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Black Coffee and Affairs

Hannah McCleskey, guest writer

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by Hannah McCleskey

He met her in a cafe a block away from his small apartment that was nicely decorated and clean. He did not know her and she knew nothing of him, but he knew that he loved her and he wanted so badly to know her. Before she could leave the cafe with her to-go cup of plain black coffee, he asked for her name. When she gave it to him, he expressed to her how beautiful he thought she was. She was flattered by his compliment and responded by giving him a number and an address written on a slightly coffee-stained napkin. They exchanged texts, called each other, and met whenever they could. He was falling more in love with her with each text, each phone call, and each moment he got to see her.

When they did meet he’d study her face, every little detail of it, as if he’d never see her again. He loved the light freckles that dotted her cheeks and the way her laugh lines stood out when she smiled. Each thing she would see as an imperfection couldn’t be more perfect in his eyes. On a cool November day at the cafe a block away from his small apartment that was nicely decorated and clean, he asked her to go with him. She responded with a blushed smile and said, “Yes.” He showed her his apartment and everything in it, and a couple weeks later she moved in. He couldn’t have been happier. She was here and he was certain he loved her and needed her in his life, so on a warm March day at the cafe a block away from their small apartment that was nicely decorated and clean, he asked her to marry him. She responded with a joyful smile and loving embrace that made him feel warm long after it was over.

They had a small wedding with a few friends and family members. They spent the honeymoon in their small apartment and made a home for themselves. Not long after the honeymoon phase was over, she would leave the apartment and disappear for hours. He often wondered where she went since her job required her to work from home and didn’t ask her to leave as often as she did. He soon worked up the courage to ask her why she left so much. She responded with an eye roll and a comment that burned and smelled slightly of alcohol, but when she realized the shock that formed on his face, she kissed him on the cheek, told him that she loved him and then disappeared into the bedroom.

Over time their small apartment that was nicely decorated and clean started to look untidy and dark, but he continued to love her and say nothing. Each comment he made about her messes or her frequent trips led to a vile comments that burned his heart, but he stayed. He told himself that she loved him and if he loved her he wouldn’t care where she went or how she kept their small home. He did love her, so he would let her go on her trips while he cleaned their apartment only to have it wrecked again the next day. A couple weeks later after a sleepless night filled with alcohol-driven comments and a few stinging slaps, he went down to the cafe that was a block away from their small apartment that was cluttered and messy, and ordered a to-go cup of plain black coffee to make amends for the night before. As he got ready to leave, he felt a hand touch his shoulder. The hand belonged to a man that looked tired from nights spent drinking and getting high in bathrooms. He said he was twenty-five but looked years older. The young man had told him where his wife frequently went and what she was doing while she was gone. He shoved the young man and told him that whatever went on in their lives was none of his concern. He stopped outside the door when the young man responded with a tired comment that made his head spin and his heart ache.

He ran home and locked himself in the bedroom and cried. The woman he had fallen so deeply in love with had slept with another man, a young man that visited the cafe that was a block away from their small apartment that was once nicely decorated  and clean. He thought about every detail on her face and how he loved everything about them, and how he loved her even though she would tell him he was worthless. He then realized she had not really loved him. Everything he felt was one-sided. He had given her all his happiness and love and in return he got drunken yells, agonizing comments, and slaps across the face. He would not defend himself because he felt she was right. If he was smart he would’ve seen it coming, he would’ve left her when it all became dark, but he loved her and never wanted to believe that she was as dark on the inside as her plain black coffee, so he stayed.

He had lost all happiness and couldn’t face her, knowing what she had done to him, and still feeling childish for being completely in love with her. So he took a clean pair of white sheets out of a drawer and tied it around the fan that hung from the ceiling above the bed, and made a noose that fit perfectly around his neck. He took two steps and fell from the bed, hanging from the makeshift noose that caused him to see flashes of light and hear hissing sounds in his ears. On that day in their small apartment that was untidy and dark, he died. He left only one note that contained three words: “I love you.” He let her secrets die with him a block away from the cafe where it began, in his small apartment that was once nicely decorated and clean.


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Black Coffee and Affairs