It all started with a woman as many things do. Her name was Glenda. She would forever be imprinted into Gary’s memory not for her long-standing place in his life but instead for the short period he knew her. The day began like any other as he went to Cindy Q’s and sat in the middle of the restaurant. He didn’t look at any of the patrons but instead found his eyes peering at the Times crossword. As he looked upon the first clue that requested another word for trainer he quickly wrote the word teacher to the page. While writing on the wrinkled paper, a woman sat down beside him.
“Excuse me, do I know you?” he asked. Glenda quickly shook her head as she whistled to the waitress and hollered for more bread. Gary huffed and puffed over her place at the table, but Glenda didn’t mind him as she pulled the crossword from his hand.
“No! Stop that!” Gary insisted.
“Now my momma taught me two things well more than two things, but the two things that are pertinent to this situation are this: one, eating alone festers loneliness and two, crosswords are a waste of time. Time should not be wasted. Time on this earth should be enjoyed.”
Suddenly, Glenda flipped through the newspaper until she found the obituary section. There she pointed to a short article about a woman named Mary. “I mean look this woman was dying of cancer and yet she worked up the courage to go skydiving. I hope she enjoyed it ‘cause she’s dead now.”
Gary folded his arms to his chest. “Well clearly your mother never taught you about manners, did she?” Gary asked.
“She did. I just chose to ignore her. You see, manners are for people who are afraid of awkwardness, and I’m not afraid. So what if people think I’m strange or weird. That is who I am. Get over it.”
“So your not going to move to another table?” Gary inquired.
“Nope,” Glenda insisted, “you’re stuck with me for now.”
Gary stared at the woman in front of him as he asked the question he had been pondering since she had first sat down: “Why?”
Glenda smiled.“Oh everyone needs someone every once in a while even the people who are too scared to admit it.”
Gary laughed, and an anxious laugh it was. He hesitated to believe such a comment, but as Glenda spoke in length about her dreams to be an artist, he wished to know more about her. But the more questions he asked about her past, her dreams, her ambitions, it only lead to more inquiries about himself. What kind of life did he want? Does he even enjoy the everyday special? Or perhaps the casual life of man is only special if there is someone to enjoy it with?
As the morning faded to the early evening, the two unlikely friends started saying their goodbyes to one another. Glenda stood up first and handed the precious newspaper back to Gary without hesitation.
“Here it’s time you have this back. But just a little tip for three across you may want to think outside the box,” Glenda reported, before disappearing into the chaos of the day.
Gary quickly flipped to the crossword puzzle to find an eleven letter word for unavoidable. He thought for a moment and then wrote in the space provided: SPONTANEOUS.