the back room
"I'm gonna take my break." Dante sighs, wiping his brow.
a slight nod was returned, a mouth
upturned in a barely perceptible grin.
he walks toward the time clock
stuffing his gloves into his back pocket.
he's approaching the domain of the unknown
and anxious anticipation of a million unspoken words.
a grin crosses his face
in the usual seemingly
although such a grin for him
is anything BUT spontaneous,
extremely organized and genuine.
his usual brisk walk towards
the back room is accompanied by the regular
inward melody of music
sung softly under hushed breath
interrupted often by a smile
or a nod
or a greeting.
life is good.
Beatrice is in the back room.
Upon noticing Dante,
she immediately sits up a bit
as if shocked back into reality
from whatever daydream she was in.
Dante sits down, squirming in his seat as
his heart starts beating wildly.
Dante thinks that Beatrice is by far
the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
much to the dismay of poor Beatrice,
foolish Dante had blurted it out to her.
everything was different.
Dante sets his lunch out and begins
I'm sure if you asked him
he would not be able to recall
what he had for lunch that day.
occasionally the two work up the courage
to glance nervously at one another.
The silence is deafening.
15 minutes turn into an hour
Beatrice has long ago retreated into a text message.
Dante keeps bringing his hand nervously
up to his heart.
"Because she's not like the others."
another hour goes by,
people come and go
some sit down for a while
some stare at the floor
some do nothing but
check the time over and over again.
entire lives are lived
in and out of that backroom.
they grow old,
they live and die.
in fast motion the world around
Dante and Beatrice moves.
life passes them by.
one day turns into two
Beatrice and Dante remain seated
squirming in their seats for
all the unspoken words
and the occasional glance.
a week passes
Dante oscillates constantly between two resolves:
Firstly, the desire to walk out
thereby ending the discomfort of them both.
Secondly, a refusal to abandon her
and everything that she represents.
with a deep sigh
he stares at the wall
pondering what to do.
"if only I could take her by the hand," he thinks
"we could walk beneath the host of heaven"
"we could lay beneath the moon and stars"
"and laugh and tell stories"
"I would ask her all about her adventures"
"and where she has been"
"and what she has done"
Dante begins to grow tired.
he lays his head on the table and closes his eyes.
images of Beatrice pass through his
endless questions and curiosity.
"what does a real woman smell like?"
he breathes in deeply through his nostrils
"what does she like to do?"
he absentmindedly runs a fingertip over the pitted tabletop
"why does she sometimes look so sad?"
"if only I could make her smile....or laugh..."
he bolts up
as if zapped by
1.21 gigawatts of white hot electricity
"that's it!" he proclaims
a metaphorical finger in the air
"confidence, and boldness, and laughter"
"to take the place of"
"fear, and anxiety, and awkwardness."
"smiles to replace frowns"
"words to replace silence"
"warmth to replace coldness"
"connection to replace loneliness"
"closeness to replace distance"
Dante rises to his feet.
it's a small step
he has been walking
in this direction for months now.
He approaches solitary Beatrice and with
a single deft motion
takes a seat at her table.
clearing his throat a bit, he says
(in near perfect confidence):
"who is a bunnies favorite actor?"
"I don't know...." she says.
"Rabbit De Niro."
from the look on the face of Beatrice
Dante has just told her, by far,
thee corniest joke
-ever- to be uttered
in the hallowed recesses of the back room
by one such as Dante,
to one such as Beatrice.
a slender hand to a mouth upturned
in a slight grin
simply elated with himself
staggers up from the chair
turns tail and skips toward the door
the biggest smile on his face
ever to be smiled in the entire world.
"wait!" Beatrice calls after him.
"you forgot your backpack!"
still grinning from ear to ear
he takes the bag from her hand
and with a slight bow
turns and bounds out the door.
he skips all the way home
singing and dancing
his way down the street.
what does tomorrow hold?
we shall see.