I sit at the bar of the coffee shop, looking at
traffic on Main. Across the street, headless
mannequins model matching bra and panty sets.
A woman in a thick red scarf and purple hat waits to cross the
A man sits at the far end of the bar and takes out
his iPad. Two others claim a table
strewn with newspapers. They talk of markets
and clients, writing furiously on white tablets.
A car parallel parks. A woman emerges, wearing furry boots and a
peek-a-boo shirt and crisscrossed chopsticks stabbed into her bun.
A delivery man carries a vase of flowers.
Outside, two yellow balloons are snagged in a sweet
gum tree still strung with Christmas lights.
The door opens.
Kathy walks in. She wears a
purple coat and red pants and white New Balance tennis shoes.
She makes the rounds, greeting people she knows. She finds a seat and watches. She speaks to herself. “No one is listening to me. Why is everyone ignoring me?”
She asks, “What did you do to my head?”
“What did you do to my head?”
“I don’t think I did anything to your head.”
You didn’t do anything to my head.”
Outside, she sits on a bench and ties a brown scarf around her
head. Moments later, she rises and walks
Within ten minutes, she’s back, clutching a bag of
Doritos in her hand. She sits, eating
and watching. She makes her rounds. She leaves and sits on the bench.
Another fifteen minutes pass. Kathy returns. I listen to the reactions of the people. Mostly, they are kind.
I don’t wonder why Kathy returns so many times
during the day to the coffee shop on Main.
I can tell: The coffee shop is Kathy’s safe place.
I gather my things and head outside. I meet Kathy at the corner. “Good morning,” I say.
She enters the coffee shop.
This prompt was written in response to this week's Trifecta's Writing Challenge. The word was safe.