Category Archives: This is a story I plan on submitting to a contest so feedback would be great to get. It is still a work in progress.

Coffee With Milk

“You don’t have to walk in with me,” she said, as she climbed out of the car and closed the door with a sharp click. She smoothed the travel wrinkles from her tailored slacks and straightened her jacket, setting her purse strap snugly on her right shoulder.
“I know. I know. I want to,” he said as he walked quickly to the trunk and grabbed the suitcase waiting there. “Maybe if we talk some more…”
“It’s not going to make a difference, Walt. My mind’s made up. And you promised not to nag me.” She walked toward the entrance to the train station.
“I won’t nag,” he said as he caught up to her. He grabbed her arm and forced her to face him, “I just want to talk some more. I love you, Anna.”
She shook her arm free and walked toward the glass doors. “You keep saying it, Walt; maybe you should have remembered it before you…” She glanced at him as he caught up with her; his face was gray and his eyes were dark above the purple stained half-moons under them. “All right, Walt, wait with me for my train.” She smiled softly and looped her arm through his free arm.
He smiled and said, “Great! I’ll buy you a coffee in the coffee shop.” He let go of her arm and opened the big glass doors leading into the train station.
She walked through and he followed her into the pandemonium of the station. They walked by a woman seated on a bench near the doors, who one-handedly pushed a stroller back and forth as she tried to sooth a crying baby. With her other hand she held a toddler on her lap, who was also loudly crying. They walked past a group of young Brownies and Daisies, all in uniform, running around, screaming and screeching. Near the security gate there was a large family surrounding a man in uniform, all hugging and talking at once.
Anna paused in front of the lighted board that listed all the trains scheduled for the day. Her train to D.C. was running on time, and should be in within the hour. She had time for a quick coffee before heading to the security gate. She glanced at Walt, looped her arm through his again and started toward the coffee shop.
They walked into a relative oasis of calm inside the coffee shop. “Here, you pick out a table and I’ll get the coffees,” Walt said as he turned to hand the suitcase to her.
“All right,” she said, taking the small suitcase from him. She walked to a fairly clean table and set the suitcase on the floor. She grabbed a couple napkins from the dispenser and wiped away some crumbs. She sat facing the doorway, positioning herself so she could watch the large clock on the wall above the departures schedule and all of the people rushing to and fro.
“Here you go,” he said. He put a paper coffee cup in front of her and sat opposite her at the small table.
She opened the lid and took a small exploratory sip. With a grimace, she put it down.
“What’s the matter?”
“It has cream in it.”
“Yeah, regular. That’s how you take it.”
“With milk.”
“What?”
“Milk, not cream.”
“Since when?”
“Always.”
“No, you always have it regular.”
With a sigh she answered, “Regular, but with milk, Walt. All these years, regular with milk.” She shook her head and stared over his shoulder at the clock.
“Anna, why are we talking about coffee? I want to talk about…”
“You know what, Walt? It really isn’t about what you want anymore.”
“What, you want to talk about coffee?” he said.
“I don’t want to talk at all. I’m all talked out. Everything that needs to be said has been said.”
“You don’t believe me, do you? I swear it’ll never happen again. It was a one time thing and totally unimportant.”
“Maybe to you. It was important to me, though—helpful even.” She stared out over his head into the train station.
“Helpful?” He tilted his head and frowned.
She glanced back at him and said, “Yes, it helped me make up my mind. Or really helped me change my mind.”
“I promise it will never happen again,” he reached across the table and grabbed her hand.
Pulling her hand back and laying it in her lap she said as she looked down at her hands, “Walt, promises don’t matter. Actions matter and if I mattered to you, you wouldn’t have done it.”
“I can’t believe you’re doing this to get back at me.”
Looking at him again, she shook her head and said, “That’s not what this is. This is a well thought out decision.”
“Thought out?” He tipped his head to the side again as he looked at her, his expression quizzical.
“Yes, calculated, determined, and thought out. For years I really wanted to do this, I even had dreams about it, but I was willing to…oh, never mind. We’ve been through this.”
“But I still don’t understand,” he said as his expression changed from puzzled to something else, something closer to hopeless.
“You don’t want to. I’ve explained it and explained it. I’m not going through it again,” she said as she stood and reached for her suitcase.
He started to get up, too. She rested her hand on his shoulder. “No, you stay here and finish your coffee.”
His face looked desperate as he pointed to her still full coffee cup. “You didn’t drink yours,” he said.
She glanced at the coffee cup and then at him before she bent to wrap her fingers around the suitcase handle, “I don’t know whose coffee that is; I drink my coffee with milk, not cream.”
She picked up her suitcase and walked out of the coffee shop.

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