The lights of The Diner stood out majestically, a stark contrast against the black veil of the night. Lit dimly only with the bleak reminders of stars, the universe shone a half-hearted attempt to assert it’s existence for any who might be looking into the sky that night. I stumbled into The Diner, not because it was some beacon shining in the darkness, but because it was the only place open this late, and I really wanted pie. I had stopped searching for reasons or answers long ago.
The Diner was a refuge, a half-way house, a shelter, a weigh-station, a sanctuary, for lost souls. Some were on their way someplace else, some had just returned. Others would stay at The Diner indefinitely.
For those like myself who loathe small talk and on a night light this could barely muster the energy or necessary social skills to place a simple food order, The Diner was amazingly accommodating. My piece of cherry a-la-mode sat ready and waiting for me at a solitary table, as if they already knew I would come.
Everyone here had lost something. Perhaps like me, they had lost themselves, or their mind, or their love, or their pride, or a child, or a limb, or something else undefinable. It didn’t matter the reason.
Though we all craved solitude, there was still a small part left in each of us, a shred of humanity, that acknowledged the desire for human contact. So we came to The Diner, to be alone together.
Should you want something to read during your visit, The Diner had a bookshelf that seemed to have a never-ending supply of literature. No matter how many people removed books from its shelves, they never went bare. You could walk up to the books and find something you had always wanted to read, even if you couldn’t remember making the conscious choice to want to read it.
The Diner existed in a world of perpetual darkness. Even if it seemed as though the night had gone on long enough, the sky would never show a sign of daybreak during your stay.
Maybe once you left The Diner, the world could turn away from the moon and face the sun, but time didn’t exist in whatever place The Diner called home.
No one who visited ever asked for directions, they weren’t lost in that since. Or perhaps, even if they were, it no longer mattered once they set foot inside.
There was nothing that could keep you from leaving The Diner, except your own desire to stay and allow the night to commiserate with the same empty sort of blackness that seemed to bring your soul on this journey in the first place.
Even if some people don’t want to admit it, almost everyone has visited The Diner at some point in their lives. They may only stay for a moment, they may stay for an eternity. Some may come for an occasional visit as an escape. Others keep finding themselves at The Diner even though they don’t remember going out in search for it.
For as foreboding as it sounds, The Diner is not intended to cause pain or serve as any kind of existential hell. It simply is.
There is no judgement, only peace. Perhaps not peace in the way that some might see that word and think “abounding joy” or “happiness.” But rather peace at finally being able to just exist and not have to give reason to anyone, even yourself, as to why.
It’s more a place where you’re finally allowed to exist without really existing at all. For those who haven’t experience it, they aren’t aware of the calming effect of a place with such an ephemeral nature.
This is an in-between. Without outwardly acknowledging it’s intentions, The Diner helps people understand their emotions, specifically feelings of a darker nature. The feelings that aren’t as socially acceptable. The feelings that are hard to voice out loud, or the ones that are so convoluted you couldn’t decipher them with the best code-breaker.
The Diner gives you the place to simply be. It doesn’t push any emotions on you. It doesn’t say, “you can’t feel this way.” Rather, it allows you to acknowledge that you do. No one at The Diner ever judged me for eating pie at 2am.
I won’t need to stay at The Diner forever. But i’ll stay as long as I want to.
Besides, the coffee never gets cold.