I’m a little late with today’s piece, I’m in Waikerie for my gorgeous Koumbara’s baby shower. I can’t wait to meet Baby Walker! (I know his name and you can’t get it from me no matter what you do!) So today’s piece is actually one of my own. I wrote for the Espresso Shot: Lentils as Anything edition. Leave me a love note. And send in your stories for more sharing sunday editions.
The cafe was busy, bustling with life and smiling; it was alive. I wasn’t. I twirled t never-ending circle around my left finger and scanned the room, my half finished latte now cold. The sun was out, but I huddled into my shawl harder and let my eyes linger on the windows. I watched as people moved along with their lives, like nothing bad was happening. What was wrong with them? People were hurting and they were oblivious to it. A piece of me was missing and with it, my smile.
‘Excuse me. is anyone sitting ?’
I looked up and was met with a pair of green eyes that ripped the air from my lungs.
‘W-what?’ I said.
‘Do you mind if I sit here, or are you waiting for someone?’
I was waiting for a ghost that would never come home.
An ache gripped around my heart and squeezed tighter with every syllable he spoke.
‘Um, I should…go.’ Coward, I thought.
‘No, please. Stay. Let me buy you another coffee. The café is full and that chair is the last one free. I hope you don’t mind me interrupting you. You looked deep in thought.’
How can someone interrupt years of mourning?’
‘I…’ I wasn’t going to lie, I wanted to run away. The way that he looked at me made my insides cringe. I felt a thin sheen of sweat break out on the back of my neck. I couldn’t hide behind the hurt anymore. ‘I like a shot of caramel in my late.’
‘Atta girl, I’m Joey, but you can call me Joe.’ He held out his hand and I stared. There were callouses on it where there hadn’t been on Henry’s. I reacted out and my hand hesitated when it hadn’t all those years ago. Terror thrummed through my body and I swallowed the lump in my throat as I took his hand in mine and shook it, the smooth hand I remembered was replaced by rough worker’s hand.
‘Nice to meet you, Hallie. I’ll be right back.’
I let out a shaky breath and looked at my hand while I shifted in my chair to try and get comfortable again. A mug crashed to the floor; it shattered and made me jump. My knew hit the table and I remembered the loud noises, Henry in my arms, blood on my white dress and his eyes, the colour of fresh cut grass, disappearing from view.
‘Are you okay?’ I jumped against and started at Joe. No words came to mind to answer his question.
I shook my head, my fingers plying with my ring again. He tried again. ‘Why are you sitting alone, Hallie?’
I looked away; his green eyes were drilling a hole into my skull. I knew I needed to talk to someone, but while I was trained to help others, I had trouble following my own good advice. I took a deep breath and started at my hands as I kept playing with my ring.
‘My husband, Henry. He’s…he was murdered four years ago and I keep waiting for him to walk in and smile at me.’
With every word, the ache in my chest sharpened and I jumped when Joe’s rough hands covered my fidgety hands. I forced my eyes t met his and he looked at me with respect, with understanding. Had he lost someone too? Did that mean that I wasn’t alone?
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