Prose and Poetry

Sugar

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JUST outside the windows of the coffee house, people were walking around in their umbrellas. Little children wearing their colourful raincoats. A group of the said tiny humans could be seen splashing and jumping into tiny puddles; their boots keeping them dry and their smiles and giggles constant. The traffic was mellow for the season demanded a thin crowd. The sun slowly receding; the weather was at it’s most unique. Cold winds gushed past scarfed chins and gloved hands. Though people were used to the rain here, but the cold chills belonged mostly to the winters, and was hence a rarer visitor; but a combination of both – rarest.

The barista came along and placed the cappuccino on Ronald’s table.

“I’ll need more sugar.”, he said with a smile.

“Of course.”, the barista smiled back and complied.

Ronald stirred his beverage, and he ran through the pictures on his cloud. He had been scrolling down the images, going back several years into the past; sipping the coffee gently and licking off the foam successively as his favourite coffee place played, “I’ll be there soon”.

The barista stood behind the counter, wiping the cups dry. He noticed his quiet customer busy with his phone, just smiling occasionally and looking up simultaneously to ensure no one noticed his personal reason of mirth. The barista was accustomed to this customer’s ways. Previous attempts to strike a conversation had failed. Today was special though. He was usually accompanied by a book.

“Introverts keep this place running.”, The barista said to himself.

As he swiped his thumb up the screen, he was distracted by something that was caught by the corner of his eyes. A little girl was staring at him. Under her purple raincoat, she was giggling outside in the drizzly weather, rubbing her upper lip with her tiny finger. Ronald realized she was attempting to bring to his attention the foam over his lips. He used the napkin and looked at the little girl, and gave a wide smile. The girl waved at him and returned to her friends.

Taking another sip, Ronald returned his attention to the phone.

What he saw led the time around him to freeze.
Realizing he mustn’t let the coffee spill over him, he managed to place the cup on the table with a herculean clatter. He looked up at the bartender who was already staring at his direction.

“No worries, Robert! The china is still intact.”
Robert returned a warm smile as he continued with his chores.

On his device was a picture of a girl. He knew her too well. But the  memory was over 10 years old. Scrolling down further now as if his breathing depended on it; uncovering more pictures of her. Pictures of those bygone days. Those late night calls, gentle kisses and warm embraces. His mind was travelling back into time. His mind over which he now had no control.

*******

“Pictures are the real time machines.”, she said, fixing her hair behind her ear as she used his phone to click another selfie.
“Years from now you’ll recall this moment when you see this picture.”, she continued, gracing him with her perfect smile.
At 20, and completely in love with the girl, Ronald just managed to blush. Her voice, he believed, was borrowed from angels. This belief was stemmed from the fact that she also sang well.
“Sing for me again.” he said, rolling towards her in the bed.
“Why don’t you sing for a change?”, she said, clearly hiding her smile.
“But I sound like a mad cow.”, he said, trying to pout. “We agreed that you’ll do the singing and I’ll do the poetry.”, he said, hiding a smirk. “And then with consent, we’ll eventually do each other.”, he laughed, and she hit him with the pillow.

“Shutup!”, she muttered, pinching his cheek.

“Alright then, write me poetry.”

“Neat or dirty?”, he winked.

“Dirty.”, she whispered playfully.

Turning over on his back, and looking up at her, he couldn’t help but admire the fire in her eyes. She was the kind of beauty that poems deserved. Cautiously, he caressed her cheeks, down to her lips.

“Someone worked really hard to design those.”

“That’s very bad rhyming.”, she giggled.

“Silence, woman. I haven’t even started.”, he murmured, pulling her gently so he could taste her lips.

“I wanted my lips wet first.”, he winked.

“Stop winking and start already!”, she said, blushing.

“Okay.. So, against the windows and the door.”, he started.
“Oh? I like where we’re going.”, she laughed.

“And while you beg for more and more.”
“I hardly think so, sailor!”, her laughter was genuine.

“I will do you till you’re sore.”, he said, emphasizing on the last word as he threw himself on her, while his phone lay beside them, silently discharging.

*******

The sun was relatively bright. The crowd was not heavily clothed. One of those promising days to many.

“Do you hate me for not taking you to a fancy cafe?”, he asked.
“No, but I hate you for asking me that question.”, she said, sipping her coffee.
“More sugar, please!”, she gestured to the barista.
“You’re a keeper.”, he muttered.
“Did you listen to ‘When love love arrives’, by Sarah Kay?”, she asked.
“Trying to say you no longer love me?”, he raised an eyebrow.
“Is that what you heard?”, she teased.
“Canada is really far away.”, he said, almost whispering.
“On the bright side, their Prime Minister looks like the prince from the movie, Tangled.”, she said laughing.
Ronald kept staring at his cup. He didn’t respond.
“Come on, babe. You know I don’t want to hurt you. I’m just letting you know that you can move on. I can’t bear to see you unhappy. If it’s meant to be, we’ll find a way.”, she said planting a kiss on his forehead.
“I’ll always love you, Sugar.”
He took her hands and kissed them. He loved her slender fingers. They were soft. And somehow her nails were always the same length.
“I’ll always love you more. And on a completely different subject, I love how you call me Sugar.”, he managed a heavy smile.

“Let’s take a picture then, Sugar!”, she snapped. Forcing a smile.

The day now seemed cold. The sun was bright but two hearts were dreary and torn.

“Of all the things I lost, I didn’t think you’d be one of them.”, he captioned that last picture with her.

*******

“Should I take the cup?”
Ronald dropped back to the present, awake from his trance.
He smiled at Robert.

“Certainly.”

“Who’s the lady in the picture?”, he asked. “And is that you with her?”

“Yes I know I’ve lost a ton of hair, on the other hand, I’m certain she’s only gotten prettier.”, Ronald said realizing he had a knot forming in his throat.

“Here’s the money, Robert.”

Still swiping through the pictures, he began his walk towards the exit. The cafe was beginning to get more and more dense, human-wise, and Ronald preferred to evade.

As he reached the exit and turned to bid Robert goodbye, his eyes decided to focus on the lady sitting right in front of him, as his pupils dilated, at the exact moment when she gestured to old Robert, and Ronald froze for a second time that evening.

“More Sugar, please!”

*******

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