The sleet and the snow outside merged into an icy, shellac gray. When stepping into the sloppy mess it went invisible for a moment, then slid away into the next pedestrian’s shoe or boot, with a squish, and a slush, and a grimace of acceptance. The air was intensely cold and I knew as the wind picked up, slicing over the great desert, no amount of salt or chemical upon the sidewalks would keep the sloshy, miserable mess from freezing and turning treacherous.
I stomped upon the already sodden matt at the door, chiding myself for agreeing to come out on this freezing cold day. The smell of coffee in the agreed upon coffee shop helped, who wouldn’t put their head down and seek warmth?
I walked up to the coffee house counter and a young man came forward. I gave a glance around, the place looked clean and the young man across the counter looked healthy.
“I’ll just have a cup of your house and that scone over there — do you make them here?”
“No, we purchase all of our baked goods from a specialized baker here in Tucson.” He spoke to me as he poured my coffee and warmed my scone, telling me by route the baker used only non GMO flour and fresh ingredients, he even handed me a flyer about the place. I took it but never read it.
I sat down as far away from the door as I could possibly negotiate and waited. He said he would arrive at around 6:15 or 6:30, depending how transportation went. I understood. The MTS was usually good — but the weather was a factor. I looked down at my coffee and scone. I was hungry but not for what was before me. I understood our first meeting really couldn’t be for dinner, a coffee shop would make a better excuse for both of us if we took an immediate dislike to one another, he could even glance in and keep walking.
I took a bite of the chalky white scone and thought, now would be a good time for him to walk through the door as I fought the dry pastry in my mouth. I grabbed the coffee hoping that would help me dissolve the mess and felt the inevitable scald on my tongue. I swallowed hard, sat back and attempted to blink the tears out of my eyes, thinking any moment he would walk through the door.
Actually I was able to finish the scone, get my free refill and lose myself in the novel I was reading on my smart phone.
When I looked up I was the only one left in the coffee shop and the night was dark. I got up pulled my bag up to my shoulder and placed my coffee cup and plate into a plastic tub near the counter.
It was 9:15.
The young man behind the counter gave me a small sympathetic smile, as if to say — “he stood you up.”
I smiled down at my now dry shoes, then walked to the door and opened it to the cold and icy sidewalk…