New Orleans, St. Ann Street

I sit across from the couple by the window. She is young, and full of energy and happy. She wears a black dress with red cherries and I can tell it’s the kind of dress that took her some time to choose. You can see her, right? Back in her apartment, casting off the green dress on the chair and then tossing the less form fitting, flowy black one across the bed? You can see her, debating which shoes to wear; flats or heels. She knows flats are the smart choice given the uneven streets, but heels make her legs look amazing. You watch as she paces back and forth, a different shoe on each foot, holding each out in front of the floor length mirror, trying to decide. She doesn’t ask him which looks better, not because he won’t give her an opinion, he’s totally the kind of guy that would give an opinion. She just wants to make this choice on her own tonight. She picks the heels. It’s a good choice and she is confident now, sitting comfortably across from him, free from her previous uncertainty. Her confidence is vibrant and attractive, and you can tell from the way he looks at her that they are very much in love.

It’s a small restaurant, in the heart of the quarter surrounded by old buildings and gas street lamps. They sit at a table by the window, dressing the restaurant for those passing by; those recovering from a day of drinking and excess with lent and ashes. He notices she is low on wine and he pours her more from the bottle with a twist, just so. They laugh and tell stories and eat. They are relaxed and happy, enjoying each other’s company.

She rests her hand in the middle of the table. It’s a fine hand, beautiful and thin, laying on the white linen between them. She sets it past the bread and the carefully poured wine; past her mostly untouched pasta and shrimp dish. She rests her hand on the table, crossing the expanse that separates them. He pours more wine, cuts into his food, and smiles at her and they laugh. It isn’t that he rejects her hand, he just does not take it.

I want to pull him aside. I want to tell him, as we pass each other on the way to the bathroom. I want to tell him to take her hand. And that’s even more than he needs to do. Just reach out and touch it. Reassure her. I want to shake him a bit and tell him its plain to see this is what she is asking for. Just the briefest touch. I don’t say this, of course. In case you are concerned. I never would. He would think me intrusive. Or that I was a crazy person. He would tell me there is nothing wrong between them and they are very much in love. And all of this would be correct. I’d have nothing to say back to him. He is right. Everything is fine.

After a few minutes, her hand slowly retreats. She brings it to her hair, adjusting a stray lock or brushing it back past her ear, it doesn’t really matter which. It was one of those two. She smiles at him and listens as he tells a story about a friend at work who didn’t get a promotion that he was supposed to get. They are happy and drink their wine and eat their food. They are content and in love.  Anyone can see it.