The gesture

After missing the 3.00 pm ferry from Harlingen to Terschelling by only a few minutes, I ensconced myself in a chair in the restaurant overlooking the quay. It was almost the last day of the year.

I watched the ferry I should have been on disappear in the fog and, knowing that I had to wait for the fast one that wasn’t due for another few hours, I decided to order some tomato soup as an excuse for me being there. This hour of the day there weren’t many people in the restaurant, just a grumpy couple of young waitresses, both of them wanting to get the rest of the day off, and a waiter, who looked as if he was ready to commit homicide.

For several times he inspected his watch. He rose his eyebrows, for me, a customer, being there on this unusual hour, realized his colleges were still arguing, sighed and reluctantly took my order, hating his job. He went to the kitchen and stayed away for more than 20 minutes. Meanwhile I took the book I had purchased earlier that day out of my bag.

As I was reading the promising cover, I didn’t notice that an elderly couple had entered and taken seats at the table nearest to mine; not until I had opened the book and sniffed up the smell of ink, that is.
I do that sometimes, sniffing up the scent of a new book. I even had my eyes closed, and when I opened them I realized the woman had seen me doing it. Her look was that of a frozen canary.

Embarrassed because she had found out about my secret pleasure I started reading, but every now and then I took a glimpse at the couple. They had put their coats over an empty chair and both stared in a different direction.
She was about sixty, and she obviously had had a life of disappointments. Her mouth was the opposite of a smiley, her face had deep rivers of grieve.

I could only see the mans neck, as he had halfway turned his back at her and explored the foggy sky above the water of the harbour with great interest, although there was nothing to see. He had a stubborn kind of neck that would not turn his head around. No matter what.

It was getting dark. They said nothing. They were married, they wore the same golden rings that had lost their shine.
The soup was brought, I paid the waiter and waited patiently for my change that had to come from deep out of his wallet. Then he turned to the woman and did that thing with his eyebrows again, this time in an asking manner.
“Yes?” he said demandingly.
“Coffee, please,” she replied with a dark brown voice. “Just coffee. No sugar for him. Three lumps for me.”

Her husband hawked but then stayed silent. A few moments later their cups of coffee were sort of thrown on the table by the waiter, and no need to say he could forget about a tip. Again.
An hour went by. Two hours went by. Outside it was totally dark, the gloomy sound of the foghorn was all we heard, that and the noise of pots and pans in the kitchen. Other people started to come in, filling the room with more noises and the smell of wet coats. The man and the woman remained silent.

We could hear the fast ferry entering port. Most people arose, but like the couple that was in no hurry and had no luggage with them, I stayed put, me to do some more reading, as the vessel had to disembark first. Not that I liked the book, it was in fact rather disappointing and I soon looked away again.
Then I saw her right-hand. She placed it on the softly trembling left hand of her husband and he didn’t remove his, as I had expected him to do. This unexpected gesture, implying a sort of tenderness, kept me looking, and all of the sudden her eyes met mine. I was too late to look away and now, again, we shared a secret.
I smiled, she smiled back. Then he briskly stood up, took his coat and walked out of the restaurant. She looked all frozen again and followed him outside. They sort of vanished in opposite direction of the ferry.

I put the book in my bag, waited a bit until I was sure it was about time to go on board and left the restaurant. Outside I saw one of the two waitresses and the waiter. Both apparently had the night off and they had put their arms around each other, laughing quite happily. He looked a lot nicer now.
When I stepped on board, just in time, I suddenly realized: you can’t judge a book by looking at its cover. πŸ˜‰

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Comments on: "The gesture" (9)

  1. I think I’ve read this before, Ina. It’s a very good read. A little gentle criticism: I think your skills have improved so much from the last time you posted it, you could redo it and make it even better. JMO

  2. Problem is I don’t see how lol. I reread but missed the mistakes.
    I put it here as it was on my old blog that is out of business. πŸ™‚

  3. I like this Ina. Could smell the ink of the new book too.

    • Thanks Gracie.
      Smelling books and writing novels, I think the 2 must be related. Yesterday I had to take a break from writing, I got ill in the car and I went to bed real early, slept like 12 hours on a row! Must be my new bp pills, I don’t know what else could have caused it. The old bp pills made me cough, these make my dizzy and sleepy. LOL Why don’t they make meds without side effects??

