Coffee and Cigarettes

He looked at the cell phone sitting in the table. It may have been the third time since he had gotten to the coffee shop, it may have been the thirtieth. No one was paying attention, least of all him. All he knew was that she had said she was going to call him and she hadn’t yet. The phone remained still and silent on the table, yet it still constantly called his attention in that direction.

It wasn’t that he really wanted to talk to her, they had nothing to say to each other. Sure, it had been a few months since they last talked, things had happened, but Josh wasn’t really interested in sharing what had been going on in his life, and he really didn’t care what new troubles Donna had gotten herself into, that door had been closed and locked tight.

When he got the email from her a couple of days before, he had been surprised at first. The type of surprised that leaves you unsure of where you are and what time it is, the type of surprised that makes you a little sick to your stomach. He never expected to actually hear from her again, had taken some solace in that assumption. She had made it perfectly clear in a short letter last Christmas that they had served their purposes for one another and that it was time to let the present become the past, because the past had already been written.

So, this email asking to talk to him, telling him that she would be calling at a specific time on a specific day, had caught him off guard. He thought about responding with words filled with pain and sadness, telling her that he never wanted to hear her voice again or that she could burn in hell, but he didn’t do those things. He responded with his new phone number and told her that he would wait to hear from her.

And he waited, one cup of coffee was gone along with three cigarettes. They were soon followed by another coffee and the ashtray was filling with cigarette butts and still he waited. The table that was bathed in sunlight when he had gotten to the coffee shop was now in the shade, and the warmth he had felt when he sat down had become a slight chill from the breeze blowing.

His phone sat there, silent and still, waiting for a call that would never come. He sat there, silent and still, and when the fourth cup of coffee was gone and after he had stepped on his last cigarette, he got up to leave. He grabbed his things, resolved to let this be another lesson in a long line of lessons. He walked to the parking lot and saw her car, saw her sitting in her car. Saw her gripping the steering wheel, knuckles white and forearm muscles taught.

He watched her for a moment as she sat there, her unable to see him from where he stood. He felt sadness, thinking about how she must have chosen this place to call him and how his being there must have broken her resolve to make that call. He imagined that she was now lost and conflicted, her plans had been dashed and all she could do was sit there and try to figure out what to do next.

Donna waited for the answer to come to her. Josh had left and she still sat there, phone on the car seat next to her, bottle of water empty and her last two cigarettes long gone. She sat there after the last cup of coffee had been served and after the lights were finally turned off. She sat there, knuckles white and wrapped around the steering wheel, forearm muscles cramped and sore. She waited, still and silent, for an idea of what to do with herself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *