Café Stories

Centre of the week in a little coffee shop. No cool smiles in this first corner. A dark-haired, suited man sits neglecting his orange juice for the man opposite with the spiked fringe and jeans. Like strange mirror images that accidentally found each other. They talk, a long way away from everything. His jacket thrown back like something wearily discarded, soon to go back on. His partner dabs a straw into the ice in his glass. The first gets up to go to the toilet. Left alone, the other strokes his chin and nose. Still frowning, happy but not content. Looking out.

Here, she smiles. Her friend’s dreams have come true. She leans forward, clasping a mug. An icy draught from the door. She nods. Her friend has curly hair and dances with her hands. They talk. It’s another world there! The coffee heat feels like it could burn her fingerprints off. Laughter over a promise made years before in a school playground. Her friend stands up, wraps herself in her coat, rummages in her bag. She stands up, buttons a jacket, takes a bag. Shivers with the thought of cold. We’ll do this again some time?

He looks at the menu. She sits opposite, saying it’s warmer here. Saying his bald head won’t be cold. Saying how much are panini, hoping they won’t be like at that other shop. He touches his head. Saying his red tartan shirt looks nice, and Shelter is the sensible option. Saying are you feeling all right? He looks at the menu. Thinking, I could still work. Saying ooh I don’t like pesto, it makes me feel sick. Maybe I’ll have a muffin instead. What about you? You should have a muffin, too. Saying so much tepid, everyday, fake, loving, necessary, appreciated…

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