She just wants to sit and talk, to linger at the table after the coffee’s gone cold and everyone
else has graciously gone home — after washing a dish or two, of course. She just wants
to sit and run her hands over a warm, smooth tabletop, gentle with the wood, her fingers, your
smile. Leaning back in her chair, not looking for a clock.

She wants a full, expectant silence, a silence that’s waiting, but not worried.

She wants it to be the best talk she’s ever had. She wants it to be engaging, vivacious,
terrifying, funny, loving and real. Then she wants to do it again.

You might not know this, but she is a very skilled hostess. Once, she made a list of the things
she was very best at—smiling, inviting, welcoming, sharing, cooking, tasting, adoring,
raving, listening, perceiving, easing, diffusing, defusing. Too bad, she thought, I haven’t
seen any listings online for “Empress”.

But at the end of the night, everyone wrapped in coats and scarves, sent on their way with
leftovers and a recommendation for a babysitter or dentist, she just wants to fall into conversation
like into an old, sinking couch. She wants a few quiet hours and a good listener, the chance
to be honest and scared and whatever else, and the sense that these hours were well spent.