The cafe at the end of the world

The nights are very lonely in this part of the Earth. The streets are nearly always empty by day and are empty at night, save for the occasional drunk yelling and staggering at bus stops. This city, or rather, town, is beautiful by night. As I watch the lights come on in the buildings outside my window, I feel a stab of sentiment. I walked to the cafe, the other day, and was glad to find that the Waitress wasn’t there. After last time, I felt as if I had invaded in some private space of her life. I sat at a corner table, after hanging up my overcoat at the coat rack. I ordered a plate of lasagna and waited. I remember the small food joints from back home. They were small rooms under people’s houses where food and drink could be bought. The food was often cheaper and more delicious than anything that the town’s restaurants had on offer.

I settled myself comfortably on the chair, took out a book and read. I enjoyed the soft music they had on and was glad that the Waitress wasn’t there. I wondered where she was, though, and I wondered if she was going to be hit tonight as well. I decided that it wasn’t in my power to do anything about it. Like the many gross injustices around the world that I ignore, I chose to ignore this one as well. I ignored it, resigned myself to its reality and decided to focus on my lasagna.

I feel a cruel and heartless swine for my attitude. It is careless and ignorant but I know that it is genuine. The cafe started filling up with patrons and the waitress who was serving me got busy. I had noticed her standing at a table writing furiously. My guess then was that it was something from school, or University. I felt a stab of pity. Its funny how I feel intense emotions that barely last a second. My feelings are interjections, mostly, to my rationality. I felt proud of the woman who served me. She was trying to improve herself, and that, to me, is the greatest effort. Self-improvement is the path forward, it is often said, and I remember working for a, ahem, “analytics firm” and thinking about my college application. I continued working towards my education and learning useful tricks. I can, for example, fix a generator and cook.

This cafe is the high point in my social life. I don’t talk to anyone, and I don’t talk about anyone. I find that I have nothing to say, and no one to say it to. The closest intimacy that I feel is in this cafe, where I see people with their families, girlfriends or boyfriends, and kids. I can see the pity in their eyes as they see me, a lone foreigner in the corner of the cafe. I looked up to see a family of two adults (parents) and 3 children. They looked happy and the children seemed to be enjoying their pizza. The two parents were looking at me from across the room and this continued for some time. I looked at them and they realized that I knew that they were staring. I smiled and nodded, continued with my lasagna. The woman’s expression was that of pity, and the man too looked as if he saw in me the solitude he was glad not to have. I felt nothing when I saw their little family except gladness. I am not one to project my character and preferences on someone else, and I don’t project my bitterness either. I was happy for them, but I am not sorry for myself in any way.

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