Once upon a time there was an old man. An old man who one morning opened his front door and inhaled deeply. Coffee? He inhaled again shaking his head. Could there really be coffee? It had been banned for so long, who had got their hands on coffee? He had to find it. He buttoned up his shirt and pulled his drooping trousers up over his waist. Then sniffing the air like that dog he had watched following the scent of the butchers van he roamed the streets following the scent of coffee.
He wandered down the road and then across the field opposite his house, barely conscious of the uneven ground beneath him, rocks piercing his feet. The smell of coffee was getting stronger. His heart pumped as his body remembered. And then squinting he stopped as he spied a café ahead. He walked in. Apart from him and the woman behind the counter it was empty. He was tended to promptly.
“An espresso macchiato please.” He asked.
“Of course.” Replied the woman.
He went and sat down, both hands resting on the table in front of him. Excited and with a whisp of nervousness.
The woman bought over the coffee and placed it down. The old man leant forward and inhaled deeply. The woman sat down, placing another coffee in front of her and did the same, drawing in the smell of the coffee as if for the first time.
“I’ve been waiting to drink this a while.” She said.
And they looked at each, the old man and the woman and he felt something that he hadn’t felt in a long time: companionship.
He brought a trembling hand to the little cup. And then peering in felt immediately reassured by the sight of the whip of foam on top. Just as he had remembered. He threw the coffee back quickly. Enjoying the slight scalding of his throat. Too long had he been existing on tepid warm tea.
“It’s strong sir. Maybe you’d like to wait for a bit?” The woman said, a motherly tone nudging in.
“No thank you. I have already waited too long. Another please.” Said the old man.
The woman shrugged and stood and went behind the bar and made him another espresso macchiato and then returned and placed it down in front of him. Sitting down down again opposite him, she placed a cup of coffee in front of her. She makes coffee quickly he thought. And then noticed her cup was slightly bigger, with the coffee full to the brim. He looked at her, a question in his eye. He attempted a smile, it had been so long, sometimes we wonder if we forget these things. But though she didn’t smile back, her eyes replied and her white skin seemed to shine something luminous and she dropped her gaze and closed her eyes for a moment, feeling something she hadn’t been able to feel for a while: loneliness. To feel this and to be with this old gentleman. Her heart felt like breaking in two. Because sitting with this man she was reminded of everything she didn’t have. Would the coffee make a difference?
The old man drank his second cup a little slower, finishing it in 3 sips. The woman didn’t immediately drink hers. Waiting for a while, after all what was the rush? Then reaching into her pocket she pulled out a straw and placing it in the coffee slurped her espresso macchiato down in one loud suck. The old man looked at the young woman, a pause and then he threw his head back and laughed. He laughed and placed a hand on his belly and he laughed and tipped his heels of the floor and he felt young and remembered.
“You are a beautiful woman.” The old man said and she looked at him and started talking and he listened and then he spoke a little and then some more and he noticed how she leaned forward more and more and how her face relaxed and he was filled with something he hadn’t felt for so long.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked.
“No,” she said, “but I would like a hug.”
The old man nodded and pushing back his chair he stood and she stood and they walked to one another and embraced. She was heavier then him but he was taller then her. And they hugged. It was not a boom of a hug, it was not a this is all of me feel me and be felt by me hug, it was a relaxing into the other hug. A hug so soft, so subtle that soon they both forgot themselves hugged and instead began to feel themselves to be the hug itself. A dissolving of sorts where the old man could feel the movement of the woman’s belly, enjoying her softness and roundness and relaxedness and the woman felt the old man and smelt him and was reminded of something she had thought she had forgotten. Remembering it now surprised her. And then she heard those words, the words said as a joke, but that remained as a legacy of a life that whispered to her still.
Sometimes dear, things don’t leave us. They just wait for an entrance to return. And one that you’ll never forget.
Or at least that’s what she remembered.