Nicole stood as the metro doors slid open. She squeezed past the commuters and stepped out onto the platform, holding her black evening gown off the grimy floor. Her heels clacked loudly through the crowded terminal as she followed the flood of humanity out into the frigid, cloudless, winter night. “Left, then two blocks, walk slow and carefully” she thought to herself as she clacked her way down the salted sidewalk.
It was a short walk from the train station to Nicole’s destination, the premiere French restaurant in the city. As the gritty sidewalk transformed into a cobbled walkway, she remembered what this would cost. She sold her college textbooks and saved her last two paychecks from the bowling alley for this dinner alone. The evening gown wasn’t new, but black always works. Her heels belonged to a friend, her formal handbag belonged to another friend. As a college student, she didn’t have much need for a car, which meant she had to take the train here on Friday night after finals.
After a few minutes, and without slipping on the ice, Nicole passed the valet and entered the sparkling, warm, candle-lit, restaurant. Upon noticing the hostess’ appraising glance straying to the slightly damp dress hem, Nicole walked towards her, holding her shoulders back with her chin raised. “Lewis, 7:30 for one please.”
“Yes, the Maitre ‘d made an exception.”
“In that case, follow me ma’am.”
Nicole glided through the crowded dining room, around the mahogany chairs, past the chandeliers and sconces, towards the private room.
“Is this alright?” the hostess inquired, showing Nicole to a circular table set for one facing out from the back wall.
“It’s perfect, thank you.” Nicole replied while seating herself.
She had already pored over the menu online, and knew exactly what she wanted for each of the six courses. Later on that evening, while silently enjoying her seared Norwegian salmon, another waiter asked if she was waiting for someone.
“No, I thought I’d take myself out for dinner this time.”
“I can’t believe a beautiful girl like you is all alone.” He replied, flirtatiously.
Nicole looked back at her plate, turning away from the boorish man. “Just wanted to eat the perfect meal in peace.”
“Alright then— Let me know if you need anything.”
“I will, thank you.”
The rest of the meal passed without interruption, just as Nicole envisioned. She trudged the two blocks back to the train station, no longer caring if her gown touched the dirty snow underfoot. Smiling the entire time at how divine it had been to have that experience. Alone.