A Story From a Past Life

April 21, 2008
By Shelley Chen, San Diego, CA

Every morning,
He walks to the diner
Orders the same meal,
Every morning.

Sausage and eggs
Turned into “the usual”
Recognized by the lady
From across the counter

Everyday, she is there
Her stained apron,
Depressed expression,
Trying to wipe away her life
With the rag off the counter.

She never says a word
Other than that phrase.
But he sees her every morning
With her lipstick across her face.

It’s hard to leave this diner,
All run down and old
Thinking maybe,
Just maybe
That he will do something with his life.

Going home, to nothing
Going home, to dust
Makes him think of
The lady from the diner

What does she do?
After she leaves that place?
No family to go home to
No dog to lick her face?

So then what does she do
With her life,
Still far from death?
What was her dream?
Before it was all thrown away?

He lies at home
It’s night, it’s cold.
But he can’t sleep
His thoughts running wild

Thoughts of his future,
Of love, of life.
Thoughts of the lady
At the diner,
Of hopes, of dreams

The next morning
He goes back to the diner,
Sits across from the lady,
But never noticed the wrinkles,
Across her face,
Around her brows.

Never did he notice,
The sadness in her eyes
Or the worry on her face
The tension in her fingers
And the shake in her arms

But yet, still
He doesn’t say anything
No comment on the weather
No talk about their lives

But he still cannot resist
Not knowing about her world
Where was she from
And what was her story?

Still, each night
He goes back
To his broken apartment
The windows never closing
The rent never paid
But this night, just this night
He sleeps, he dreams
And in the dream,
He is naked,
And in a white building.
Then falls,
Into a black hole

That’s all to the dream
Falling, and falling
Into the abyss
Did this mean something?
A clue to anything?

He wakes,
The next morning,
With confusion in his mind.
But still, the habit,
He walks down to the diner.

He sits, but it is not her
Who takes his order.
A young woman,
Probably 25,
Greets him happily
With a smile.

“Where is the other woman?”
He asks, he demands.
This new lady,
Her smile suddenly wiped off,
A frown emerging on her face.

“She died. From Lupus.”
She finally announced.
Then attempted a smile,
But walks away.

He sits there,
Processing this through his head.
He felt like crying,
Sobbing hysterically,
Like a boy who has lost his mother.
Time passed,
Customers changed
But he still sat there.
Right there
That counter
Was his only memory of her.

The new waitress came back
And asked if he wanted to order
He shook his head
But had many questions

“What was her name?”
“Gretchen Myers.”
“How old was she?”
“Family? Loved ones?”
“This diner was all she had.”

Finally, he stood up
Walked out of the diner
Out onto the street
The sun blazing down his back
In front of cars,
With no feeling.

Angry drivers honked
And screamed
But he kept walking
Into the day
Past the diner
And into the world.

He felt as if
A part of him was missing
Like his soul wasn’t complete
Gretchen Meyers had such
An unexpected great impact
On him, this man,
Of the ordinary world.

Gretchen Meyers,
This waitress from the diner.
What is Lupus?

He asked the old man
Draped in blankets,
Dressed in rags
From the street corner

The old man told him
Lupus attacks the immune system
Sometimes causing death.
He asked the old man
How he knew this
The old man’s eyes
Welled up with tears,
“My children passed away from Lupus.”

Day turned to night
He walked his way home,
That ungodly apartment.
His thoughts never going away
From Gretchen Meyers,
47, of that diner.

He laid at his bed
Not sleeping, once again
Gretchen Meyers,
This Gretchen Meyers,
Will keep a place in his heart.

She didn’t do much,
She didn’t say much,
And even so,
She inspired him
To now be the most
He can be

She was forever his motivation,
His guardian, his hope.
His one reason
For the things
He could ever soon accomplish.

If only, just once
She was able to see
How much he will soon grow
Into a man
Into a person
Could he ever be finally happy.

Fifteen years passed
He was now a business consultant.
Quite rich,
Quite successful,
With a house,
With a wife.
Still everyday,
He remembered Gretchen Meyers.
She was the little spark
That was needed to ignite his life.

He went back
To that town
And visited that diner.

That diner,
His only home,
His past life.
That counter,
Where he spend the days
Those days,
Wasted away.

But not entirely wasted,
He met his angel.
He reached his peak.
Forever will Gretchen Meyers
Stay in his heart.

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