Flash Fiction- Theme- Summer
Sitting at the coffee shop, Paul stares out the window. His mind is reeling with thoughts about the work he misses, about his retirement party a few years ago, about his late wife, and where he wants to go in life. He taps his thumbs on the table, waiting for his name to be called.
“Paul, your iced coffee and warmed banana nut muffin are ready.”
Paul climbs to his feet, shuffling over to the barista. He thanks her and takes his items. He shuffles back to the table and sits down, his eyes wandering back out the window.
He picks up his coffee and takes a sip. The cold drink slides down his throat and brings him pure happiness. He closes his eye and sees his wife at 18 when they first met dancing in the rain. She is sliding down a slide then swinging at a park.
She’s laughing, her laughter ringing strongly through the air while her sparkling gray eyes filling with tears. He can hear her singing to their first-born son while the baby cooed and grabbed for her curly red hair. Paul can hear her praising their twin daughters on their dancing after one of their recitals.
Paul opens his eyes and looks around, half expecting his wife, Shannon, to be sitting across from him. But the chair sits empty. He lowers his head, brushing his gray hair back. Time for a haircut. Shannon would be on him about it. He can hear her voice in his ear, complaining about how it’s getting too long.
Paul chuckles to himself as he takes a bite of his muffin. The soft, warm muffin tickles his taste buds and makes him smile.
He never liked banana nut muffins, but she did. He was more of a blueberry kind of guy. But today is a special day, so he bought one. He takes another bite and chews up the nuts while he stares outside.
A young woman with bright red hair leaning on a young man with short black hair walk past. He sets the muffin down in alarm. That hair is strikingly similar to his wife’s hair.
The couple walks inside the coffee shop complaining about the heat. The young woman looks around, her gray eyes picking out a table for them to sit at. Gray eyes! Just like his Shannon’s eyes!
But she passed away a month ago after her 87th birthday, so it can’t be her? Right?
Paul shakes his head and closes his eyes for a minute. When he opens them and looks at the woman. Red hair, gray eyes, and a smile that could light up a room.
Paul stands and shuffles over to the little bar the coffee shop has for creamers, sugars, and such. He gets a napkin and a fork, taking his time. The young woman orders an iced coffee and asks for salted caramel to be added. Just the way Shannon takes her iced coffee… took her coffee.
Paul rubs his face and shuffles back to his seat, sitting down. He struggles against the tears that threaten to slide down his wrinkled cheeks. A sob catches in his throat when he sees the young lady carrying a plate with a banana nut muffin. Just like his Shannon.
Doing his best to ignore the couple, Paul pulls his newspaper closer. His eyes scan the titles, but the words don’t stick. Abandoning the paper, he cuts the muffin with his fork and takes a bite. He coughs as his throat closes on him, choking him. Paul grabs his drink and takes a sip, hoping it’ll help.
It only makes matters worse, and he feels the liquid slip past the muffin and down the wrong tube. He drops the drink, the liquid spilling on the floor as he struggles to his feet.
The other patrons turn to see the old man struggling to clear his airway. Everyone just stares, unsure of what to do. The young woman drops her plate and coffee and runs over to him. Before she can reach him, Paul falls to the ground.
Paul stares at himself as the woman starts giving him CPR while her boyfriend calls 9-1-1. “She looks so much like you, Shannon.”
“I know, love.”
Paul chuckles. “She even complains about the summer heat like you always did.”
Shannon laughs as she slips her hand into his. “Paul, sweetheart, it’s time to go now.”
Paul looks at the spilled iced coffee. “I didn’t even get to finish my drink.” He grumbles. “I hate not being able to finish my drink.”
Shannon squeezes his hand. “Come on, you stubborn old man. We need to go.” Shannon pushes back her long red hair and turns Paul so he is looking at her.
Paul’s age melts away until he is back to being in his early twenties. Short, shaggy brown hair, and the brightest blue eyes anyone has ever seen. He brushes her hair from her face. “I’ve been waiting for you, my love.”
“And I have been waiting for you.”
They lean in and kiss before turning and walking over the spilled iced coffee and out the front door. The bell rings above the door, but no one turns to look at it. Hand in hand, Paul and Shannon walk into the light together.