Inspired by Billie Holiday

September 13, 2008
She sat in that same little café just off 42nd, staring into that same cup off coffee that refused to give her the answers she was searching for. She sat at that same familiar table snuggled in that same dimly corner, bunched up in that same beat-down red armchair, beneath that same flickering light. As always, she sat there alone, glittering blue eyes occasionally fleeting towards the windowpane where the busybodies of the Big Apple bustled along the sidewalk in the pouring rain, a painting in motion. A picture show. Lights like magic, umbrellas twirling like showgirls in a forever going dance. One glance caught a peck on the lips underneath one particular performer by black-coated lovers, and those sad eyes quickly returned to their search, her stomach having given a momentary lurch at undesired flashbacks and a most uncomfortable feeling of intrusion. She sighed and puffed a strand of golden hair out of her face, leaned back in her chair and took a sip of her poor excuse for an oracle.

They say life is nothing without love. That without it, one is simply an empty shell who is born, lives, and dies, and no matter how many pennies he has in his pocket as he is carried along in his casket, if he has not felt compassion, he has accomplished nothing. This would suggest two ideas. The first being that love is the answer to all problems. This is incredulously incorrect, because, when it comes down to it, love is not the answer, but the cause of all problems. You see there is more than one form of love. A love of money brings forth greed. A love of power brings swindling and conquest. A love of love brings adultery and lust, leaves the prostitute broken and alone on the corner. And the most fatal, a love for another, brings the consumption of the self, and vulnerability. Once one lets go of one’s heart, it hangs from a terribly thin thread, the end of which in the hand of someone who has the power to lift you through the clouds or crush you to hell. This may come across as a bad thing, but thinking of it as so is jumping to conclusions, for just as life is said to be nothing without love, it is also said that it is pointless if you do no live it to the fullest. This notion is correct. An incorrect perception however, is the first mentioned. That life is nothing about love. This is because they are one and the same. Both can bring either joy or pain, and both feed the ravenous hunger of the soul. To be in love is to have achieved the utmost ecstasy. To feel the pain is to die in a sense. To lose your way in the dark. A right of passage.

Our young film student has had her right of passage. As she sipped from the porcelain cup help by two shaking hands, she fought to savor, to focus upon the taste of the coffee. It wasn’t strong enough. It was never strong enough. Never strong enough to kill the urge to fantasize about something that would never happen again. He wasn’t going to come waltzing back to her, so she had to stop. Just stop. As she examined her fingers wrapped around the handle of the mug, she imagined them intertwined in a familiar grasp, and she almost smiled. Almost. But she remembered, and instead frowned. Disgusting. Pathetic. She needed something stronger. Maybe next time she’d go Irish.

The bell tingled, and she lifted her gaze. He entered the room, closed his black umbrella, waltzed up to the counter and ordered an espresso. Son of a b****.

She kept her cup at raspberry lips as she sent her coldest glare like a dagger into the back of his trench coat. Of course, a glare is not in reality a weapon, and he did not share in the slightest fraction of her pain. How she hated him for it.

And so, her evil eye naturally having had no effect, he paid for his espresso and waltzed right back out the door, and for a second, the door and her life were one and the same. The bell gave another little jingle, and he was gone.

It was at that moment that she dropped her cup. She watched it fall to the floor, white porcelain shattering across the floor like a firework beneath the bright lights of the café, her latte forming a puddle at her feet. And suddenly it all made sense.

She dwelled in her memories only because she feared making new ones. Afraid to leave something that had given her happiness behind. The apprehension that comes before continuing on down a dark path after the light you have found has at long last gone out. Fear was her lone enemy. He was forever gone, and it was time to let go.

And so she pushed in her chair and put on her coat, picking up her own black umbrella as she headed towards the door. As her shoes clicked against the ground, she didn’t bother to bend over and clean up the mess she had made, but instead glanced fondly once more at her savior as it trickled along the wood.

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