  4. An example:
    After missing the 3.00 p.m. ferry from Harlingen to Terschelling by only a few minutes, I ensconced myself in a chair in the restaurant overlooking the quay. The view on that late December day was dismal compared to other days

    I watched the ferry I should have been on disappear in the fog, knowing I had to wait for the fast one that wasn’t due for another few hours. I decided to order some tomato soup as an excuse for being there. This hour of the day there wasn’t many people in the restaurant, just a couple of young waitresses, tired and grumpy, appearing to want to get the rest of the day off, and a waiter with a murderous look in his eye.

    Several times the waiter inspected his watch. He rose his eyebrows, for me, a customer, being there on this unusual hour, realized his colleagues were still arguing, sighed and reluctantly took my order, hating his job. He went to the kitchen and stayed away for more than 20 minutes. Meanwhile I took the book I had purchased earlier that day out of my bag.

    As I was reading the promising cover, I didn’t notice an elderly couple had entered and taken seats at the table nearest to mine; not until I had opened the book and sniffed up the smell of ink, that is.
    I do that sometimes, sniffing up the scent of a new book. I even had my eyes closed, and when I opened them I realized the woman had seen me doing it. Her look was that of a frozen canary.

    Embarrassed because she had discovered my secret pleasure, I started reading. Every now and then I peered at the couple over the top of my book. They had put their coats over an empty chair and both sat staring in opposite directions.

    She was about sixty, and her face revealed she had lived a life of disappointments. Her mouth was the opposite of a smiley; her face had deep rivers of grief.

    I could only see the mans neck, as he had halfway turned his back at her and explored the foggy sky above the water of the harbor with great interest, although there was nothing to see. He had a stubborn kind of neck that would not turn his head around. No matter what.

    It was getting dark. They said nothing. They were married; they wore the same golden rings that had lost their shine.

    My soup arrived. I paid the waiter and waited patiently for my change that he dug from deep within his wallet. Then he turned to the woman and did that thing with his eyebrows again, curtly raising them, this time in an asking manner.
    β€œYes?” he said demandingly.
    β€œCoffee, please,” she replied with a dark brown voice. β€œJust coffee. No sugar for him. Three lumps for me.”

    Her husband hawked, but then stayed silent. A few moments later their cups of coffee were sort of thrown on the table by the waiter, and, needless to say, he could forget about a tip. Again.
    An hour went by. Then two more. Outside it was totally dark, the gloomy sound of the foghorn was all we heard; that and the noise of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen. Other people started to come in, filling the room with more noises and the smell of wet coats.

    The man and the woman remained silent.

    We could hear the fast ferry entering port. Most people arose, but like the aging couple that was in no hurry and had no luggage with them, I stayed put. The vessel had to disembark first. More time for me and my inked pleasure. Not that I liked the book, it was, in fact, rather disappointing. I soon looked away again.

    Then I saw her right-hand. She placed it on the softly, trembling left hand of her husband. He didn’t remove his as I had expected him to do. This unexpected gesture, implying a sort of tenderness, kept me looking. All of the sudden her eyes met mine. It was too late to look away. Again, we shared a secret.
    I smiled; she smiled back. Then he briskly stood up, took his coat and walked out of the restaurant. She looked frozen again, but followed him outside. They vanished into the darkness of the foggy evening in the opposite direction of the ferry.

    I put the book in my bag and waited until I was sure it was about time to go on board and left the restaurant. Outside I saw one of the two waitresses and the waiter. Both apparently had the night off and they had put their arms around each other, laughing quite happily. He looked a lot nicer now.

    When I stepped on board, and just in time, I suddenly realized: you can’t judge a book by looking at its cover.

    It just changes it up a bit. Same story, just a little different.

    • Wow Thinker, you did a nice job there πŸ™‚ “There wasn’t many people, ” is that correct, it is plural?

      • Oops! Lol! Weren’t, you are correct.

        I, personally, am more interested in you in this piece. The smell of the ink, the boredom from the book, the arduous wait, why you thought the couple was unhappy in the first place…you get my drift.

  5. Yesh, I really like that smell of ink thing! I like that more that the gestures…it says a lot.

    • I hope it doesn’t say I am an ink junk lol. But digital does have a disadvantage this way πŸ™‚

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