She exploded with brightness while the wood-grained walls of the airport restaurant swallowed him whole. She came forward; he fell back.
A gentle, refined seasoning of white complimented her look: sweater, sneakers, and beautifully coiffed hair. From my mother’s day she came – and wore her age with proud, enthusiastic confidence.
His aura — sluggish and thick — was the perfect fit for his oversized waist and heavy movements. If not for her vibrancy to serve as a counterweight, he would have been invisible, absorbed by the background of the dimly lit restaurant.
Despite differences, their body language shared a history woven into long-term couples. They had seen much together; it was that bond that held them close.
He stared out the window, a leather-bound menu closed in front of him. Although the tarmac was busy, he was not watching the commotion; his eyes were fixed in space as he tried to remove himself from the discussion.
“What about your weight?” She asked. In her emphatic determination, there was no cruelty; simply the loving concern of a spouse who’s had this same discussion time and again. Whereby it would be wise for others not to venture there, wives have privilege; they walk where most wisely do not tread. “I don’t want to be a pest. It’s just the doctor said if you don’t watch what you eat, you’ll have another heart attack.”
“I’m tired of rabbit food,” he said, struggling to hold down his emotion. “I want something real. When I’m done eating, I want to know I had a meal.” He didn’t look at her; he was speaking to the window.
“I know,” she said, compassion in her voice. “Please…”
Interrupting the conversation, the waiter arrived.
Dropping her gaze at her husband, she turned to the waiter, “I’ll have the chicken salad please. And a cup of tea.”
The waiter then turned to her dark brown, dull gray partner, who didn’t look up from the menu.
Waiting patiently, the waiter remained.
The husband broke the silence, quietly, softly, as he handed over the menu. “Chef’s salad. Fat free dressing.”
As the waiter left, the brown man turned back to the window, unable to see the pink and white glow of softness in his wife’s eyes. Underneath the table, she patted his leg.
Together, silently, holding hands, they watched as airplanes took to the sky.