You hate yourself. That’s what you tell yourself. Stop living too close to yourself, you’ll realise you don’t like what you are. There are people out there who can distract you from you.
The cafe is half-full and it is because there is a toddler screaming in the corner. Her mother is quiet and calmly tells her daughter to behave herself. The screaming gets louder. Piercing. It sounds like breaking bones. Two old ladies leave and shoot the mother a stare which says: ‘you need to deal with this’.
The coffee cup is empty before you know it, so you order another. The waitress disappears. The screams become more amplified. Half words and blubbering. The child doesn’t know what she wants, noone does, she just knows she is missing something. We are all just calling out into a vacuum. The mother picks her child up and embraces her. The child is soothed and calms down.
The cafe refills like it would after a fire drill. People are happy. Well, they look happy anyway.
Another coffee comes. There’s no sugar on your table. You look up to ask for more, but the waitress is already gone.
“So what did you need to talk to me about?” A female form sits opposite. Hands clapped in prayer. Fingers interlocked into a clump of knuckles. The sleeves of her jumper pushed up into folds at her elbows as they rest on the table. She was here the whole time. You were too busy thinking about yourself again. You make her see-through when you act like this.
“Sorry, I couldn’t concentrate with that kid crying.” Preamble. Just another sentence that means nothing. You need to get to the point. You need to deal with this. Stop procrastinating. Her eyebrows raise in a way to ask you to answer her fucking question.
“Frank, if you’ve brought me here to break up with me you could’ve picked somewhere a bit nicer.” A song is playing under the noise of other people’s conversations. You like the song, but today it sounds dreadful. Too much talk. Jumbled words are spoiling something you used to think of fondly.
“There’s my point.” Did you mean to say that or think it? Well, regardless it catches you off guard and with no follow up sentence you’re going to be hit with more fire.
“What’s your point?” Her face screws into a different person.
“You expect too much. Even now.” Concise. You’re getting better at this. Still pretty vague though, Frankie boy.
“Is that so bad? Too expect the person you love to make you happy” And there we go. She’s said it for you. We aren’t happy. Repeat her words back to her so she realises that she said it first. It’s a coward’s way out, but god damn it’s effective.
“I’m not making you happy? I thought so.” Your eyes move to the floor. You look dejected, you think. The song still plays in the background. It’s still dreadful. Fingers fiddle with your cup. Coffee untouched.
“I don’t know why I even bother. You don’t want this,” Her eyes start to shine the way they always do before she cries, “you never have wanted this as much as I have.” She’s right. She is the one who always makes the effort. She is the one who always goes out of her way. And what do you do? You order yourself a cup of coffee and don’t ask if she would like another. You listen to the conversations of other people and remove yourself from your own. Even now, you’re not listening, Frank. She’s still speaking, you know. I guess you’ve been gone for a while.
“You’re right. This has been over for me for some time.” She jolts into a standing position and makes a scrabble for her phone and purse. Hair everywhere. You are certain that the exaggerated movement of limbs is her way of distracting you from the thin shine of water welling in both of her eyes.
“Well, that’s all I needed to hear.” You’re certain that is what she says.
Cycles. This keeps happening. You keep turning off. Where is your staying power? This is de ja vu. This is a reoccurring dream. This is a cafe you keep revisiting. Why do you even come here? You hate the way they make their coffee. It’s too strong for you. You enter here together and leave alone. Self-destruction isn’t the word, but it is the first word that comes to mind.
“A refill?” The waitress returns like she has always done before.
“Yes please,” the words echo. They have been said a thousand times before. “Oh, and some sugar please.” The waitress has already gone. That same dreadful song plays.