I closed my eyes at the light streaming through my windshield. Squinting against the setting sun, I fumbled around the glove box for my sunglasses. Tire gauge, napkins, pens. They had to be in there somewhere.
I slammed the box closed. I didn’t really need them anyways – I just needed a place to park.
My phone vibrated in my pocket. One long, one short – a text message.
“New text message from Beni: ‘I just got here. Getting a table in the back.’”
“Reply.” I paused to let my command register. “’I’m parking now. Be there in a minute. Do you want to go ahead and order appetizers?’ Send.”
“…Text message sent.”
Street parking was packed tonight, so I pulled into a garage a couple blocks from the restaurant. There were a pair of well-lit spots against the far wall, so I parked. Grabbing my coat from the passenger seat, I did a quick mental inventory to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.
Keys? Yep, in my pocket already.
Alright, good to go. I closed the door, shrugged on my jacket, and listened for the lock to engage. Click. Good.
Making a mental note of where I’d parked, I cut across the garage to the street. I didn’t want to keep Beni waiting – she was a special girl. I could see her soft brown eyes checking her phone for an update.
The restaurant was a block ahead on the other side of the street. Too much traffic for me to cross here.
I reached the crosswalk just as my light turned red. Just what I needed – another delay.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see if she’d texted back. No, nothing. Hopefully a good sign.
The light still hadn’t changed. I glanced down at the ground and saw a bum sitting there. The man’s darkened eyes looked toward me through lines of dirt and sweat-soaked hair. He held up a paper cup containing a crumpled bill and few coins, but he didn’t say anything.
Get a job, man. It’s not that hard.
Finally the light changed and I jogged across the street. As I entered the restaurant and handed the greeter my jacket, I told him my girlfriend was already seated.
“Ah, yes. Follow me.”
He led me to the back of the restaurant where I saw Beni seated, eyes glued to her phone.
She stood when she saw me, and I gave her a hug and a quick kiss. “Sorry I’m late. Traffic was a mess tonight, and then I had to park forever away.”
I loved her smile. “Don’t worry about it. I was just on Facebook. How was work?”
Before I could answer, the waitress approached with a plate of bruschetta. “Do you need a few moments to look at the menu?”
“Yes, thank you,” I nodded.
I grabbed Beni’s hands across the table. “I’m hungry – I’ll bless the food,” I said as I closed my eyes.