“How is he?” Joe asked as I handed him my ticket for two vanilla lattes.
“As good as he can be, I guess…I don’t know.” I sighed.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Joe cooed, coming around the counter to wipe away a stray tear.
“Jesus am I crying? Is it bad that I don’t notice anymore?”
“Lauren, if you can’t be here right now I get it…”
“I need the money, Joe…and the lattes.” I laughed.
Joe placed the foam topped drinks on my tray and I made my way to table four. As I weaved in and out of the cramped space we called a cafe, I suddenly flashed back to that warm summer night, remembering the handsome stranger I’d come to know as the man I loved. I thought if I were back there, knowing what I know now, would I still go to the club? Would I let him put that sweet pill on my tongue? Would I let him into my guarded heart?
I snapped back to where we were now – months behind on rent and not a word between us. I remember the way the fading sun caught his hair as he smirked to himself, knowing he had gone for it, and I knew – yes. You see, I knew he was still in there. It was just a matter of finding him.
After I wiped down the counters, Joe sent me home. “Are you sure?” I asked, halfway out the door.
“Go home loser,” he said, shaking his head.
I could barely contain myself as I waited for the elevator to take me the six flights we hauled our couch up. I’m pretty sure if I ever took the stairs I’d see the small dent, marking where I’d lost my grip. I laughed to myself, imagining how comical it will be when we finally leave this place for suburbia.
I fiddled through my bag, searching for my keys when I saw the door ajar. And no matter how many times I think back to that moment, I’ll never be able to will myself through the threshold, prepared for what came next.