The morning sun illuminated the small café, casting shadows across the tables. People were rushing in, getting coffee to go, while others sat down with the morning papers or their electronic devices of choice. The distant noise of the kitchen escaped into the dining area, the chat of people filled the space.
Vera sat by the window. She liked it here, enjoyed being able to look out onto the street at people rushing by. An enormous bouquet of white roses lay in the middle of the table. She touched one rose, stroked the soft flower. She looked across the table.
‘White roses. You always gave me white roses.’ The delicate smile on her face did little to hide her inner struggles.
A cheerful server arrived at the table like a tornado, put a large cup of cappuccino in front of Vera, a double espresso opposite her. She looked at the server and smiled. ‘Thank you.’
As the tornado rushed off, Vera looked across the table. ‘Double espresso, just the way you like it.’
She took the spoon from the saucer and played with the foam in her cup, dipped it in the coffee and tried to make a pattern in the foam, but failed. She looked across the table. ‘I never knew how they did that. Butterflies and… I once saw someone make a rose.’
She paused. Looked out the window. People were rushing to their jobs, appointments, or whatever seemed so urgent to them at that moment. ‘I never really liked roses. They’re overrated. I like dandelions, they’re stronger but less pretentious.’ She gave up trying to create a pattern in the foam and gently stirred the coffee.
‘They always struck me like a male fantasy. Here is something I got you, and now you know what I want in return.’ Vera put the spoon on the saucer and touched the flowers. She took a sip and stared across the table with the cup in her two hands.
‘Why did you believe them? Did you really think you going there was going to make any difference?’ She put the cup back on the saucer and looked across the table as if waiting for an answer.
‘You’re quiet today.’ She smiled coldly and looked outside again.
‘It was all lies and you just wouldn’t listen. You bought into that fantasy world.’ Vera gazed across the table and spoke through her teeth.
‘I guess the mine was real.’ She finished her cappuccino, stood up and put her coat on without looking away. ‘I shouldn’t be so harsh on you. It must have been extremely painful, dear.’ She grabbed the bouquet and left.
It was only two streets away. The gate was open, and she entered the cemetery. New graves, old and overgrown. Names of couples that had insisted on being buried next to each other, children. People she didn’t know and would never get to know.
Vera walked up a path towards a grave. Looked at the stone. It was ten years ago today. A barren landscape in a far-away land, soldiers walking across a field when an explosion shattered the small group of men. The authorities sent her a message, said they were sorry for her loss and that he’d served his country well. She lay the flowers on the grave and smiled.
‘It is time to end this. I won’t be coming back, darling. It is time to close this chapter and open a new one. Rest in peace, honey.’
She walked away, never looking back.
This story is the seventeenth installment in the Moments series