coffee and kaleidoscopes


based on a true story

my mom always told me i had a restless spirit.
my personality quizzes told me that my greatest character flaw was taking risks…that I should watch out for poisonous relationships and the wink of a stranger.
but i didn’t. i followed my heart and that’s why i’m sitting here now–green crocheted sweater,
salted caramel mocha with 1/2 the sweetener, and a Taylor Swift song running through my head.
basic white girl, you’re thinking.
broken heart– your lips are forming those two words and i can see them.
but all i really can see is the sun reflecting through the windows, partly through the glass and partly through the blinds.
its shadowy, dark etches around the tables in the corner
light patches on my chair and the one across from me.
like an artist was halfway through sketching and then stopped to take a stroll.
the contrasting colors blur in my head, just like my memories.
i look up, and there is a boy on one of the bar stools, facing the sidewalk, hat pulled low.
his mouth is set in an even line like an unbroken thread.
his eyes move back and forth over his phone.
i can see pictures–a girl with blonde hair, auburn highlights, one dimple, a nose piercing.
she is clinging to another man, and they are both smiling like the world will never die.
the boy looks up, out the window, then back to the screen.
and even though, to them, the world may never die, i can see death in his eyes.
another man at the counter, staring at the green and black menu, going back and forth, counting the cost.
“Two, no one,” he says, stammers.
looks around, at the boy at the window, at me, and sighs.
i can only wonder who he used to order coffee for.
the colors blur again, but this time into my dreams and not my memories.
i look up, and my wrinkled hand closes around my mug.
another hand lies on top of it, smooth and clean, and two bright eyes stare back at me
“grandma what you thinkin bout?”
“when we first met,” a deeper voice replies, and an old gentleman, red plaid shirt and gray pants,
sits down at my side.
he smiles, wrinkles spreading from lips to eyes
and sets a cup on the table–liquidy dark like an americano.
then i look to the bar, and there is another man
Fifties or sixties, a gray beard streaked with white, holding an album, burgundy red and gold.
he turns the pages, and there he is
younger and stronger, with a lovely blonde woman in his arms.
and to them it seems the world will never die.
he passes his fingers under his eye, they come back wet with tears.
and i wonder where she is.
i look to the counter, where a customer stands brooding over the blackboard
red university shirt, smile broad, eyes glowing like his white hair.
“two,” he says, “one for me and one for her.”
“weekend plans?” the barista says as she pours the brew into his cups.
“yes,” he smiles, “and with her it’s the best it can be,” and walks away.
the colors blur again, and neither memories or dreams, but me presently in the chair.
i shake my head to clear it of imaginings, pick up my things and walk toward the door.
the floor is striped with the shadows of the sun, light and dark, light and dark
it looks warm outside.
i nod to the boy at the bar looking at his phone, and
i smile at the man waiting for his coffee,
and walk outside.
the crisp air floods my senses and blows my scarf away.
i see it whoosh across the sidewalk, green on gray, green on gray, over and over,
like a tumbleweed in the desert,
until a hand grabs it.
“here you go,” he says, “glad i caught it.”
i smile, blush, say thank you, and turn to go.
“like this place much?” he motions toward the coffee shop.
“what’s your favorite?” he smiles as i fumble with my purse, acting distracted.
“salted caramel. yours?”
“just espresso and water. americano they call it. i know i’m weird.” he laughs.
i smile, barely hearing his voice as he asks me if i want a drink
barely feeling my feet as they pull me back toward the door
barely hearing my heart beat louder and louder as he smiles again at me.
barely noticing the rainbow blur around me
my dreams, my imaginings, my past, my future
restless, like me, glowing with shifting patterns, roaming, following the wind’s imaginings,
red, blue, lime, purple, gold–kaleidoscope of color–
reminding me that endings are not all happy
but the plot can change with just a gentle breeze.


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