Where Were You?
By Dina Hashem
Where were you? I waited at the coffee shop. I pulled a chair out from a wood table, its rings stained by rings of saucers of friends who'd chatted above wisps of visible air. Friends like you and I, only you weren't there.
I waited as a waiter asked if he could bring me an espresso or tea, but "Oh, none for me;" I was waiting for a friend, would be rude to indulge before he could even attend. "Ask me in a minute or two, or three."
I waited with legs unfolded, pitched up, and neatly braided. A bell above the front door made fanfare for a man who moved like a tide of rust color hair, denim pockets full of whats-its galore. I wondered if I could love him while I began to hate you, as I waited there.
I felt the time pass through my center; smelled the scents of scones and sweets nestled cutely together, temptations to my patient nature as I began to question, "Will I wait this way forever?" The door's bell answered as another stranger made way to enter.
I waited with warmth on my skin, for you. For times we sat in bars that needed us out, when we walked by our sides on sidewalks. Me, maybe you too, wondering what we might be about. But now I wondered if we, now, were through. I waited as my hair fell out. My skin cracked too, like a soft clay pot put too early in the kiln; or a statue, like a quarter in a well, once wishing at gods who dispensed good and ill, but now buried in some forgotten hill. I waited as my eyes turned white. The leaves all turned from green to red, for you; for me all shapes made shadows of light. I waited as my tongue turned dry, as all my senses failed to give good notice of you passing by, if you even would arrive. I waited ‘til my breath let go. Poor strangers must have laid me in a stretcher, or an old sack; I wouldn't know. Maybe I've passed to some heavenly realm; or somewhere far worse could be true. Or maybe I float on, mixing with the steams and sounds of this shop, continually, forever asking: where were you?
Dina Hashem is a writer and stand-up comedian from New Jersey. She studied English at Rutgers University, and now writes and performs in New York City. Dina has been a featured comic at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Boston Comedy Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival, and Burbank Comedy Festival. Her writing has been featured on the websites of Comedy Central's Indecision Forever, CC Insider, and Nickelodeon.