Het Afscheid by Erik Suidman
She had been eager, near desperate to make contact and though I knew her tale was sure to be heartbreaking I allowed her my ear. Her words coming at first in little burst of anxious too light chit-chat, ‘I eat here all the time and still I swear this is best the food has ever tasted. It could be that I’m starving but then the food is always good here. I’m so glad to find you open and that it is you with your kind smile instead of one of the other curt girls...’
All the while she eat in quick tidy bites her sad eyes darting around seeking mind as I cleaned the counter and nodded politely.
There was mention of the weather and some talk of Chinese restaurant that were traditionally open over Christmas holidays but could no longer be counted on but the cinema had been open all day. Even if the kids were rude and foreign, texting on iphones while she offered polite smile.
Hers in the end had been a typical enough story, full of her love for a man who eventually disappointed her. He by moving on to a younger woman and starting the family she never believed they had enough money to begin. ‘I found out he adopted her child and brought it from China. I was sick about it. I kept thinking how he could afford it when she was no more than a nail girl at one of those awful salons on the Danforth.’
There was also a bit of madness about her mother, a frail dying imperfect who still held her approval from our poor now lonely dear. Calling her on Boxing Day to rave about her brother’s efforts to make Christmas nice, ‘But Mom, it was me who cooked the too spicy mashed potatoes and it was me who cleaned up while he ran off to his girlfriend’s so if there is any thanks to be handed out it should be for me.’
This she bellowed while I rushed back and forth from kitchen to dining room setting up for the next day. The irritated chef hissing at me his displeasure, ‘You are too nice. We have been closed forty-five minutes already. Tell her she must leave we have our own sad stories.’
By now she had without encouragement moved on to laments of pass talents and ambitions. ‘I use to write these great songs that everybody wanted to sing but I didn’t want to part with them for I wanted to sing them myself but I have arthritis which made playing the guitar near impossible and now I’m desperate to sell them no one wants them.’
I said sometime affirming and cliché like, ‘You have been made stronger for having survived it.’ Total bullshit but it seemed to have done the trick for she smiled though her tears seem to be just beneath the surface she braved it as if to reward me for allowing her to bleed without judgement. It instantly made me feel rotten for not sitting and allowing her my full attention. She left shortly after this and I hugged her wishing her every happiness.
My love my care,