A Smile in a Fogged-Up Coffee Shop

First published by Edify Fiction in the December 2019 issue (Volume 3, Issue 5)

Ellen stepped off the bus onto a dirty pavement. Christmas Eve. A car horn blared, the driver pressing down overlong, telling the world he was angry. The sun was sinking low and the clouds were heavy, laden with snow, perhaps.

Fat chance - more likely rain. Ellen sniffed the air, hoping for chestnuts and getting diesel instead. Something twisted inside her - she sniffed away a tear. This was her first Christmas in the city.

She picked up the pace, heading for Sullivan's, where Bradley was waiting. Hopefully. Bradley wasn't too punctual. When she arrived, the windows of the café were fogged up. She took a deep breath and opened the door. Hot grease and coffee took over from diesel. Sullivan's sold a lot of fries. She pushed the door shut firmly behind her, shaking off the cold air as she quickly took stock.

Fairy Tale of New York rolled out across the hum of a dozen mingling conversations. Bradley had his head down, studying the menu. Why? He always ordered fries. Eventually he looked up. For a moment his smiled betrayed how pleased he was to see her.

It was then that Ellen first realised that the best moments were the hardest to catch. She snapped that goofy smile into her memory, saving it for later. Fixing it on the hard drive. As she sat down, the hum in the café seemed to fall an octave. Perhaps the wind changed. Perhaps the chef was roasting chestnuts after all.

 ©Donna Brown 2019