THE EMPTY STOOL
She moved but stayed in touch phone calls weekly visits during holidays. She found a nice flat, nice job. But her life still wasn’t nice. Her love for Dave tormented her, it grew stronger than turned to hate, she hated him for giving up the fight, leaving her behind in this world of silence, this hated turned in on herself for hating Dave, she felt guilty.
He always felt close to her, a picture in a locket around her neck close to her heart, she could feel him in the late of night as she tried to sleep, she felt his warm arms round her, his body nestled into hers, his soft voice in her ear. But when she rolled over it was just ghosts of the past, trying to comfort her, but instead haunting her.
The years did try their hardest to try to shield her from the pain, each day things got a little easier, she was beginning to stand once more on her own two feet.
Now today, she entered the cafe, smelt the fresh ground coffee, the breakfasts cooking, the soft music in the background. She went to her usual stool by the breakfast bar, and stopped. It was not empty, someone was there, someone had invaded her privacy, stepped on her life. She glared as the stranger looked up, smiled briefly and locked eyes, she felt his stare and the anger melted, she smiled back, turned round and found a seat by the window, she sat looked out as the waitress brought her usual breakfast. She stared out at the people, then slowly began to realize how much she was missing the outside world, by sitting at the bar instead of the window, and all because of this stranger.
She watched outside, watched people come and go, she then realized she was being watched. She saw his reflection in the window as he stood behind her, how long had he been standing there? She smiled briefly and turned to face him.
“The bloke behind the bar said you like this, so brought you one for apologizing for being in your seat” he put the hot drink down on the tabletop, turned and left the cafe.
She looked at the drink, briefly smiled at the gesture, felt her heart melt, just a little, then was slammed shut, by guilt, her heart was Dave’s, and no one else, she took a sip, it felt good on her lips, she looked up out of the window, and saw him standing there gazing in at her, she nodded in acknowledged and mouthed thank you to him. He smiled and waved before disappearing down the street.
Through the day she thought about the brief encounter, who was he? She hurried home, closed the door and was again alone in the flat. This time she wasn’t alone, she kept thinking of the stranger and the drink, but felt anguish as she had made a promise to be with Dave. She tried to dismiss the encounter as she fell asleep on the sofa.
Next morning, she woke with a different feeling, she had woke thinking of yesterday, she even caught herself thinking she hoped he would be in the cafe today. Then started crying, as she felt she was betraying Dave, by the time she was ready and out, her mood had become solemn, the spark of life, drenched in tears of betrayal.
Seeing the cafe bought a new spring in her step, at least she could return the gesture and buy him a coffee to say thank you , she entered and looked across. Her stool was empty, her heart sank.