7 For Seven Fiction Friday: "Coffee"
"The living room was big enough for duel sofas and two reading chairs."
On the first Friday of every month, “7 For Seven” publishes new short stories by Brady Gerber. This month’s story: “Coffee.” Read on your browser here. If you enjoy what you read, as always: Tip for coffee, ask questions, and share this dang thing.
by Brady Gerber
The living room was big enough for duel sofas and two reading chairs. Also, brown. The two chairs were taken by Henry and Jane. Sweet, elegant Jane – sitting pretty and still and reading a magazine – who was not looking at Henry. This did not worry Henry, her husband. She looked like a peach. His peach. This was his flirt, of course. He called her peach on their pretty good first date, many years ago. The name just came to him, he insisted. The first time, and every time after, it made her roll her eyes and not smile. Henry never allowed her to forget that. He was so charming, surely – and she was not someone who needed to always show her affection, he knew – and, yes, they were now older than they’d like to admit – but she was still peach. Her fingernails were long but not painted. Strains of her hair were turning silver. Just like her mother’s. She was now the oldest woman Henry had ever slept with.
Today’s the day, he said. What, she said. Coffee, he said. I’m not going to have that second cup today. I gotta quit. I gotta quit while I’m ahead. Ah, she said. Henry beamed. She had told him to do this before.
Outside, a summer breeze politely passed through the trees. There was a pond off in the distance, which could be seen through the kitchen window. Henry couldn’t see the pond from his chair, but he knew it was there. The pond had been there since he was a little boy. He even knew, without looking, the curved shape of the tiny ripples made by the winds that guided the waves from one end of the pond to the other. Henry, sitting, thought of all the things that he was going to do now that he wasn’t going to make that second cup. Maybe he’ll start a book. Maybe he’ll start that book that’s been sitting at his bedside for a few years, now lightly covered in dust, the one with the emerald hardcover. The cover was patternless. It was a gift from Jane’s father, reluctantly; it was a famous book with its title written on its spine yet not on its cover. It’s nonfiction, Jane’s father had said. Henry smiled. He thought about putting his hand on his chest to see if his heart rate had gone down after going through lunch without any caffeine. He felt good. He decided that it was not necessary.
Thirty years passed. Henry sat in his chair. It was quiet. Jane, gone for years, did not take her chair with her. Henry believed this to be a miscalculation. There was no wind. Though he believed that if he were a tree, he could still feel the wind in his hair. The silence, motionless and scentless, was heavy. It sat on both chairs. It was so heavy that Jane’s chair would not move. You know what, said Henry. Today’s the day. I think I’m finally going to do it. I think, he said, hands shaking. I’m not going to have that second cup today. Yes. I believe that today is the day.