Dressed in her Sunday’s best, she sat alone next to the window watching the sun climb over the whitening tops of the snow-laden trees. The morning light drew back the lines in her face, and her skin was delicate and translucent. For a moment she is a vision of the woman she used to be, and yet when she bowed her head in prayer, the shadows marked the trials of her years. Smoothing out a wrinkle in her pastel-blue skirt, she laid a paper napkin neatly in her lap. Then clasping the cup of tea in front of her with both hands, she carefully lifted it to her lips and sipped at it gently. She smiled quietly at the room around her.
The waitress was sitting anxiously at the counter preparing menus for the Sunday rush, and the bus boy was joking with the cook through the serving window. In the back booth, two disgruntled farmers were discussing the precarious condition of the winter wheat over a neglected short-stack and two black coffees. The front door chimed and a middle-aged couple walked in followed by a brisk wind. The man was carrying a paper under one arm as his wife, still clutching a church bulletin, clung to his other for warmth. They stamped the mud from their galoshes onto the entry mat and shook the chill from their shoulders.
“Good morning John. Dorothy,” said the waitress standing up. “Will you be having coffee this morning?” She snatched the pot from the burner. “Yes, I do believe we will Patricia,” the man replied. “Thank you.” As the diner started to fill with the after-church crowd, the couple removed their coats and made their way to their regular table. The waitress motioned to the bus boy to let the cook alone and then moved quickly up the next aisle with coffee and menus so that she could greet them at their table. “As you know, we’re still serving breakfast,” she said, getting to the table first. “But I have the lunch specials made out and on the menu.”
“Why, good morning Edna,” said the man, stopping to greet the old woman. “You’re looking awfully fashionable this morning.”
The woman looked up at him blankly, and then smiled brightly. “Yes–yes it is a beautiful day.” She paused and looked out the window. “Yes it is, isn’t it?”
Trying to be patient, the waitress stood at their table, menus in place and pen poised to take their order. Looking out across the room she saw the tables were filling up quickly. “We have the hot roast beef on special today, John.” She prompted. “It comes with a vegetable and a salad of course,” she continued. “And we have pecan pie, fresh from the bakery only yesterday.” The man looked over at the waitress, dropped his eyes and looked back at the old woman. “Yes–yes it is a beautiful day, Edna.” He smiled. “How have you been? We haven’t seen you in church in quite some time.”
“Yes, it is quite smart isn’t it?” She smiled, brushing down her collar. “This is my Easter dress. I wear it every Easter Sunday.”
“Yes, as I was saying, you look quite becoming.”
“Yes,” she said softly. “It is, isn’t it?”
Her eyes wandered away from the man and she turned her attention to the window. The pear trees in her grandfather’s orchard were white with blossoms, and her laughter echoed kindly through their limbs as she ran barefoot through the garden of her youth. The morning light drew back the lines in her face. Her skin was delicate and translucent. For a moment she was a vision of the woman she used to be, and yet when she bowed her head in prayer, the shadows marked the trials of her years. Clasping the cup of tea in front of her with both hands, she lifted it to her lips and sipped at it gently.