She had left the stove on.
Her taxi finally showed up.
She thought someone recognized her from the news.
She was in the restroom. She was in the restroom shooting up. She was in the restroom crying. She was outside smoking a cigarette.
She was ordering coffee. She didn’t drink coffee; she was getting another cup of tea. She was getting chai, specifically, and she couldn’t help but notice that it was too sweet, not nearly as good as the chai her father made with all the patience of a man struggling to preserve something from his life before he’d come here, to this place, to this country.
She was in New York. She was in Seattle. She was in the only small town in Illinois that had a Starbucks.
She worked at Starbucks, but she secretly hated Starbucks coffee and Starbucks atmosphere and the stupid, pretentious Starbucks menu; she wanted a large, not a “venti,” which means twenty in Italian.
She was Italian, or rather, Italian American. She was also a fan of MTV’s The Jersey Shore, and she hated herself for it.
She hated waiting. She’d been waiting for twenty minutes, then thirty, now forty-five. If she hadn’t loved him, she’d have left after ten. But that’s why it had been so important for them to meet today, so that she could end this. Because she loved him so much that even though she hated waiting, she would have waited days, weeks, years to be with him. She would have waited out his marriage, the raising of his children, until he could be hers. She would have waited through her youth, waited out all her own good years for him. And that’s why she’d called him, told him to meet her here, a public place, a café: so that she could tell him that she loved him—she’d never said that before, to him or to anyone else—but that she couldn’t wait anymore. She’d wanted to meet him at a café while the sun was still out, like people do who aren’t having affairs, so that she could end this.
But she’d waited, waited for an hour, and he never showed up, never called, never showed up. As the sun descended, casting red shadows on the sidewalk outside that all looked like him in profile, she gathered her coat about her shoulders and left the café, pages of the week-old newspaper she’d been scanning splayed and still on her table by the window, waiting for another to idly read them while waiting for someone else.