Short Espresso

It was a lovely winter day. A white blanket covered the streets and sidewalks. The snow, pure and immaculate, was vulnerable to our every step. As beautiful as winter may appear, we have nonetheless developed a love-hate relationship with it. True, the pendulum in our psyche tends to swing more towards the hate “pole”. By the end of February, hate suddenly transforms itself into utter frustration. Mother Nature becomes deaf: she cannot hear our desperate cries!

Nevertheless, it was particularly mild on this day and Antonio was enjoying the fresh air. It was his favourite moment of the day; he had a purpose. He wore black leather gloves, a thick scarf, yet no winter boots. He walked, or skated, in his four-season shoes. A red light brought him to a halt, an abrupt pause to his otherwise good pace. His feet were wet and heavy. There were no cars in sight. “Ma che ca… am I waiting for, a crossing-guard?” he spoke softly to himself. He glided onto the other side of the street gracefully, thanks to his wooden soles. He sparked a cigarette and entered the coffee shop. The aroma of the coffee beans and her quick hand movements spread joy about the room. She was at her usual spot.

The serenity of the bar always aroused deep thoughts within him. He often wondered why his parents came to Canada. The harsh reality: their mother country, Italia, could not breastfeed its children anymore. It was impoverished and bankrupt. Like thousands of others, his parents sailed by boat filled with tears and sadness, immigrants who had nothing but their hearts full of hope. Antonio had only thirty minutes to spare on his lunch hour. In Italy, he would have had two or three more hours to enjoy this crowd and admire her. He cursed history!

“One short espresso – very short … for a very long afternoon,” requested Antonio.

“The usual, Antonio,” replied Bianca, her face covered by a shy smile.

“No sugar, please… since you’re making it. That’s enough to give me a sugar rush.” He winked at her, clumsily.

He swallowed the short, fiery coffee in one gulp. He felt re-invigorated. Perhaps today he would ask Bianca out to a movie, a drink or lunch… Instead he asked her for a glass of water to remove the bitter taste in his mouth. Forse domani…

Gaetano di Falco is a Montreal freelance writer, self-described bookworm and film buff.

First published in Accenti Magazine, Issue 2.

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