There is a heat in the air, a waft of steamed milk and warm breath that causes him to sweat. He sits in a chair, balancing it on uneven legs against a table stained with water, lipstick and ash. It is his first time and he is smiling.
The coffee arrives, higher than the edge of the cup it is brimming with potential. He pulls his hand back from the side of the mug and holds it in the breeze of the open door. He smiles as he looks down at the surface of his drink, saliva washing against his tongue. He inches a finger towards it once more, unnoticed. He can smell grass and sawdust and his hands can feel the radiated warmth of Italian sunshine. Within the liquid he can almost see a summer spent on his grandparent’s orchard, sipping his first coffee with the beans used to make it still caked under his fingernails. Now he paid for it.
She drags out the chair opposite and he smiles at the rumble of companionship. The eyes he can see are the same as the ones he remembers; a chocolate brown that glowed with the warmth she carried with her. She sweeps a golden strand of hair behind her ear and presses her lips together at him. Her lipstick is pink and makeup masks her face. He sees auburn hair, a curly brook that bubbled across her back and bounced as she ran. Freckles swept across her face, he saw them as she turned to watch him chase after her. He always caught her because she always slowed down to let him.
He forces his eyes towards the face in front of him and half-extended a handshake. His hand clattered to the table and he stared at it as blood danced across his cheeks. She sighs and shakes her head as she presses her hand to his and guides it down. She breathes through her mouth and rubs her finger across the back of his hand. Her breath smells like tobacco.
Her touch is rough, but his memory holds a shadow of gentleness. His calluses were sore and the sweat stung, but the hand in his was warm and dry and he would not let it go. There was dirt on her elbows and she had scratched her arm on the bark of the trees that they sat next to. Wind rustled the canopy above them bringing the call of parents that heralded the end of the summer.
He jerks forwards, her skin lighting his and the sweat fuels the fire. His hip nudges the table and the coffee shakes. A few droplets spill from the edge and begin to run down the cup, beads of sweat on milky white skin. They stop against her finger. She swipes it across, catches the moisture and places it on her tongue. He smiles at the display. He’s already paid for it. Her teeth catch slightly and he winces as her nail varnish chips against her teeth. She smiles at him, her lips crooking into a line. Her eyes seek his; she wants to show she is enjoying herself.
He begins to speak; a few conversations are chewed over and discarded, a few jokes fall into silence. She led whilst he nods and tries to do as she asks. He shifts in his seat, his left leg cramping. He knocks the table again. The coffee gushes from the cup, messy and unrestrained. She inhales as she pushes back from it. He stammers an apology and she shakes her head. He has paid for it after all; he no longer cares how much he loses.
She takes a forceful grip on his wrist and his breathing gets shallower. She pulls him closer, locking her eyes with his. She raises a single eyebrow and he nods, surrendering to her. He can smell the scent coming from her, a perversion of rose oil and body odour sour in his nose. His tongue flickers across his lips and she sighs.
Memories force themselves back into focus. The scent of sweat mingled with the sound of summer rain. His lips brushed against the droplets that still clung to her. She tasted of the earth and the rain. She tasted of coffee. His trembling hands stopped within her grip. His eyes were unable to leave her face as her hands cupped the small of his back. She smiled up at him, her hair spilling across the ground, a strand stuck to her forehead with the rain. He pressed himself against her as her breath whispered against his ear. He sank into her deep, brown eyes.
She clears her throat and he blinks at her. She looks towards the coffee that waits on the table. As she grips the cup he attempts to speak. A grunt escapes his throat. She takes a large swallow and drains the cup, a practised motion that she performs with ease. She jerks to her feet, wiping her mouth. She pulls at his arm and begins to drag him from the shop. He sighs, tears threatening his eyes as he is ushered out of the door. He bites his lip, remembering the cost.
The coffee cup is empty now. The porcelain is stained and the liquid is gone. The winter wind blows harsh against his chest, cooling the heat of a summer memory. The smell of coffee, of grass and trees and sweat disperses, a cobweb fraying into the wind. All that was left was an empty cup, smeared with cheap, pink lipstick.
Well it has been a long time since I posted. Hopefully there are still a few people left who might enjoy a read :). I wrote this whilst waiting for a friend in a coffee shop and I wanted to do something that someone, somewhere might find moving.
Thanks for reading!
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