It was the first night where she had not had a crying child in her lap. The first meal she was going to eat in ages at a place that did not have a child friendly menu. Sienna did not mind that the guy was late. She was proud of herself for taking this important step. Sienna’s life was in the shadows since her second husband had left her for younger pastures, a year ago. She hated the fact she had become the cliché single black mother. She refused to fall into the same fate as so many before her. Clichés were created by repeating previous mistakes. She had repeated that mistake once already and paid the price. Her older children had urged her out tonight for the date that seemed to be arranged by some friends.
The man she was to meet had come with a high amount of praise. He was a recently single man, who had a steady job and was willing to overlook a woman with several children. Sienna thought it was a fairy tale the way he was described. She was ready for her prince charming after the previous princes changed into toads when she had let her guard down. She just hoped he could overlook the few extra pounds she carried. She was willing to give her all for the right man, Sienna was hoping with all the praise he would be it.
“Ma’am, I am sorry but are you ready to order?” The young waiter tried using his manners to expedite the table opening up for awaiting guests.
“I am still waiting for my date.” A smile and polite reply to the young man, who struggled with the directive of his manager, was her response once again. Each time she was asked it was growing more obvious she had been stood up. “Let’s give him ten more minutes then I will give you your table back.” Sienna wanted to be rescued by her prince-to-be but the outlook was he was just another toad. Hope was all she had left, along with a small amount of bread crumbs from snacking while she waited.
The waiter nodded to her proposal. He had witnessed the scene way too many times in his few months on the job. He knew ultimately the woman’s heart would be broken. He would give her as much time as she would need to come to terms with the reality of what was happening. The waiter did not expect a big financial reward for the small amount of mercy.
Sienna waited a few minutes over twice what she had requested. She took the napkin that had taken a place in her lap. The cloth wiped the crumbs off her face. She had been stood up and forgotten without even a courtesy warning. Names and slurs had been directed toward her direction many times over her lifetime. Today, she truly felt worthless. The act by her prince-to-be made her feel like a troll that needed slain not the princess that needed rescued. She stood, reached into her purse and produced several dollars for the young man who had shown her mercy and then departed. Under her breath Sienna swore this would be the last time.
“Some days I am so glad we did not have to go through that.” Jess watched the scene of the woman leave. She knew from the moment the waiter first interrupted her wait, she had been stood up. The brown eyes looked upon her with a bit of pity. She too was a mother and could not imagine what life would be like if Harold had not been with her. The woman’s clothes were a bit older than most on the dating scene. She probably did not get a budget of excess money, if she had kids, to buy proper date worthy clothes. “Do you ever wonder if our paths went differently, would we have found each other?”
Harold leaned over and lifted his wife’s chin. The movement brought their eyes to meet. It was a cheating way to create a moment that he had picked up watching her movies. “I promise you our paths could not go different. We have always been on the same one.” That line and a few more would make sure she remembered this celebratory dinner more than she would remember the woman. Harold did not even watch the woman leave as he wanted to show Jess the evening was about them not strangers.
“So why are we out again tonight?” Jess had done as instructed and hired a babysitter for the Friday evening. Harold had not told her why they were celebrating just that they need time to do so.
“They hired new guys at the plant.” The news would not seem out of the ordinary for the couple who felt their future threatened, when the rumors of the plant closing started, it was welcome news. “I think we will be just fine buying the house. With the plant staying, I am bound to get a promotion. A promotion equals more money. More money means a better life.”
Jess was glad they could shop for a new home. The family had expanded past the capacity of the current two bedroom, one bathroom dwelling. “That is good news, but I am not sure that is worth a budget busting dinner.” She had to be the practical one to counter his big dreams. The life they were heading to, promised happier times. It still needed to be tempered. “Seriously did you see how much a glass of wine cost here?”
“Then don’t order wine.” The solution seemed simple enough. It was probably not the answer she wanted but Harold was in the mood to celebrate. It was more than the new hires. He wanted to celebrate something finally going their way. “Or what you could do is relax, enjoy the evening, and know we will be making enough money soon enough to eat here more often.”
“More often?” A smirk crossed her face as she could see the twinkle of joy in his eyes where doubt had once made a home. “And what will we do with the kids?” She had to remind him that their fantasy night was only temporarily without the others in their family.
“I could see the younger ones growing to like steak.” Harold said with a playful smile. “Besides, they have all kinds of things.”
“Did you see how much things are here and how little our kids eat? Do you really want to pay this much for leftovers?” Reality was where Jess needed to guide him back. She really enjoyed the ability to run to this place and celebrate a future where things go right. She liked the idea of a date night that did not crush the budget.
“Jess, you are not seeing how much we will save.” Harold grasped her had. The tone was serious.
“How much we will save?” She was intrigued wondering how dinner at a multiple star restaurant would save them money. “You do know the number next to the item is the price right?”
“Yes, I do know that. Though I was kind of hoping it was the quantity.” The childish smirk flashed, hoping to start a crack in her serious attitude. “We will save money by taking them now before they develop a taste for your high priced wine.”
Jess just stared with a loss of words. The loss remained until their food arrived. She had to admit not only was the food delicious but she liked the idea of not having to clean up or argue with kids to do the dishes. She looked forward to the day she could count on this weekly if not daily.