Sunday, 15 April 2018

The cafe - short story by Dinesh Kaulgud

They walked into the cafe and sat in the back, homing in on the empty chairs like a heat seeking missile.

‘I’m telling you, these places are just rubbish,’ he said as they took off their jackets and placed them on the chair.

He plonked into the chair and pulled out his iPhone.

He stared at it for a minute and then put in on the table before picking up the phone again. He swiped his finger on the table and said, ‘This table is not cleaned in donkey’s years.’

She looked around the café. Her forlorn eyes were trying to find comfort in other peoples eyes. Not finding anyone, She closed her eyes and took a breath as the swirling emotional turmoil inside her threatened to overflow.

He continued oblivious to hear emotional status, ‘they are just interested in profits; nothing more. They don’t even staff these places adequately. If I was running this place, it would be completely different.’

She did not respond. The maelstrom inside her made it difficult to even breath – Why did he go? Did he not know that I love him? Not a word. Why did he not say a word before he disappeared? Did he even love her?

‘Ok, I will place our order – coffee for you – the usual, Latte with skimmed milk?’

She looked at him emptily.

‘I won’t be a minute.’

He got out of his chair and walked to the counter.

She listened to the voices from across the tables and the pop music from the speakers. Memories flooded into her. Walking into her room to find it empty – Empty of the one person who had filled her life. Who had bought her joy and love. And who had always bought her favourite coffee – a skinny Americano with double shot expresso. Where had he gone? Why did he leave her?

‘Here you go,’ he said as placed the coffee cup in front of her.

‘I’m keen to expand the business. There is a huge market out there. So I will be travelling to Dubai and India next week. Not long though. Just a couple of weeks. I hope you will be able to stay away from me for two weeks.’

Something gave way within her and a silent tear trickled down her cheek. She tried to keep her emotions in check. But the burden was too much. She began to sob silently.

He got out from his chair, ‘Are you ok? Please don’t cry. You know that business is important. You need to hold yourself together. It is just a matter of two weeks.’

He held her as her shoulders heaved and the emotions poured out from within her. A few other customers looked up from their coffees and then turned away.

After a while she sat upright again.

He kissed her and sat back in his chair.

He whipped out his Iphone and swiped across the screen. ‘So the way I see it, we can meet up after two weeks. We can go to the Lakes. I own a large house besides the lake Windermere. It is beautiful. I will call my children there. You have met them right – George and Anna. It will be a great family holiday. Don’t worry, everything will be fine…’

As his voice droned on, she looked through her tear filled eyes at him. She could make out a young man with a laptop who was sat just behind him. The Laptop man stared at her. He then began typing furiously on his laptop. What was he writing?

The Laptop man looked at her again and continued typing. She shivered involuntarily. After a few minutes he got up and walked to the toilet.

She too stood up and took her purse indicating that she wanted to go the toilet.

She walked towards the toilet but stopped near the writer’s table. His laptop was unlocked. She read what was written.

It was a café scene.

She felt like she had been punched in her gut – in a few short sentences, the Laptop man had described her and written her life situation accurately. He knew exactly what she was going through!

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