26 December 2012

Overnight coffee

“I hate Tuesday mornings because of him,” she said in passing, like an afterthought. I almost overlooked the subtle emphasis on each word. Hate. Because. Him.

“As opposed to Sunday nights?” I replied before I took a sip of coffee. We were lounging in her small kitchen, leaning back in rickety wooden chairs that were never comfortable to begin with, but never bothered to be replaced either. Every time someone new came over they’d politely compliment the novelty of these stupid old things, saying it “had character to it” – as if no one else in the room were already aware. Everyone agreed her kitchen had a sort of magic to it, though, so no one ever complained about the chairs. ’It just sorta pulls you in,’ someone would chirp. ’It’s comfortable,’ another would chime in. It made you stay and never want to leave. If HOME Magazine did a feature spread on coziest kitchens in all of Seattle, it would be filled with photos of hers. Or maybe just her. Maybe she’s what floods every room with light, permeating the air with a gentle grace and warmth.

“You’re doing it again.” I snapped out of my reverie. My eyes refocused and I turned to look at her. Her head was tilted slightly, a confused expression tiptoeing along her eyebrows. She gripped her mug delicately between her hands and looked back down. It’s not that her hands were slender and dainty – to be perfectly honest they fell a bit short of piano hands, calloused from baking and blistered from coffee spills. But no one, and I really do mean no one, could ever convince me that they weren’t the most beautiful hands in the world, band-aids and all. Probably in the universe too. I realized I’d gotten lost in thought again, and tried to pick up where the conversation left off. I opened my mouth to speak, but at that moment she began her story.

“You know how I work at the cafe down on Leary Ave? Sometimes he stops by throughout the week like freckles in summer, but he never misses Monday. It’s weird… most people wouldn’t visit a cafe on a Monday but he…" Her eyes softened. "He did. Always. They always sang that love was easy like Sunday morning, but he’d stolen all my November nights. Sometimes I turn off the porchlight at night and pull up a chair outside my door. I stare up at the sky only to remind myself that there is no starshine in his Winter. Have you ever felt that way?” I shook my head – sometimes it was all I could do to keep up with the way she talked. I wanted to be honest to her, but I couldn’t imagine how she was feeling. Her eyes lingered on mine and I looked down, strangely ashamed. I watched her eyelashes flutter down out of the farthest corners of my eyes. I snuck a glance and regretted catching her chin quivering and her shoulders trembling just, for a few fleeting moments. A smile formed and she laughed, a habit of hers I picked up early on whenever she tried to barricade her emotions. My fingertips burned, craving the curve of her shoulder in a reassuring, brief shake, or to comb her hair back behind her small ears.

But what could I do? It was Tuesday morning again. Christmas day. And she’d run out of coffee.

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