The Girl in the Cafe

“el cafe” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by cristian_menghi

Rain pelted down the windows like it always did. Her reflection peered back at her in the glass from behind the raindrops.

The smell of the coffee, the clatter of plates, distant chatter, all noises that had become the soundtrack to her Tuesday afternoons.

The same seat. The same table. She liked it that way. The routine. She was making a point. Her life had become monotonous. Predictable. The same song playing over and over, until it lost all meaning.

She could feel herself slipping through the cracks in the pavement — the very same pavement she walked every day to the same platform, the same train, the same job. The same people.

Yet, despite the unerring sense that she was an animal caught on a treadmill, something strange had happened. Something which gave her hope. Something unlike all the other predictable pieces of her life. She had got a new job, on a rather spur of the moment decision.

For so long now she had felt like a completed jigsaw. All of the pieces she would find, all of the pieces she would get, were now slotted together. The picture they made was… a disappointment to her.

She figured though, at the age of twenty-three, her face would never be more beautiful than it was now, her figure never firmer or more enticing, her hair never glossier or more tempting to would-be lovers.

Her mind, for good or bad, was what it was. She figured she would not wake one morning to find a dark corner of her brain had mysteriously switched on, giving her knowledge, powers or an insight into the workings of the universe which had previously eluded her.

Though she would continue to read books and newspapers on an almost daily basis, she reasoned that all this amounted to was garnering facts, trivia and the opinions of others. They would pile up in her head like junk mail on the doormat of an empty house, but would not give her a greater sense of the world or who she was.

Now, though, on the eve of discovering the consequences of her rash decision to change jobs, she found herself in her favourite café, a buried treasure which lay quietly amongst the brasher, noisier franchises of coffee shops and restaurants, contemplating why it did feel like she had discovered an extra piece for her jigsaw. Though she could not immediately see there was a place for it.

It was such an eerie feeling to have, and she would struggle to put it into words for anyone who would ask her to explain it. Slim chance of that, she knew, few people ventured down into the deeper cobwebs of her mind — her obvious beauty put paid to that. Most conversation which came her way was purely foreplay, a glib little dance which preceded her being asked out for a drink, for yet more barely disguised foreplay.

She realised from about the age of seventeen that whatever it was men sought in a woman to ease the terrible burden of their sex drive, she appeared to have been born with it in abundance. It was all too easy. It was all too boring.

Yet this same street, where she always found herself on a Tuesday afternoon, beneath dark mottled clouds, always bursting into straight sheets of rain just as she crossed the road, raincoat buttoned up tight, had today offered her a new choice, a new place to sit and drink her coffee and think; new direction to go.

She purposefully stood, moved to a new table at which she had never sat, gazed out the window through the humid steam of her coffee, and smiled.

Something was going to happen here, and it would change everything.