The Coffee Lady
The Coffee Lady
I sit and watch her from my corner booth,
and I wonder what her life is like.
She flits from table to table offering
refills to all who wish it. Her hips are
thick as tree trunks, her painted-on smile
neon red, the lines on her forehead clearly
visible as she draws closer. What I notice most
is the hollow sadness in her eyes, deeper than
any wishing well. Even when she puts on
that phony smile the eyes remain the same.
I look out the dirty window of the cafe
and drift off into a dream. It's as though
I can see her life flashing before my eyes.
A scruffy little girl with crooked teeth and
a soiled dress. Mommy yelling, yelling
about something. Always something.
Daddy loves his little one, in ways that no
daddy has the right to. She never cries,
sucks it up, puts on a brave face at school.
Never gets above a C in any of her classes.
I see her now at 14 year with braces
and a baby bump. Her boyfriend is 12, not
even old enough to be called a teenager much
less a man. Still, they love each other in their
own strange sort of way. Daddy won't love
her anymore. She doesn't mind.
At 16 she leaves home, baby in tow, boyfriend
long since moved on. For a time she lives from
one house of benevolence to the next, until the
charity runs dry. I espy her and the baby in the
alley that runs behind the cafe, both crying and
alone. Finally, she can cry. The cafe owner
hears a noise out back and decides to investigate,
gun in hand. When he sees what he sees he
is moved with pity. He stretches out his hand
and says to her,
She follows him inside to a room above
the little cafe and to her surprise there is a
made bed, a crib, and other items suitable
for a night's stay. He says to her,
"This room used to be my daughter's. Like
you, she had a little one to care for. Now they are
He stops there. Not another word as he leaves
the room and closes the door. For now, she feels safe.
There she is at 18, working at the little cafe for
going on 2 years. Baby is three now, strong and
healthy, a spitting image of her mommy. The owner
of the little cafe loves his coffee lady, in ways that
perhaps a boss shouldn't...
"Sir, would you like a refresh?"
Suddenly I find myself back to reality. I look up
at her - that forced smile, the lines on her forehead
more deeply etched than I imagined, and those
sad, sad eyes. I've never seen such beautiful blues
as hers. A deep ocean they are, two seas existing
side by side. I'm guessing that she's 30, though
she looks much older.
I stutter, "Uh, yes ma'am, please. And thanks."
I watch her walk away, and as I sip on
the best cup of coffee I've ever had,
I wonder what her life is like.
Copyright © The Seeker | Year Posted 2017