Solace is a story about a woman, Cheryl Peters who had been successful and rich but falls down from the throne to the ground and comes to know about the hard truths about the poor.
She was there, sitting on a table for two. The waiter approached her with a writing pad to take her order. She ordered her favourite without even glancing at the menu card. Oh! How much she had missed being herself.
“I’d like to have Steak, medium-rare, poached eggs with oyster sauce.” She said, in her best accent.
“Ah! An excellent choice, Ma’am. It’ll be right up.” Said, the waiter.
She had come to the most expensive restaurant in the city. The clothes she was wearing, stolen. The jewellery, stolen. She looked around the restaurant and was bewildered. So many people, so much chaos, so many voices, so much talk but so little meaning. This is the life she had always had, the life of the rich. She looked at all the people and wondered what they did for a living.
She realised that she had ordered something really, really expensive and instinctively checked the wallet that she had stolen from the unconscious woman. It was all visiting cards and offer store cards and 10 dollars, otherwise empty.
She started panicking. How would she pay the bill? Would they file a case against her? She started having second thoughts about coming here in the first place. She looked around and was astound to find a man looking directly at her, wearing similar clothes of the man who was found lying unconscious with that woman. She started pulling at her clothes nervously when he started walking her way. Her mind was in constant argument with itself. It was definitely a bad idea to come here.
But where would she go, anyway? No home, no friends.
Well, the ones whom she once called her friends were no longer by her side in her time of crisis and misery, so they weren’t supposed to be called her friends anyways. A stark, smart and successful woman, once was now on the streets living with the homeless and poor, starving and begging and stealing. What on mother earth had happened to her?
That man, now came up to her table and asked if he could have a seat with her. She nodded in agreement, well she couldn’t really say no to Him, could she? A handsome young man, in his twenties, the same as her. Charming, earnest and chivalrous. Was she hallucinating?
His smile was so bright, it brought brightness in her life.
She looked at her watch, well that was the only thing she owned. It was old and worn-out but it had been her mothers and was beautiful. It had been only 20 minutes since he’d taken the order. She decided that she’d cancel the order and pay the waiter off with the 10 dollars that she had. But instead, she asked the man how he found those clothes. Oh! So, so stupid. What was she thinking?
He replied, “Uh, Ma’am. I think you’re mistaking me for someone else. I am Alfred. These clothes are mine and well, I had lent my clothes to my cousin’s fiancé but otherwise, these aren’t easily found because they are custom made.”
“I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just a little tired out today. I think I’m going to leave.” And she started to raise from her chair, when the wallet fell down from her hands onto the floor.
“Wait, I know that wallet. Where did you find that? Who are you? Where is Kelly?”
“I have to go. I’m sorry.”
“Sit down here and answer me. Right now or I will call the manager.”
“I do not know what you’re talking about. Kelly, who? I’ve never heard that name.”
“Where did you find that wallet?”
“Why did you approach me?”
“I saw you sitting here all alone, your eyes, sad. I thought you were waiting for someone and that he didn’t show up and you were leaving because of that. So, I just came up to share a meal with you. Did anyone tell you that you are hauntingly beautiful?” Even though she was immensely tensed up, she couldn’t ignore that little blush and a rush that spiked up through her body.
“I’m sorry. I was really hungry and I found this wallet fallen down and I really needed money.” She flustered.
“Calm down. Just shush now. Where…” As he was speaking, the waiter brought her meal and he was surprised. “That is pretty specific for a poor person?”
“I know. I shouldn’t have ordered that, it’s just out of habit. Never mind that. I’m sorry.” She said all of it in one breathe.
“I asked you to calm down. Habit? Have you been here before?”
“I, uh. I am Cheryl Peters.”
“Wait? You are The Cheryl Peter? THE CHERYL PETER?”
“Please stop.” She looked away and blinked back the tears.
“Okay? Are you okay? Why do you have to steal? Where have you been?”
No one knew where she had gone. She had disappeared like thin air. He kept persisting and asking questions, she shot him one look and he was silenced.
“Can you pay for my meal? I don’t have money.”
“Will you talk to me, then?” He asked. She couldn’t risk people finding out about her so she nodded at him, slightly.