Black Coffee

“I walk the floor, I watch the door and in between I drink … black coooffeee”

Anna leaned back in her chair, one hand keeping contact with her wine glass on the table, and let the jazz wash through her.

She was a regular here and the staff knew she came for the music, so they tucked her in the hideaway tables at the back, where the music swelled and crashed into the walls of the club and flowed back to the stage. The tables near the front were for being seen, the music pulsed over the top of them with barely a ripple.

If you asked her friends, they would have told you that Anna was an intellectual, all logic and data, but with a sense of fun that disarmed you and warmed the world around her. They didn’t know about the music, about the way it fed her soul as nothing else could. They met in funky gastro pubs in up and coming neighbourhoods, she joined them and enjoyed every minute. This place was hers and hers alone. They would find it poky, dingy, and closed in. They’d be put off by the basic bar snacks and limited drinks menu, so she never told them about it. Never asked them to put on a brave face, or look at her with questions in their eyes. This was just for her.

Until that night, as she floated on the ache of the singer’s voice, someone joined her table. She opened her eyes and stared, unbelieving, at the man as he rested his chin in his hand and watched her in turn.

She knew him. Aaron. He was a friend of a friend and occasionally appeared at those gastro pub dinners. He was smart, fun and generous. He did something clever in the finance world but she’d never spent more than a few minutes talking to him. Other members of the group were always so keen to claim his attention, and Brian always wanted to claim hers when he was there. It had come to the stage when she’d check the group invitation and only accept if he wasn’t on it.

Brian was nice enough, but he lacked soul. He had no layers. And, until tonight, she’d have put Aaron in much the same box. She may have been mistaken.

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