Thursday, April 14, 2011

The coffee shop

That lane of my dreams, sometimes clear cut in one patch, sometimes a subdivision banging up behind a thin veil of trees, this time was almost pristine, feral.

Except for the coffee shop at the near end. But I get ahead of my dream.

I lean out the door to put out a bowl of cat slop. It is spring warm joy and I break into a sprint, barefoot in jeans go running, kicking wet fallen leaves and, topless, make a run for the back lane. It is late evening, the sky just starting to tilt towards blues.

As I jump, my breasts contain themselves, not flipping and flopping as they might on the mid-air somersaults I'm doing. There is life in my muscles and breath.

I freeze. I hear conversation and the gravel-crush-twists of people walking. I hit the ground and curl over my chest, toss some leaves for camouflage over my bare back, make like a mushroom just coming out of the ground.

The male feet in dress shoes pass near but I don't move, don't look up, don't know if I've been seen. There isn't a pause enough in their strides to be clearly a pause rather than just unevenness.

Things are quiet but there's more sound in a distance. I sit up and notice a coffee shop has sprung up and the lights beam out yellow and white like the Star of Bethlehem past the fanned out smells of coffee being ground. I stand and go inside.

It's crowded and loud with conversation and orange walls. A lot of men proportionally. I gawk around, notice the work clothes at the bar and the back of the barista going in back. There's a transitory radio staticking away to itself on the ledge between the bar and the kitchen in back.

I look around at the card tables and conversations leaning in. One man sits at a table of 3 but doesn't seem to be with the other 2, socially or mentally. His face is all stubble and food stains and crumbs and gut overhanding his belt like a second person, and he has struggles to get up out from under his belly but he's done it and stands with a haze over his eyes as if he's spent the day at a different kind of bar. I feel myself being watched. He stares at my breasts and I realize that he thinks that skin is some kind of signal. I back up a step bump the chair. It scraped the chair. I look back and ahead and he's doggedly making his way towards my chest. From that distance he already smells heavily of unwashed sweat. He reaches down and unzips his pants at which point I decide on reaction and dash for the entryway.

On the shelf in the cloakroom closet is a little girl's purple knit sweater. I pull it on. It fits me more like a bolero jacket but is soft and warm and I'm covered. I return to my stool.

A little child waddles up to me and wants to be lifted. I move to lift the child and, realize, on placing him or her on my knee that the child is soaking wet and smelling heavily of pee. How can the child be sopping, legs to shoulders? A woman approached me and scoops the child up to her chest and apologizes if her baby was bothering me. I shake my head and she asks if I work there or do I happen to have diapers on me.

I said C might have some in the back and pointed to the barista who waves. The woman thanks me and said, think ahead as you like but you can never carry enough diapers.

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