A Short Story
"She walked into the restaurant as if she was walking onto a super yacht. Each step was taken with a quiet purpose and confidence. People stopped eating and turned to look.
Not classically beautiful but she had something about her that made her so.
She took her seat gracefully, crossed her legs and nodded to the waiter. He quickly walked over to her; his long black starched waiter’s apron contrasted against his crisp white shirt. He approached her with the complicated menu in hand, but she declined with a slow smile and a raise of her hand. She didn’t need to see the menu.
She ordered a small bottle of sparkling water, a glass of champagne and a simple omelette. She didn’t want any bread but nodded at the offer of olives.
Her drinks and olives arrived quickly and she took a long sip of her cham- pagne. She gave a happy shiver as the bubbles travelled down her throat and her head lightened a little.
As she waited for her omelette to arrive, she relaxed her arm over the back of her chair and took a slow look around the room. The restaurant was busy.
Businessmen in expensive-looking suits were enjoying working lunches, and a stylishly dressed couple in their sixties chatted about the last time they had been in town. Opposite her sat three young women, about the same age as her. They were excited, all talking at once, not listening to each other but just enjoying the atmosphere that girls together can create. Smiling, giggling, loving life.
One other woman was sitting on her own, about twenty years older than Isobel. She had out her diary on the table, her phone to her ear, supposedly listening to messages and a pen in her hand, poised, ready for instruction. Her meal had already arrived but she didn’t seem to be taking the time to eat and enjoy it. She was keeping busy.
Isobel didn’t need to look busy. She didn’t want to pretend. She had taken her place at this table, in this restaurant confidently knowing that she was who she was supposed to be and where she was supposed to be. She had lovely friends, but she was happy with her own company. She had lots to say but didn’t feel the need to fill in the quiet spaces. She kept her phone in her bag, as she didn’t need a distraction, she wanted to savour the creaminess of her omelette and the bubbles in her champagne.
She put on her large round sunglasses, even though she was indoors and she enjoyed her space, her calm and her confidence.
We don’t know what Isobel’s story is and actually, it doesn’t matter, that’s the whole point.
She might have been born with her air of confidence but it’s unlikely. The chances are she has experienced struggles and trauma, quite possibly shatter- ing ones, but whatever has happened to her, she has survived and it has given her an inner strength that will support her for the rest of her life.
If the scene in this short fictional story were real, and we were sitting in the same restaurant as Isobel, we could very easily misjudge her. We could feel a little jealous of her high levels of confidence, we might wish that we were as sure about our life as Isobel clearly is. But of course, we don’t actually know Isobel’s story. So it would be very wrong to measure ourselves using her ruler.
As the saying goes, you can never judge a book by its cover and that’s especially true in this case.
So the next time you sit and watch a beautiful, sophisticated and confident ‘Isobel’, don’t judge yourself against her actions, as they may not be quite what they seem...
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