Creating a setting from a different time or place that is unfamiliar to me, is not called a challenge for nothin’. Here goes somethin’…
I was moving slow today. Actually, everything seemed to be in slow motion. I felt a hyper-awareness to my surroundings. While walking to the diner, I was aware of each foot step as if it were calculated. The pressure, the distance, the speed, my senses were working over-time.
A waft of smoke distended out into the fresh air when I opened the heavy glass door. The suits must be lined up at the counter for lunch already, I thought. I reminded myself that I should probably quit smoking, but I took a deep inhale for the moment. I was oddly calm, but my hyper-awareness was beginning to make me feel on edge. Rita nodded me over to an empty table next to a window. I always pictured her as a Hindu Goddess with four arms by the way she was able to balance everything. This was my favorite Greek diner this side of town, but the air was heavy on the garlic today, making me a bit queasy. I took my seat. I always sat facing the crowd; I liked to people watch. This behavior really annoyed my husband when he wanted my attention.
I wasn’t seated for more than a minute before I became entranced in my surroundings. There was something about Nixon and the war on the radio near the counter. All the men had their ears perked, but I couldn’t listen; it was too depressing. I saw their faces turn from jovial to somber in a matter of seconds. My eyes swerved to behind the counter where old Babo, that’s what we all called the owner, was yelling something in Greek. His arms were flailing around wildly at his son who appeared to be late for work. Wow, he grew up fast. He was wearing red flared pants and a flowery shirt. It was all very tight and showed off his new grown-up physique. Just then the sound of a spoon rattling against a cup and saucer demanded my attention. Rita must have sent over the new girl with my usual cup of tea. Her hand was shaking, she was so nervous. I gave her a friendly smile trying to calm her nerves. Wait a minute, I thought, I was the one that needed calming!
I ordered some Avgolemono, as that was about all my stomach could take for the moment. I wondered how long it would be before John arrived. The last cloud must have surrendered, because the sun was coming in through the window beside me now. It was going to be another scorcher. I could sense the pavement outside bracing for impact already against the overhead sun. My polyester dress seemed to react like an oven, and I was the food being roasted alive. A Beatles song was just turned up a hair by Rita. She gave Babo a look as if to say, “Don’t you say a word!” But in Greek, of course. I wish the Beatles’ break-up was still my greatest concern.
I watched as every movement from the waitresses seemed to create a reaction from old Babo. I thought I was on edge, but watching his exaggerated expressions made me feel somehow more at ease. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but his face and hands told the whole story. I sensed I was being watched at that moment and turned my head towards the feeling. When I caught her, the elderly woman looked down at her coffee, purposefully slow. What was that about? I suddenly felt guilty. Could she tell? No way. Was it because I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring? We couldn’t afford one. John and I decided to wait until he was at least a few months into his new fancy job.
We were still so young. We had only been married four months and still getting to know one another. Would he be happy? I’m sure I was worried for nothing, but I am a naturally paranoid person. My paranoia began to peek when he still hadn’t arrived. Queens wasn’t that far from the airport. Just then, I saw him rush in through the door. I watched as he quickly scanned the restaurant for me. I raised my hand and he offered me a wide smile. God, he was beautiful. He was dressed in a form fitting leisure suit. Everyone dressed up to fly. It was all very out-of-my-league. He sat down and I could immediately feel his energy. He seemed happy. “Hello, darling,” he said. I returned the warm greeting.
Then blurted, “I’m pregnant.”
Photo credit: www.tintandgraphics.com Deciding on an image was tough because I didn’t want to give anything away, such as the time and place I was trying to describe. I wanted my words to be used to figure this out and not have the picture do it for me. The challenge was to write a setting for the following scene: A man and his wife meet for lunch in a diner on August 5th, 1970, in New York City. She’s pregnant and plans to spill the beans over lunch.
Below are other great responses to this challenge:
- Loyal muse
- Mary J Melange
- Epic Blog
- Late-Night Ruminations
- Cream Cheese, Bread & World Peace
- This is ME, you know.
- Project Momentarily
- Shawn’s Open Journal…
- In the life of Sara…
- A Fragile Line