I have never loved and loved without loss. I have never stepped inside anything so beautiful without a piece of me breaking. She is still sitting on the counter. Still whisking flour and baking soda, breathing in smoke she doesn’t not allow me to see. She is drinking coffee without me, then drinking it with me on mornings where it is too beautiful to be inside. She is still hugging me from behind, pressing soft kisses to the top of my head. She is still saying hello to regulars and welcoming the new. She’s slipping slowly. Every time I scrub the floors, every time I lock up for the day, I see less and less of her. She says goodbye faintly in the night, and I can see her disappearing into it. One day she won’t come back. One day the only images of her will be at the front of the menu. When Sal asks, I’ll tell him she’s doing alright, no matter how many times I’ve told him before. She’s doing alright, Sal. She’s doing alright.
“You go on ahead. I’ll just throw this out,” he nodded, his mouth twisting into a half-smile of pursed lips and sunken eyes. As she left, he watched the bell above the door ring once, twice, three times, announcing her departure. She won’t be calling him back. Their corner table had been slightly uncomfortable, but it served its purpose. Five coffees were made behind the counter; the timer going off at one-minute intervals. Continue reading