The young couple sits together on the same side of the booth. The boy tries to teach his completely beautiful girlfriend how to play chess–or not how to play, precisely, but he tries to explain the idea of it, the concept of chess. She keeps reaching for the board, for the patient pieces, but he won’t let her make a move. So she holds her brow to demonstrate her concentration, but keeps giggling and looking out the window like she’s ready to leave.
At the next table, another woman impatiently waits, and she wants her impatience evident to everyone. She is not meant to sit alone. Her face drawn into various creases, she taps her foot in a twitch, covers her mouth with her hand, checks her cell phone, tugs her sleeves over her palms so only her fingers extend to the objects around her. She keeps gazing at the door, at the clock, away from the waiter. She refuses to even ponder the menu while unaccompanied.
A tall, slender man stops at the entryway and gazes into the dark of the café.
The impatient woman melts, silently and suddenly forgives him, drops her arms to her sides and lets a slow smile dawn on her now smooth face. He enters casually, as if perfectly on time–and perhaps he is. He orders their coffees. She beams.
At the chessboard, the young girl lets her head fall back as she groans. And her boyfriend, shy and obedient, slides away the untouched game.