Choosing Alone; Writing 101 Challenge – Day 8

Day 8 – Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind. (Part truth, part fiction – TP)

I see her sitting there. Her shoulders hunch, her head is down, a cave unto herself. Buried in the scarf and beany she still wears despite the heat in the coffee shop. Her fingers clutch the cardboard coffee cup as though it is her only lifeline. Perhaps she hopes no one notices the single solitary tear. It lands, a deluge on the glossy wooden table. She drops her head further. I can no longer see her face.

Another is sitting near the window. Her suit is white. Immaculate. Her shoulders are pulled back. She has such straight posture. I wonder if it hurts her to move. The rhythmic glint of her manicured fingernails draws my attention as she drums her fingers on the table. She looks at her phone then out the window. I think she could be waiting for someone.
A grimace crosses her face as she tastes her coffee. Turning her head in quick movements like a crow, she glares at the barista.  If looks could kill. The rhythmic flashing starts again. Apparently she’s waited long enough. Leaving her coffee on the table she collects her bag and heads for the door. I can feel the vibration of every slam of her heels on the floorboards with each harsh step. She looks at no one.

In the table by the condiments sits three girls. They have note pads and computers spread out. One of the text books is a nursing dictionary. The hope of the next generation. They are motionless. Their books are closed. Their fingers slide over their phones. I want to tell them to look up. Talk, laugh, interact. Be young. They are captured by their devices. A slave to the instant, trapped in isolation. The only group in the room and they are alone.

The couple could be strangers. He is reading the newspaper. She is reading a paperback. Perhaps they are not a couple after all. There are still plenty of tables. They don’t need to sit together.  But they do.

No one looks at me. No one sees me. I could be a ghost. A shadow. A wisp of steam.

As I sidle to the bench the barista gives me a smile, and a wave.

Hot or cold? He signs.

I smile. At least he tries. I hand over the scrap of paper that has my order written. He waits. With a grin I sign it. My hands are stiff from the cold.

His head cocks, a slight frown between his brows.

I sign slower.

Hot mint chocolate

Any day with him serving is a good day.
A smile. A wave. An attempt.

To be alone is a choice. Why are you alone today?

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