When she walked into the threshold, she stepped into the unlit “World of Clink Clanks”. She looked down and could make out the outline of what she knew were her hands. She flexed them and gasped as her gold ring glittered suspended in mid-air.
The room was silent except for the occasional throat clearing and the clackety of ceramic on ceramic, which seemed to come from somewhere beyond her vision.
On one corner stood a man behind a counter with a light bulb over his head. He seemed out of place, shuffling with his foot, wringing his hands nervous to get away. She wouldn’t have noticed him if it hadn’t been for the light, but she could see his look. It was a familiar, the look of a man on his first day in a job. He flashed her a warm smile as she approached him, and she returned it without hesitation.
She felt none of the warmth herself, though. It bothered her that the inside mimicked the darkness that enveloped the outdoors. And it didn’t help that the street lights had died.
She steadied herself long enough to walk into the range of light coming from the counter. The employee seemed confident and asked what he could get her. She looked around the counter at all her favourites: mustard, ketchup, parmesan, salami, sausages, and on the other side, five kinds of bread.
“I’ll have a hot dog with parmesan and extra mustard, please.” He nodded and asked her to wait. And as he gestured towards his right, she noticed a small table lit with a single candle. It was just enough for her to figure the outline of a round table draped with a red cloth. She took her place at the edge of the seat. The next moment, the young man at the counter came over with her hot dog, placed it in front of her, and left to man his station.
A chilly breeze grazed her ear, making her shiver. She should’ve stayed home and made instant ramen. Her stomach growled again. As she signed, reaching for her meal, blinding lights flooded the entire restaurant, and Sinatra began singing “The way you look tonight” in the background. By the time her eyes adjusted to the lights, her best friend had come from nowhere and stood before her. She now saw the restaurant was empty and much larger than she had imagined. About thirty round tables lay vacant, expecting to groan with food. She raised her eyebrows at him. He was her best friend and her longest friend. He smiled, his blue eyes glittering with joy.
“I don’t want you to eat alone ever again.”
And he went down on a knee.