A Joyful Silence

Jonathon Daniel Brooks

The silence could be sipped with a spoon. It could not be cut with a knife. No, the silence wasn’t a thick uncomfortable moment full of thick uncomfortable things which ought to be said but were not being said. The silence wasn’t a strip steak. The silence was more like soup. Chicken noodle soup to be precise. It was, and is, and will always be the food of comfort. Of friendship. Of comfortable silences between two people who are comfortable with one another enough to share silence. The woman and the man were soaking in the silence.

She opened a packet of sugar, tipped it into her coffee cup, and stirred. He contemplated the sugar factor and the impact it would most certainly make on his coffee. Then he reached for the little silver-like cream container. The sugar was out of the question for him. She considered the cream for her cup of coffee. She picked up the silver-like cream container and tipped it in the direction of the coffee. The coffee remained black. The cream container was empty. He had used up all the cream for one single cup of coffee! She was full of kindness and decided not to confront or attack him over his abuse of a good thing that was intended to be shared. Perhaps it was an accidental abuse. Perhaps his head was in the clouds. The waitress came back to their booth. She noticed the empty silver-like cream container.

“More cream?” she asked. The man nodded with a smile. When more cream came to the table the woman looked the man in the eyes and saw a pure innocence about them. Then she looked down slightly and took note of a friendly mischievous grin.

And friends are what they were to each other. One might wonder whether they were old friends or new friends or somewhere in the middle. The answer is it really doesn’t matter at all how long the man and woman have been friends. Because they are good friends. And this is what matters as they sip the silence and the coffee.

The all-night diner was genuinely frequented by all sorts of different characters. Especially at 1:00 am. The current cast of characters included (but was not limited to) a punk rock kid with bright green hair, a middle-aged obese couple, a teenage girl with melancholy on her face, a teenage boy with an angry scowl upon his face, a man who was chomping down on a grandiose bacon cheeseburger like it was the last one he was every going to get and there was also a time limit involved, a child eating blueberry pie with obvious joy, and the child’s mother who looked on her son with separate but equal joy.

The woman and the man looked around the diner as they continued to enjoy each other’s company void of exchanged words. She spotted the blueberry pie boy. The joy of the blueberry pie boy added to her joy. It was necessary that the joy be shared with the man. So, she quickly pointed with her coffee spoon at the child. He understood. He nodded and smiled.

The waitress was at the booth with the pot of coffee. “More coffee?” she said. The man gave the thumbs-up signal. The woman smiled and nodded. The waitress poured the coffee into their cups and was off to another booth.

They reached for the silver-like cream container at the same moment. He was slightly faster and beat her to it. There was a definite dilemma as their gazes met. With his hand on the cream container he looked at her, he looked back at the cream container, and he looked at her again. And there was something about this double look that took an ounce of the joy from her face. He was a discerning man, though. And he noticed the ounce of joy had disappeared. But only for a moment. Because he did the right, gentleman, thing. He picked up the silver-like cream container and tipped it into her coffee cup. And her ounce of joy, that was lost but for a moment, was multiplied many times over. Then the soft and sweet silence came to a close.

“You’re a good friend,” the woman said.

And the man said, “I wouldn’t trade our friendship for all the coffee cream in all the diners in the entire world!”

So, they both smiled and continued to take joy in each other’s presence.