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A Cafe Conversation
Dusk was long gone and the café was quiet except for a middle-aged man sitting near the door sipping a large coffee. A lone barista glided across the floor, sweeping away dust and miscellaneous wrappers. She wandered over to the man, obviously yearning to close up and go home.
“Can I get you anything else sir?”
The man set down his cup, turning away from the window to look at her. “Thank you, I’m fine,” he said softly. The barista couldn’t help but notice his solemn stare, his deep blue eyes were covered with a silver glaze, and his pupils kept drifting around the empty café.
“I’m sorry to keep you here,” he said, slightly chuckling to himself before returning his gaze to the window. “I met my wife in this café,” he continued, talking more to himself than the barista. “I was in college, sitting in this very spot. She was a server, the only one on shift that night.” He leaned back slightly, closing his eyes to bring forth the past in picture perfect condition. “I was taking up the entire seat with my books and laptop, yet had only ordered a coffee.” Slowly, his fingers traced around the rim of his cup, eyes still closed. “She was furious, trying to keep the customers moving so she could go home.” A slight chuckle escaped his lips once again. “After staying for over an hour, she lost her patience, and marched over to tell me off.” Suddenly his eyes opened, and he returned his attention to the barista. “I’m sorry, I must be boring you.”
“No, it’s fine.” The barista jumbled out. For she was one of those rare and wonderful people who thrived off of other people’s stories. To her, the story of someone’s life was far more interesting than a bestselling novel. “Please, continue.” She said, sitting down on the old chair across from him.
The man nodded with slight excitement, closing his eyes to once again return to the past. “She came storming over, I could practically see the smoke stemming from her ears. She slammed her notebook onto the table, sending papers flying. ‘Excuse me sir’, she had fumed, ‘Do you need anything else or are you just going to keep wasting space?’” The man paused, taking a long sip of coffee. “And all I did was smile at her and say she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.”
There was a long pause as the barista let that sink in. “What did she say to that?” She eventually asked.
The man leaned forward, setting his elbows on the creaky table, folding his fingers together. “She told me to get lost.”
“Of course, I was more embarrassed than I’ve ever been in my entire life!” He fell back, letting his laughter flow out in light rolls. “Oh, but I came back a few days later. Sat in this seat and ordered coffee every day for weeks until she agreed to go out with me. I think I just annoyed her into it.” The laughter subsided as the man began to retreat back inward. But the barista wanted to know more, eagerly she leaned forward, leg jumping with excitement.
“What happened next?”
“We went out, had the worst date ever in the history of bad dates, and got engaged a few months later.”
“Just like that?” The barista fell back, slightly disappointed.
The man nodded, finishing off his coffee in one long swig.
“But you barely knew each other!” She protested, not yet satisfied.
Slowly, the man rose from his seat and began to fish through his pocket for a tip. “There are different kinds of love you know. I loved her so much I agreed to marry her.” The tip was placed on the table and he returned his attention to the window, watching the stores close up and final rays of light sink below the buildings. “‘Just once’ she told me, ‘I want to be married just once before I die. I’m sick you see, but that won’t stop me.’” A single grey tear rolled down his drawn crumbly face. “So I said I’d marry her.” More tears escaped, and the man quickly wiped them away. “She looked so beautiful on that day, and it is the single greatest day of my life.”
“Did she make it?” The barista whispered, trying to hold back her own tears.
The man shook his head. “No, she died only a month later. ‘Go find your true love’, she told me on her last day, ‘Don’t mope around for me.’ He shook again, trying to shake away the painful emotions. He wasn’t talking to the barista anymore, but to the street that lay beyond the café. “But I truly loved her.” With his story told, the man quickly walked out of the café, wrapping a bright red scarf around his neck. The barista watched in silence as he plotted down the street, the scarf whipping in the breezy air. Eventually he turned the corner and vanished into the night.