The sky outside looked awfully bleak as Tara struggled to put her sweater on. Her right sleeve folded up for the fourth time as she tried to slip her arm inside. The sweater popped static in reproach as Tara pulled her arm out again. Groaning, she walked over to the desk to pick up her purse and prepared to leave with one arm in the sweater. Giving up didn’t seem so bad at the moment. She felt like an old woman, with weak arms and frail bones.
Her mind went to her mother. Life, when counted in years, seems so long, she thought, But when you measure life with every happy moment, it seems to go by so quickly. Two days ago, death became real to Tara. The woman who raised her to be the functioning woman she was had died. As an adult, Tara didn’t expect to cry nonstop when she found out. She hadn’t stopped crying but now, the tears she wanted to cry wouldn’t even come to her eyes. What is life going to be like without the phone calls? I wish I had a chance to apologize for all of my thoughts. Tara laughed tiredly at herself. She felt like a character from a bad movie. Her brain was going a million miles an hour as her mind cycled through good times and regrets.
“Good bye, sweater,” she said out loud as she pulled the sweater off and dropped it on the floor as she stepped out the door. A chill went through her body as she felt the moist, pre-storm air on her skin. She paused for a moment, contemplating whether or not to go back inside and get another jacket. My own mother’s funeral. I can’t be late to my own mother’s funeral, Tara thought as she shuffled out to her car.
“She understood me better than anyone ever has or ever will. She was my best friend, and even when I didn’t think I needed her, she was always there. Time…” Tara drifted off, thinking, “Time. It goes so fast. I love my mother and I miss her more and more each day.” She stepped down from the podium and walked over to the hole in the ground where her mother would rest forever. She couldn’t shed a tear, but she felt like her insides were falling apart.
“I don’t know what to say that I haven’t already said a hundred times, mom. I love you and I’m going to try so hard to make you proud of me,” Tara mumbled down to the casket. She felt silly talking to the shell of her mother in that box.
It started to rain as Tara walked back to her cold, metal chair. The funeral proceeded hurriedly as the rain began to pour steadily.
She put her car into park outside the coffee shop. Tara dazed off, looking out the windshield of her car into the downpour. I feel so empty and cliché, she thought. Morgan’s… I’ve had some moments at this place. This is part of my life, and here’s another section to write down in the “important days that ended with a cup of coffee at Morgan’s” list.
Tara almost fell on the slippery pavement as she got out of the car. Opening the door of Morgan’s, the familiar, homey smell warmed her face up immediately. All the people enjoying their coffee looked up at door and saw a woman dressed all in black with no jacket. Not a big deal to them, all the misfits came here anyway.
“Good evening, Mr. Lester,” Tara said as she leaned over the counter.
“Well, hello Tara!” Mr. Lester said in his cheery, old man voice, “I didn’t expect to see you here today. Since it’s your… I’m so sorry about your loss, little one,” Mr. Lester gave a grandfatherly, tired smile to her.
“Thanks, sir,” Tara said hurriedly, “Can I just have the usual?”
“Of course, I’ll have it for you in a moment, little one.” The wrinkles on his forehead eased as he smiled at her.
Louis Lester had owned Morgan’s since before Tara was born. The coffee shop seemed to have been in the city forever. New people entered and left the city daily, and people were born and died all in the same city every single day. Morgan’s was a rock in the storm for Tara. In her mind, it had always been there and always would be.
“Here you go, Tara,” Mr. Lester handed her the cup of coffee in her favorite orange mug.
Tara reached for her wallet to pull out some cash.
“No you don’t, little one. Free for you today,” Mr. Lester smiled at Tara as she set her purse on the floor next to her.
She put the mug to her lips. The coffee burned her tongue and she flinched. She swallowed the molten liquid and looked down into her mug. Tara began to cry. She didn’t know why she was able to cry now, at not at the funeral. Tara cried harder and people started looking at her. The harder she tried to stop crying, the bigger her sobs became. Finally, when the sobbing reached its climax, Tara stood up and ran out the door. She felt like a moody teenage girl.
The bench outside Morgan’s was also a familiar place to Tara. Where else would she have gone the night of her senior prom when her date had stood her up at dinner? The rain was really coming down now and the northwestern air was cold. The water on her face felt like little pieces of ice. The tears ran down her face just like the rain ran down the windows of Morgan’s. She wiped her eyes and her makeup covered her fingers.
“Your purse, ma’am?” a man’s voice said.
Tara jumped and looked up to see the shape of a person extending his arm toward her. “Oh. My purse. Thanks,” Tara choked back another sob and sniffled.
“You’re welcome,” the man said, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Tara responded. She thought for a moment, “Actually, I’m not okay. Today has been a really hard day. I’ll be fine, though. Thanks for asking. Oh, and thanks for bringing me my purse.”
“No problem,” the man said as he sat down. “My name is Casey, it’s very nice to meet you.”