He spent the night before in a drunken stupor. The pressures of life was getting too much. Every choice he made seemed in vain. He had the best intentions for everything he did, yet his decisions and actions had consequences that panned out very differently to what he envisioned.
He could still taste the alcohol on his breath as he forced himself off his couch. He caught a glimpse of the photograph that sat on the shelf. Such happy times, he thought. Funny how so much can change in several months. The photograph brought a sadness and a yearning for the past, but he shook it from his mind as he downed a glass of cold water.
Since she left he hardly cared to keep the fridge and pantry stocked. Hunger caused his stomach to ache. He hadn’t eaten properly for three days, and his binge the night before didn’t help. He brushed his teeth, changed his t-shirt and left his house.
The restaurant was small and it’s atmosphere relaxed. He sat at the table in the corner, by the window. There were a few conversations happening at surrounding tables. At a table across the modest room, there were a group of girls who sat silently, each in front of their laptop tapping at their keys. They looked foreign.
He then noticed the waitress. She was beautiful. She seemed to radiate a certain energy, which caused him to smile. His eyes moved down to his hands and rested on his wedding band. His smile slowly faded.
The waitress walked over to his table and asked if she could take his order. All of a sudden he noticed he was slightly nervous, as he pulled his gaze from his hands. Their eyes locked and he couldn’t help but smile at her, and she did the same. They shared a fraction of a second of a moment, but a moment nevertheless and he felt so certain she felt the same. She didn’t have to write down his order. She smiled as she assured him his meal wouldn’t take long and casually walked back toward the till. His gaze remained with her and although he couldn’t see her face, he hoped that she was still smiling.
A stranger all of a sudden sat down on the chair opposite him. “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”
The stranger must have been in his mid fifties. He wore a brown coat and fedora. His skin was brown and worn by the sun. His beard seemed somewhat dirty and unkept and the smell of cigarettes clung to him.
Taken by surprise, he asked if he could help the stranger and kindly said he wasn’t looking for company.
“The two of you shared a moment just then. Not many people get to share moments like those too often. It’s in moments such as those when you can tell if someone was meant for you.”
He was taken aback and felt incredibly confused with the stranger, but gave the stranger enough respect as to remain silent and allow him to continue.
“I know love and its different faces when I see it. I saw it just then between you and the waitress.” The stranger paused. “And I also saw it in your sadness when you looked down at your wedding band. Love has many faces and many effects and all of them should be cherished.”
He was surprised at the strangers words but couldn’t falter him. He remained silent but with more interest as he let the stranger talk.
“Many have misplaced the truth about love. Do you want to know the truth about love? The truth is, there is no one person just for you. There is no one soul-mate out there for each of us, there are many and each wears a different face of love. The truth about love is, we can fall in love with anyone. Anyone we choose, we have the ability to love them. What really makes love flourish is the dedication and devotion to that one you choose. With that dedication and devotion comes sacrifice – to see their happiness over yours, which ultimately should be yours, and by investing your devotion, dedication and sacrifice makes that person you chose to love, the one. The special one, who is unlike anyone else in the world, because they have your unique love. That, my friend, is the truth about love.”
Before he could say a word the stranger stood up, tipped his fedora, took a toothpick from the table and walked out the restaurant.
He sat there perplexed at the strange encounter, of which no one else in the restaurant seemed to take notice. Just then the beautiful, radiant waitress brought him his order. He smiled more care-free now as he thanked the waitress. There was a look in her eyes that made him feel love and he wished to be able to return it.
As he ate he thought about the stranger and his words about love. The stranger didn’t necessarily say anything he did not know before, but it felt as though this arbitrary encounter with him brought a bit of clarity to his life. It didn’t make things easier, but he just felt a little more enlightened.
He shared one last more moment with the waitress as he paid for his meal. Her smile made him feel love again as he thanked her and left. The rest of the way home he thought about the stranger, the waitress, his life and of love, but three words resonated within him; dedication, devotion and sacrifice.