As I pulled the brass door handles at the bookstore toward me, and followed the green carpet worn smooth by soles, to the cafe, and the smellscapes filled the room, I said, “A medium house coffee and medium hot chocolate, please,” and reached for my wallet to pay.
The cashier canted her head to the left and wore a quizzical look, but she slid the steaming cups towards me, and took my debit card.
I thanked her and turned to hand the hot chocolate to where you’d be, with your smile at another cup of hot chocolate.
“Sir, is the hot chocolate for someone with you?” the cashier asked.
“Thank you,” I said, “yes, um, thank you.”
I flushed at how I must’ve appeared to the girl behind the counter–a man ordering a coffee for himself, and a hot chocolate for someone the cashier didn’t see.
But I was sure I’d press the warm cup into your hand, and see you smile, and reach my fingers to your free hand and bring our hands to my lips to kiss, and peruse shelves of my favorite writers, and relearn what Wallace Stevens’ line that “being there together is enough” means.
But the cashier was kind, and only smiled at me, as I discovered what we both missed: you.