March 5, 2015

Another Reason to Drink Coffee

Stone sculpture of two lovers embracing

Something was wrong. I could see them through the glass. They were outside, directly in front of the entrance, and creating a roundabout for anyone trying to buy a coffee. Normal, I like to think I’m discreet but I couldn’t look away and that alone suggested something awry.

He was young, taut and rangy. Untamed curls bounced around his neck. A measuring tape hung from his pocket. He was facing the café and would have had no problem seeing me if he looked up, but he didn’t. His hands stroked her arms and then ran down her thighs. She quivered, rested her head on his chest and sobbed, prompting him to hold her tighter. Dodging customers were uncomfortable. The waitress rolled her eyes. It really was a bad place to break up with someone.

From the back I could see that she was short but well-proportioned. Her blonde hair was cut into a bob, she wore a fitted leather jacket and carried a Marc Jacobs handbag. Her distress got louder as the show, as long as fifteen minutes, continued. Poor girl, I thought. But I was also eager to see her face.

Suddenly he gave her one last squeeze, pulled away and headed down the street, cell phone already in hand. She lowered her head, wiped her face, opened the glass door and headed towards a table where her mother, her aunt, her social worker or perhaps corrections officer had been sitting the whole time. It didn’t occurred to me that it was a friend until I got up to pay at the cash.

Leaving the café, I looked over at their booth. The friend was leaning across the table holding a hand and before I reach the door I finally caught a glimpse of the blonde as her hair slid away from her cheek. Pleated skin, cavernous eyes, soft loose cheeks and a forehead marked by sun spots placed her around seventy. My shock was profound.

For hours I decrypted what I saw. Everything about the scene was unusual, dare I say unnatural and it made things more exciting. I fell into the odd moment thinking absentmindedly about it; the setting, the role of each character. The next day I went back to the café hoping to see at least one of them, but it was over. I felt disappointed. It was a story I didn't get to finish but really wanted to.

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