Celeste did it to make a point. She actually wondered if anyone would notice.
She had entered her favorite restaurant wearing her favorite boots and carrying her current favorite book. She was greeted and seated at her favorite table on the patio.
Even though the sky looked a bit threatening, she had insisted. She loved the fresh air and natural surroundings.
The place was packed, and she enjoyed all the activity. After receiving her wine, she surveyed the patrons to see if there was anyone she knew. She could not escape the realization that nobody was talking to each other. Heads down, texting, watching movies, playing games, checking emails, and snapping selfies while holding up various fancy drinks. Chunky children sat, mimicking their parents, staring at their video games while their parents stared at their phones. A voice shouted to no one, “I have 52 likes!” Another exclaimed, “I have 2,000 friends now!”
Before Celeste discovered the joys of dining alone with her thoughts, she dined with her friend, Theo. They always had the most interesting conversations about life. But that was before his untimely demise. She was sad that the other diners were not loving and enjoying one another’s company. She thought it would be better to dine alone than to rudely ignore each other, not caring about each other’s lives.
She seemed to be the only one bothered. No wonder there is so much loneliness in the midst of all this connectivity, she thought. She wondered how many “likes” and how many “friends” were enough? What number would make them put down their phones and appreciate the friends and family sitting in front of them? Was it the insatiable ego driving all this madness? She missed the laughter and conversations with her friend. She wondered how many would miss the disembodied online world of friends if it was suddenly gone. What memories would be cherished?
She was curious if they even noticed anything around them. Perhaps they all were stuck in a cyber, self-important, fantasy world. The social deterioration was making her angry. Her anger quickly ignited uncontrollably within her like a volcano. This was not the experience she wanted to have when she went out to eat!
Using the candle at the table, she set the empty chair at her table on fire. She then flung it onto the nearby rocks. She perched herself on the edge of her table to watch. The smell of smoke made a few diners look up. Some turned their backs to her and snapped selfies. Photos of themselves with Celeste posed on the edge of her table, wine in hand, and the chair burning in the background. Someone was making a video of the scene, “Oh baby, this is gonna go viral!”
Pretty soon everyone was talking to each other about the lunatic who burned the chair. Parents were balancing kids on their shoulders so they could see over the commotion. The burning chair turned into a party! There was laughter as they all shared the experience, high-fived each other, and toasted to the burning chair! What a wonderful time everyone was having together!
“That’s better!” Celeste said smiling, as she sat down, opened her book and took a sip of wine.