. Except for the vast painting that portrayed the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. For Rebecca, it seemed to be out of place: it took a man like Napoleon and brought harsh light on the fact that the Frenchman lost his battle. She wondered if the restaurant’s owner was being ironic in choosing the grim yet colorful image.
Looking at her wrist, Rebecca immediately felt foolish because she wasn’t wearing her watch. It didn’t match her dress. She reached into her bag and pulled out her cell phone to check the time, and to see if Dan had texted her. Five minutes had passed since she last checked and Rebecca was building up the urge to send Dan a message that read something like “Go screw yourself. I’m downing a margarita with Nicole. Don’t ever call me again!”
She went so far as to compose the entire message and then paused for a brief slice of eternity, her thumb hovering over the Send key like cat waiting to pounce on a roach.
Her phone buzzed in her hand.
Rebecca, startled by the moment, gasped and dropped the phone back into her purse. A moment later, Dan’s ringtone started blaring: a mariachi band playing “La Cucaracha”. Rebecca felt her face heat up with embarrassment as she pressed the Answer key and avoided eye contact with all those around her she that knew were staring.
“Becky! I’m so sorry I’m late! I took a nap after work and… and I didn’t wake up in time. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I’ll be there in, like, ten minutes.”
Rebecca pulled the phone away to check the time yet again and rolled her eyes when she did the math. “That means you’ll be over forty-five minutes late, Dan. That’s pretty close to an hour. And I told you I’m not going to wait for an hour since that last time, remember?”
Silence filled her phone and Rebecca felt like hanging up on him, paying for her drink, and leaving.
“I’m… I’m getting ready right—”
There was a small thud and Rebecca started smirking as she imagined Dan hopping around his shambled bedroom while trying to put his pants on and talk on the phone at the same time. She couldn’t resist conceding to the man. “I’ll be here. Waiting.”
Dan sighed and Rebecca felt she could hear a smile spread across his face. “’Kay, babe. Ten minutes. See you then.”
She hung up without a word, unable to keep herself from smiling. She put her phone back and sat for a moment before someone opened the front entrance. It was an elegantly dressed couple and the woman walked through and stopped. Rebecca knew the woman was probably staring at Waterloo painting and might’ve been as equally perplexed by it’s inclusion as Rebecca was.
As the woman stood and stared, the man walked blindly into her back and she swore loudly. She then looked around and Rebecca was the first person to make eye contact with this new stranger. A deep shade of red envelope the woman’s face and Rebecca turned away to look into her diminished candle and its weak flame.
The couple continued to speak in low tones in the entryway, Rebecca knew, because light Mexican music from across the street was bleeding in through the open door and huddling around Rebecca in a comforting way. It reminded her of her weekend in Mexico with Dan. Rebecca took another sip and realized she was no longer uncomfortable.
Dan would arrive shortly and they’d both enjoy themselves. She was sure of it. She watched the new arrivals as they weaved through the pack of dining tables, being led by a waiter that looked like the one that pitied Rebecca. She nibbled on a breadstick and began to hum “La Cucaracha” and continued to wait.
Word Count: 725