Serenaded in Public

   “I can’t read anything on this menu,” admits Ellen, softly. She nods down at the laminated paper in her hands, where the cursive is small and foreign. It’s a high class French restaurant – the sort with cloth napkins folded into neat boxes, white table cloths, and a lit candelabra as the center piece.
   Her boyfriend, Damian, shrugs. “I can’t either. I say we just ask the waiter when he comes by.”
   Ellen shakes her head. Blonde ringlets bounce against her cheeks. “No! We can’t do that! It would make us look stupid, Damian. We should just…pick something.”
   “And if we don’t like it once it gets here?”
   It’s Ellen’s turn to shrug. She says, “we can always get something on the way home. If we take 24th, we’ll go right past that new Taco Bell.”
   Damian rolls his eyes. “How romantic.”
   And Ellen thinks, this dinner isn’t turning out much better.
   She keeps that thought to herself, though. All that Ellen does is smile at her boyfriend and go back to looking over the menu. She regrets taking Spanish instead of French, back when she was in high school. Regrets taking that half semester of Latin during her early years of college, too.
   When the waiter finally does make an appearance, it’s with a thin lipped smile and hardly a welcoming word. He only waits around long enough for Damian to order them each a glass of red wine, and then he vanishes.
   “Awesome,” mutters Ellen, resting her head in one hand. She lets the menu flop back onto the table, thinks that she’ll order the seared white sturgeon with caviar beurro blanc. Sturgeon, Ellen knows that’s a fish, and she likes most types of fish. “Where’d you find this place?”
   “Online,” admits Damian. He’s tall and broad shouldered, with dark green eyes and black hair that seems impossible to tame. There’s a smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose, and when he smiles it’s a flash of white teeth. “I thought that it was a pretty neat sounding place. The reviews were great. They’re supposed to be really good about working with the customers.”
   “Our waiter must not have read those reviews,” says Ellen, with a snort. But then she shakes her head and changes the subject, because it’s not really the best conversation for their Valentine’s Day dinner. Instead, she asks about work and she asks about the new couple that just moved in next door, with their five black labs and the teenager that’s trying to start up a band.
   In turn, Damian asks Ellen about her mother in law with the broken ankle, and he asks her about the new line of dresses that she’s trying to get picked up. It’s a familiar conversation, warm and welcome after the long hours of the week. Each word draws Ellen in deeper into the conversation and she’s almost lost track of how much time has passed when their waiter finally returns, carrying a silver tray that’s garnished with bits of golden tinsel. Two flute glasses of wine are set down on the table, and two plates follow. They’re carrying some sort of small roasted bird and smooth mashed potatoes.
   “I didn’t order anything,” says Ellen, confused.
   Damian puts a hand over top of hers. “It’s okay. This is better than a random something or other, right?”
   There’s a mischievous glint to his eyes, and Ellen gets the feeling that he ordered their meal before she arrived. He’s a sly one, always thinking three steps ahead of the rest of the world. She thinks, if only his boss could see this side of him. She says, “alright. Bird it is!”
   “Quail,” corrects the waiter, with no small amount of disdain in his voice. He gives them a thin lipped smile, nods once, and then sweeps away from the table.
   “Unpleasant,” mutters Ellen, as she pulls the plate closer.
   Behind her, a man says, “perhaps I can make things look a little more pleasant?”
   Ellen twists around in her seat and comes face to face with a mariachi band! She’s completely at a loss for words, staring at them wide eyed and mouth partially agape.
   “Damian?” she asks, softly. Already, Ellen can feel her cheeks heat up. This is so – so mortifying!
   Rather than offer up any sort of explanation, Damian stands up and moves to join the mariachi band. He takes a guitar from one of the men, gives Ellen a blinding smile, and starts to sing.

“Only one in a million

Find a love like this.

There’s mystery and passion

in the touch of our lips.

we make love till the morning

And it’s such a beautiful thing.

The only way to describe it..

It’s like dancin’ in the rain.

Dancin’ in the rain

With no regrets

You lose all your heartaches

As soon as you get wet

Well there’s no more worries

There is no more pain

There’s no medicine in the world,

Like dancing in the rain.

You can look up in the heavens

Search every star in the sky

None will compare

To the look in her eyes

We get lost in each other

And it’s such a beautiful thing

The only way to explain it..

It’s like dancing in the rain.

Only time will tell our future

And all of you will see

Our love will last forever

It’s like a deep rooted tree

We are a never ending story

And it’s such a beautiful thing

The only way to explain it..

It’s like dancing in the rain.

   And it’s absolutely amazing, watching him up there. Doing this, for me. Singing, breathing, living – and the realization that he’s doing it for her, that’s heart stopping. Ellen can’t help but cry, one hand coming up to cover her mouth.
   Around her, the rest of the restaurant breaks into applause. One woman even shouts, “he’s a keeper!” 
   “He is,” breaths Ellen, getting up on shamefully shaking legs. She wraps Damian in a hug and can’t help but wonder how she managed to find a man as wonderful as him. Can’t help but think, I hope that this lasts forever.
   “I love you,” says Damian.
   Ellen can’t find the words to answer him. Instead, she runs a hand up the back of his neck and catches him in a kiss.

Author: Katelynn E Koontz

Song Lyrics By: Lucas Duda

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