There were few places Marie avoided more fervently than the communal lunch table at the office. It was nothing personal, but forty hours a week with anyone puts her past her breaking point. She could barely stand to see her husband that much, and she got along with him better than any person she’d ever met.
Her coworkers prattled on endlessly about stuff she found relentlessly dull. Either their children and grandchildren and weddings and birthdays, or sports and reality television and the weather. They were all perfectly nice people, mind you, but the world they lived in outside the office was very different from her own. She was sure they weren’t any more interested in the perfectly phrased sentence she just read than she was in little Madison’s dance recital, so she suspected her presence was scarcely missed.
She sat down at the cafe a few blocks down the road. The food was fresh and the cafe was gloriously quiet. She never took the opportunity to read in peace for granted. Lunch time was her island of solitude. There was no voice on the other end of a phone line, no expense report to fill out, no one to ask how her day was going. There was nothing but the book in her hand, the food on the table, and the sunlight from the window.