Monday 3 April 2017

Even Her Eyes Were Shut

A large cappuccino. That had been her order. To have in, please.

She’d smiled, politely enough, so that the wings of her smudged eyeliner creased and spread outwards, into her pupils. Then, with an almost-whispered “thank you,” she had paced to the back of the room, to where the more scratched and bruised tables stood – proud despite their wounds. It was on one such table that the girl had set down her grey plastic tray and moved her corporate mug of steaming coffee, which was to leave an irremovable stain on the wood when it would be taken away two hours later.

She placed her handbag down on the floor, blinked with a sigh, then hauled herself back up again. Back to perfect posture. Slowly, she brought the mug to her lips, pinky in the air with a smirk. She steadily drank a mouthful of the coffee before setting it back down again. The ceramic peeled away from her lips, a heavy kiss left imprinted on its side in deep scarlet and the trail of a single brown tear trickling down the white edge.

Another breath. And now, she could hear the conversations of the wrinkled couple sitting in the opposite corner to her, nursing two medium chai teas.
          “No Barry, it just can’t cut it. Look, I have to start again, there’s no other option.”

Screams of children cooled her bones, as their mother found herself draped over the side of a rickety wooden chair, almost unconscious.
          “But I want the bigger slice!”

She sat quiet and undisturbed. Her hands lay on top of one another, except for when they reached for the coffee mug. Her chest moved to the beat of the coffee machines clinking at the front of the shop. Metal on metal. Even her eyes were shut.

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