A woman walks into a restaurant. Imagine this scene and capture every detail you can in a few paragraphs. Describe the woman: is she old, young, or in-between? What type of restaurant is it: fancy, casual, or a diner? What is she doing? Pack as much detail as you can into a few paragraphs that will help us imagine this woman clearly.
She approaches the restaurant tentatively, her gloved hand lingering on the door handle. If I could read minds, I might say that she is still debating whether she should enter or not. She is alone, and how many people like to dine alone? A few seconds have passed, and now she’s opening the door. Entering. The heels of her long leather boots click-clicking against the marble floor. Confidently, I might add. She’s the deep red-brown of a kidney bean, and the natural top-knot that she wears is lightly threaded with silver strands. The silver in her hair might lead you to conclude she’s “of a certain age,” but she’s not. The unlined, unwrinkled skin, barely touched by gravity or living, might lead you to conclude she’s young. She’s not. Small filigree silver hoops hang from her, Sandra’s, ears and catch the lights from the faux-crystal chandeliers as she slides into the booth of a diner whose décor – brocade fabric on the seats, blue-gray marble tops and counters imported from Italy, and even the tuxedos of the staff — pretends to be more than it is, but whose menu tells its truth: typical coffee shop fare.
She unbuttons her coat and sighs. There. She’s here. Good. She glances at the schoolhouse-style clock on the far wall. 2:30 sharp. She’s taking a deep breath now. Alone as instructed. Without her usual sunglasses. Her life coach, Dan, will be proud of her. She notices that her royal blue coat is a complement to the blue in the table top. She notices her hands. The violet polish has started to chip from her short nails, and the webbed skin between her thumbs and forefingers is gray with drying skin. She sighs again. Now to order, but first she removes the props from her purse. Kindle. iPod. Two things her coach hadn’t put restrictions on. Had she even told him about these crutches? She answers her own question with a shrug of her narrow shoulders. She doesn’t remember. The server approaches, so she places her order: two eggs over-easy, whole wheat toast brushed with olive oil instead of butter, real or fake, black coffee. Easy enough, the order. Now the wait. Now the wait. Alone. Only thirty minutes. But an eternity. Where to look without making eye contact? What to do? Where to place her hands? Should she smile or not? Sandra touches the Kindle and relaxes. Some. She presses the power button. What? Battery too low, which means no reading. The same with the iPod. Not even a low battery message. Nothing. Now what? She is looking around – her eyes are darting furiously – for a discarded paper. Magazine. Anything. Alone in a restaurant with nothing to do.
Only three minutes have passed, yet Sandra barks, “What’s taking my order so long?” Her voice is not as gentle as her looks. It sounds like the voice of too many cigarettes, and, dare I say, too much alcohol. It’s an old voice with too little exercise. A voice with plenty of lines and wrinkles, weighted with gravity and living. The server ignores her and continues about her business. Sandra decides to review Dan’s instructions. She removes the small spiral notebook from her purse. “Oh. Oh! OH!” Her voice rises with each proclamation, no longer sedentary but full of nervous energy. Sandra is clawing at her coat and purse now. Violet chips fall to the floor. She is rushing from the coffee shop, the heels of her boots making an awful noise against the marble floor. She turns left and stops at the intersection, nearly crashing into the golden retriever tied to the street sign post. Main Street and Devon Way. She looks at the notebook again. “Once you order, which should be about 2:30, I will be there to meet you at 3:00. Don’t wait for me. Just order and remain poised. The coffee shop is at Main and Clevon. “Clevon,” she says aloud. “CLE-von,” she shouts as she clutches her coat and purse with one hand while she uses the other to part the air as she runs. One block away. She doesn’t remember now, but later Sandra will remember her Kindle and iPod, and Dan, who is still waiting for her, will wonder why she runs from their table. Screaming…