[from the book TALES: parables, fables, visionary snippets, c 2018 by max reif]

At the end of the day the little restaurant sighed in joy, “At last I am freed from use!”

It relaxed into the delicious midnight hours of being anything in particular. It ebbed along with the refrigerator’s peaceful hum. At times it completely forgot itself in spaces of freedom, and no one would ever be able to say where it went: whether it was cavorting at the ends of far galaxies, or had passed into shimmering unknown realms of other dimensions, or what?

Its glorious non-being lasted ages, or perhaps infinities: for what is Time?

Then, in the morning, the proprietors, an elderly Asian couple, opened its door, came in, and turned on the lights. They busied themselves with little tasks of sweeping, brewing hot water, and so on. They walked about, each of them humming unconsciously a merry tune, and the restaurant thought, “This is, if anything, even better than where I was. For now I can linger on the very edges of consciousness, and share Being with these two other happy souls. And love is always greater when shared.”

The Asian couple finished their chores and waited for the customers to start coming in. Happiness still breathed through the great spaces of the place, like swimming otters of light. All the food in the place was freed from ideas about eating or being eaten. Drinks were freed as though forever from the idea of mouths. Rather, everything danced purposeless in joyous shared coordinates of existence.

A man came in, ordered tea and oatmeal, and his presence augmented the symphony like a gentle harmony. Money, it seemed, had never been invented yet. It slept quietly in the cash register.

Two more men came in. One ordered scrambled eggs and toast, the other pancakes, and both had coffee. Then a young lady, just toast and tea; a middle-aged woman, cereal; and three truckers, coffee and donuts.

The place began to fill and buzz with conversation. The elderly proprietors began to be pulled this way and that by people’s demands.

The restaurant though, “Oh, dear! Time to go to work!” For it was becoming a chore to host these beings who thought of nothing but food and whose conversation in the infinite realm of possible subjects was like the same old one-string fiddle scratching the same weak note over and over and over again, while enormous harps, organs with undreamed of range, grand pianos and guitars and flutes and millions of instruments we have never even heard of yet went begging, un-played.

The restaurant forgot its freedom in the fetid sameness of the rest of the day’s customers and transactions, until shortly before closing time it began to have presentiments, in the emptiness, of who it was again.

The weary Asian couple cleaned and departed, honestly spent.

And the restaurant was left to dream for another infinite night.

(TALES: parables, fables, visionary snippets is available on this page of the Marketplace or from Sheriar Books)