It was an icy-cold morning. The street was buried in snow. The air was white with haze, veiling the lonely streetlamp by the corner. Snowflakes fell in slow motion, and a sweet Christmas carol played in the background.
He sat in his favorite chair, waiting for her. For now, his only company was the cold cup of caffé mocha on the table. It was warm when it had been served, however, of all the things that mattered to him in regard to his coffee, its temperature ranked the last. He liked the chocolate in it. And so did she.
“Would you like anything else, sir? “The waiteress asked, her smile plastic, yet pretty. Her nose was tomato red.
“Umm..no. Just some time. “He said.
She nodded. She knew him. The same guy who had been at the same table every morning for the past seven days. He had been sipping cold coffee and buying some time for quite some time now.
He won’t budge, she thought. She knew he didn’t pay for coffee but for the seat. She knew he was the strange guy they showed in Alfred Hitchcock movies. She knew there was something wrong with the guy, something at the psychological level. It didn’t concern her though. She already had a drug addict sister – who unofficially held the Guinness world record for serving most number of Juvenile terms – to worry about.
It wasn‘t all dreary though. She had blue eyes and her friends loved her. She was graduating in Architecture, as was her dream since she was 9.
What’s up with that guy, she thought for the fifteenth time. She took a long glance at him through the corner of her eyes. Brown jacket. Buzz cut. And anxiety. His eyes darted from his watch to the door to the street to the watch.
Is he expecting someone?
For seven days?
The man swept his eyes through the customers dining in their jolly company. It seemed like he was the only lonely guy in the world. He wondered if he should gulp his coffee and leave. But the big question was – will he come again tomorrow?
He wondered if he should ask the waitress for the bill.
She was thinking about the customers who had visited the cafe in the past seven days. Yesterday, there were a happy family, an estranged couple, an old man with a weird accent, a few college brats, and regulars. The day before that, a lady with a red Louis Vuitton bag. Then, once there was this kid with big rimmed glasses who wanted to buy Hot Wheels mini truck. She tried to fit in a girl she could relate with him. Of course, he was waiting for a girl. Maybe I should just ask him, she thought.
“I’d like the bill, please. “He called out. She grabbed the book from the counter and walked towards him. He was handsome. Perhaps 25. He had a great jawline.
“You didn’t touch the coffee it seems. Is something wrong, sir? “She asked, the artificial smile on. She was sick of displaying fake smiles.
“No. I’m sorry. I’m getting late. Give me the bill. “He said.
She put the book on the table. He flipped it open, saw the figure, fished out his wallet and handled her the coins. He always paid in coins.
She uttered a thank you and took the coffee mug with her. He left the chair and slowly faded away into the fog.
She dumped the mug into the trash can, where lay the other seven untouched mugs amidst the crushed mugs and trash.
She never noticed the crushed ball of tissue paper under the table. Neither the phrases written on it.
She stared at her cold caffé mocha on the countertop, and wondered if she should pick it up. The temperature did not matter to her, only the chocolate did.
She wondered if the stranger would come again tomorrow.