Waiting

JOSHUA ALLEN

I sit here, at a corner table in the agreed-upon restaurant (Martelli’s), waiting for Janine. I’ve already gone through two baskets of bread and what I estimate to be a twenty-four ounce Coke. I have that sickly lightness of being, like a sugar-rush, and each and every part of my body wants to run in different directions.

She knows she’s late. She’s not the kind of person who would be, say, reading a book in her living room – but there I go, assuming she has a living room and she reads books. Assumptions are the ground upon which the devil’s playground is built. But she is not the kind of person who would be doing whatever she was doing in whatever place she was doing it, and look up (or down, I suppose) at a clock or a watch and say, “Oh my, where did the time go?”

This assumption I know to be true because, near the end of the workday, I can see her eyes from across the office grabbing for the clock, as if witnessing the passing of time would make said passing go faster.

She is seventeen minutes late. I know this because I’m looking at my watch, which was my father’s until he gave it to me as a graduation gift after my time at Columbia. Not the most grandiose or extravagant gift, I know. My roommate for two years got a Jaguar after graduating with top honours and his girlfriend, who I had dreams of at night and thought of extensively in my morning showers, received a small apartment in L.A., where she had landed her first job as the Assistant to the Undersecretary of the Deputy Director of the California Forest Conversation. Or maybe it was the Undersecretary to the Assistant Deputy Director of the California…

The waiter is here again. He is growing impatient. I can tell by the flaring of his nostrils and the percussive tap-tap-tap of the pen on his white pad. No, thank you. I am not ready to order yet. He asks when I might be ready to order. I might be ready to order when my mind makes the decision of what to order. He leaves.

Janine is twenty-two minutes late. She said she would be here when I asked her yesterday after work. I walked up to her – the space between our desks never seemed so long – and introduced myself as the intern. I became distracted by her lips, full and red with lipstick, but I recovered and I was an intelligent, confident, and witty conversationalist, bursting at my seams with charm.

Before I could say Parcheesi, she agreed to meet me here, at the agreed-upon restaurant, twenty-four minutes ago. She demonstrated all the signs of feminine captivation – scratching her hair, blinking a lot, her mouth like a flower blossom, curling around her face. She was putty in the palm of my hand.

The waiter is back. Why is he back so soon? Would the customer be ready to order? No, the customer is still undecided. There is quite a long line of people waiting for this table. Let them wait. I am waiting too, you know? I’ve waited long enough. I’ve been waiting longer than any of them.


Joshua Allen is a sophomore at Indiana University Bloomington. He enjoys puns, arguing with friends, and finding the best pasta dishes wherever he goes.

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