Fork on the left, dessert fork on the inside. Spoon on the right, with the knife lined perfectly next to the plate. Napkin crisply folded beside the fork, and place card perfectly centered. It was important for this setting to be perfect. It was the only one that wouldn't be disturbed.
"Done?" Ted Grant asked, coming out from the kitchen.
"Yeah, how's it look?" Courtney Whitmore spread her arms wide, inclusive of every place setting and decoration.
"Not bad, kid, not--" Ted paused as he saw the name on the place card. He frowned and placed a large hand on her shoulder. "Look, punkin'," he said, squeezing her shoulder. "I know Cave Carson and all that mumbo jumbo he's hearing is getting your hopes up but--" He sighed. "Sand ain't gonna just pop out of the ground, dust himself off and sit down for some grub. I'm all for seeing him again, too, but I think maybe we're looking a little far ahead."
"I read about it," she said stubbornly, shrugging off Ted's hand. "It's called a missing man setting. Don't tell me he doesn't deserve it."
"I'll be the first to raise the toast," Ted promised gruffly.
Author's Notes: Sand *sigh* mergedwiththeearth in JSA #50. In #51 or #52, Cave Carson (a Golden Age archeologist/adventurer) tells Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific that he's derived a pattern emanating from the ground near where Sand vanished. It's Morse Code, spelling out J-S-A. Doc and T look surprised, and then go eat Thanksgiving dinner. I remain unimpressed. The Missing Man table is usually set at military banquets. Six seats are set, one to represent POWs in each branch of the military--and civilians. The moderator of the event explains why they're there as the Honor Guard places service or civilian caps on each seat.