July 22

Edward Hopper (b. 1882)

 

The diner is an oasis of light, a glass-enclosed wedge of safety against a bleak, emptied world.

An estranged couple sits uncomfortably close together, their backs to the shadowy street.  The server behind the counter looks beyond them, sees his own starched reflection in the restaurant glass, white like a ghost.

No one can remember what the solitary man said, but the tone of his words hangs heavy in the air.  He’s alone, sitting apart, and clearly hadn’t intended to engage others in conversation.  Just speaking to himself, like lonely people do.

A comment on the weather.  On the speck of dirt inside his water glass.  On the price of a fine cigar.

Or something menacing, like:  They’re coming.  We’re the only ones left.

Typical paranoid mutterings from a senile old man.  But this late at night, such comments grasp at shadowy truth.

The enclosing windows no longer seem an adequate protection.  The light and glass expose them as easy targets, to whatever is out there.

The server notices his reflection again, an ethereal shape hanging in mid-air.  He ducks beneath the counter to retrieve a shotgun.  In the window, the shape moves closer.