One minute I’m waiting for a table at a packed Waffle House. The next minute I’m seated in a booth across from a stranger sharing breakfast with her. Well, it didn’t happen that quickly, but close. I had been waiting in line ahead of her and I said to her, “Wow, I didn’t think that it was going to be this crowded!”
She said, “Yeah, I’m surprised too. I’m going to the Psychic Festival, but I’d rather eat here. It’s cheaper.”
The Psychic Festival, I thought. Now she’s a person that I’d like to talk to. A booth opened up and the host told me the table was available. I asked her if she wanted to join me.
“Sure,” she said, “I hate to take up a booth when I’m by myself.”
We sat down and had that awkward moment of not knowing what to do or say.
I was struggling to figure it out. Curiously, the two of us took out our phones and placed them on the table, like security blankets.
A worn-out-looking waitress with frizzy brown hair came over and said to my booth mate, “How’s it going, Tracy?”
“It’s good, Mary Ann,” she said. She nodded at me and added, “We just met.” Then she turned back to Mary Ann, “I’m headed to the Psychic Festival after this.”
“I’m real interested in that,” Mary Ann said, “but I’m scared. I don’t want to hear anything that I don’t want to hear, but I believe in all that. I do. I really do.”
“You should go,” Tracy said.
Mary Ann went over to take an order from a man so big he took up almost two seats at the counter.
“I’m really into everything psychic,” Tracy said to me. “You see, my dad died a month ago and I want to meet with a medium and talk to him. I took care of him when he was dying. I miss him and I want to talk with him.”
Then I saw her eyes tear up and I felt badly for her. “I’m sorry about your dad,” I said.
“Thanks, it’s hard. It’s really hard,” she said. And then she went right back to the Psychic Festival. “It costs forty dollars for a reading and twenty dollars to get in, but all the classes are free. I’m totally into it.”
I looked more closely at her. She was in her late twenties to early thirties, with jet black hair in a Cleopatra cut and supersized hoop earrings.
“I’ve had readings done for years,” she went on. “Sometimes they’re dead-on and sometimes they aren’t. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m still going to go.”
“I’ve never been to a psychic festival,” I said.
“You should go,” she said very matter of factly, just like she had to Mary Ann. “There’s a medium that I want to meet with. For some reason, I’m drawn to her picture.” She took out her phone and showed me the face of a middle- aged woman with sandy blond hair.
“I hope,” I said, “that she works out for you.”
“Me too,” she said.
“I have a daughter whose seven,” she said. “I don’t take her to psychic festivals, I think it can be too weird for a kid. We watch psychics on T.V though.”
I thought that was pretty weird that her daughter watched those T.V shows, but I didn’t comment on it. Our food arrived. She ate some sort of egg sandwich creation that I realized I couldn’t identify. Since she was a regular Mary Ann had just brought it out without even asking, but Lord knows what it was. I wanted to stare at it. You know, as if I were writing one of those books about diner food across America. But I didn’t.
I was aware that Tracy hadn’t asked me anything. She was either too grief-stricken or not interested or both. I didn’t mind. Sometimes people just need to talk to someone they don’t know. At one point I told her I was a writer and she didn’t even ask me what I wrote.
“Well, thanks for letting me share your booth,” she said when we were finished.
“Anytime,” I said.
We walked out together. Her dusty black Jeep was parked next to my car. She got into it and waved goodbye. I waved back, hoping that she would find the answers to what she was searching for?