She ate her French fries as if she were high society. I watched this stranger from across the room as she cut each one into small pieces with her plastic fork and knife before piercing one with her fork, dipping it into her side of ketchup, and raising it to her mouth to nibble it softly. When she went to take a drink from her small Coke, she did so with her pinky raised and only drank in small sips. She set her drink down gently, as if it were a delicate china cup she was afraid of breaking.
I looked around and sighed. The burger joint reeked of humanity. Grease hung in the air like humidity, and there was tension between everyone, as if all the customers were negative magnets repelling each other. No one looked into each other's eyes, not even the cashier's. People said their orders to the menu above the counter. And it was so loud. There were too many noises—children screaming, cash registers clanging, and fries sizzling as they were dipped into vats of boiling oil. My muscles were tense and my hair bristled. Why do I even come here? When I realized I didn’t have an answer to that question, I sighed again and pushed away my half-eaten food.
My attention turned back to the woman, and hers turned to the burger. She picked it apart into its component pieces and sliced each section into small bits. She would put one or two bits on her fork at a time, eating a bite of burger and lettuce, then a bit of tomato or some of the bun.
She ate daintily. Delicately. With her elbows off the table and her napkin in her lap. When she finished, she took her tray up to the trash bin (I was surprised a waiter didn't pop up to take it away) and disposed of her things before leaving. At the door, as if compelled by a mysterious force of nature, a man standing nearby reached out to open it for her. She thanked him with a small curtsey before vanishing into the world.