An old boyfriend stopped by the inn today. "How do you take your coffee?" I asked. I had forgotten how he liked it. I didn't even want to offer him coffee, but he near insisted. I had just stepped out of the powder room on the first floor and noticed he had left a note, inviting me to join him upstairs. The evergreens on the rail poked my bare skin all the way up, and the smell of fresh pine reminded me it was Christmas. It was Thanksgiving a year ago that I left him. I got my life back and left him. It was my mother that saw me in my misery. My mother, God, and well, everyone else I suppose.
He had on that same old stained navy sweatshirt. Stained with tears and blood and all his sickness too. "Illinois," the sweatshirt read, stitched in bright red-orange and blue. He had stopped by to give the old thing back to me and some other things too. Things like old kitchen spoons and a painting I had forgotten about.Things I didn't even want anymore. Things that just made me think of him and how miserable we used to be.
I set the items on the deep ledge of the window sill and made my way back downstairs. He followed me past the powder room and into the kitchen, and that's when he asked for the coffee. I gave him what was left in the pot- a black sludge that had sat stale for over three hours. Wishing he would leave, but remembering his tendencies, I carried on with our meeting pretending he was just a customer. I warmed his scone and placed two golden butter pads on his plate. He spoke to me as if I was interested and lingered as if I cared, but those days I'd long forgotten.
He helped himself to more coffee, and to more of my time, and I thought of all the things I would rather be doing. But he still wanted more. He always did. I cleared his plate and empty coffee cup, and he turned to me as we left the kitchen. "Black," he said.
"Black?" I asked. Like the way we used to be? How easily I'd forgotten. For now he was just a customer.