From outside the coffee shop across the road, Julia watches Charlie Miller leave the diner. It starts to snow again and if she narrows her vision to exclude all else, she can almost believe that she is looking at an idyllic scene. Snowflakes drift softly through the golden glow emanating from the diner window. Waitresses move about inside with coffee pots, amid the chattering, happy diners. Charlie Miller, in jeans and cowboy boots, plaid flannel shirt poking out from a nondescript brown jacket, completes this perfect portrait of nostalgic Americana. But then he pauses outside the diner and crosses his arms in a tight knot across his chest. He stares straight ahead, as if he is viewing hell. The image of blood and clotted brain-matter leaps up before her eyes. She stuffs it back into the box too small to hold it, only to wait for the demented jack-in-the-box to spring again.
I wanted to drink its blood.
Because it never wanted to know me.
But I didn’t bite.
“Someone once said that life prepares you for what it throws at you.
Man O’ fuck! That’s a very wise and comforting thought for coping.
He promised to keep me safe.
A promise that turned out to be total and complete bullshit. Brent also vowed to be faithful, stick around in sickness and health and a bunch of other things that went by the wayside the moment he decided to tell me about his ridiculous, “mid-life crisis” indiscretion.
Denise organized the chairs in a circle, each no more than six inches apart. She sorted the donuts on the tray so each had its own space, none touching. The coffee was positioned to allow for steady traffic and conversation.
Denise smiled and watched each person enter the room, grab donuts, gulp coffee, and slid chairs out of position. She stayed silent, reminding herself this was part of the healing process.
Alan joined his sister.
“You OK Trish?”
“I’m getting there. I’m no good with this.”
“I know, you can’t handle a hamster dying never mind anything else.
Whenever she heard even the softest draw of a bow across the strings, her heart would break. She knew the music wasn’t his, but she couldn’t escape the haunting melody that repeated in her head. Over and over, without pause. A never-ending minuet bringing her to tears.