She saw him through the window as she approached the coffee shop and momentarily considered stopping in to say hello. They had, after all, spent many mornings here together sipping coffee on the sofa in front of the fireplace, sharing dreams and planning their life together. Sometimes she longed to be back there, in that time before it all unraveled. But not today. Today Sara had other plans.
A quick movement caught her eye and she saw it was Tom, waving at her from inside the coffee shop. In the brief moment that she had stopped to remember, he had spotted her. She smiled and waved back as he motioned her inside. Sara wasn’t sure she was up for this just now and, thinking of her plans, she pointed at her watch. Tom crossed the shop and opened the door.
“Come on, Sara. Just one cup. Come on in and say hello.”
Inside the shop it was cozy and warm and the smooth, rich smell of coffee wafted through the air, mixing with the sugary sweet fragrance of freshly baked pastries. The aroma was intoxicating and Sara felt instantly at home. Helping her off with her coat, Tom signaled to the waitress.
“Sara! It’s been so long. We’ve missed you. What’ll you have?” Jerri’s eyes sparkled when she spoke, jewel-like and blue green like the ocean. She had opals set into the dimples of her cheeks and a tiny silver ring circled the far end of her brow. Sara remembered the first time she saw her, how shocked she had been by her appearance, and then how quickly she came to love her.
“Just coffee, Jerri. Thanks. It’s good to see you too.”
“Still three sugars, one cream?”
“…not too hot. Yes, I remember.” Jerri smiled and made her way back toward the kitchen.
Sara looked across the table at Tom and, taking in a deep breath, she prepared herself. “So, Tom, tell me all about it. How’ve you been? How are the boys?”
“Peter and Norman? Oh they’re great. They’re not here now, though. They’re at home working on our ship. We ran into a bit of problem on our last trip back and the navigation system needs an overhaul.”
“Oh. Where were you coming back from this time?”
“Gavaltar. It’s on the other side of the Far Sun. Beautiful place. Peter lived there for a while when he was younger but Norman had never seen it so we decided it was worth a visit. The ocean there is pink and the sand on the beaches is an iridescent pale blue that sparkles in the moons light. You’d love it, Sara. Maybe you could come with us next time, after we get the navigation system sorted.”
“Maybe. Sounds nice.”
Just then Jerri returned carrying a large, rounded mug and a blueberry scone. “There was just one left and I remember how much you used to love these. On the house. Glad to have you back, Sara.”
Back. Back was something she couldn’t be. But Jerri knew that. Still, it felt good to be here now, to remember. Back is what she had wanted of Tom. Back from the edge. But he didn’t come back; he stepped over and fell off. Off into the abyss of his long lost mind and into the place where he had friends that were ancient and a ship to travel the universe visiting far off worlds that never existed.
As Tom regaled her with tales from the imagined life he had been living since she left, Sara looked down at her watch and decided that, for just this one morning, she would stay. They moved to the sofa in front of the fire and sat as they had on so many mornings long ago. Enough time had passed to heal the hurt, and the stories of Tom’s grand adventures no longer caused her pain. She smiled warmly at the man sitting next to her, the man she had once loved so deeply and passionately that she could not imagine a life without him, and she listened to the life he had imaged without her.
©Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015.
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