It’s Tuesday again! Tuesday is my favourite day of the week. It’s not Monday, so I feel more awake and prepared for what is to come and it’s not Wednesday, the mid-week slog-day. On Tuesdays, I get the day off from work and on Tuesdays, I meet my best friend Stephanie for coffee. We go to the same coffee shop and always meet different people; some are kind and some are rude; some give me funny looks and some give me a strange, sad smile. Apart from the Barista, Jayden, he’s always there and he always smiles when he sees me.
I always meet Stephanie on a public bench outside, and we enter together.
“After you. Find a seat and I’ll order” I tell Stephanie;
“Same as usual?” Asks Jayden.
“Yes, a regular black and a large latte please”. I see Jayden every week, he always makes an effort to serve me, even looking busy as to avoid serving those in the queue in front. What a lovely young man. I’ve been coming in every week for donkey’s years, many baristas have had a fleeting time here, but Jayden has been here for as long as I can remember. Despite seeing him so often, I know surprisingly little about him apart from his name and that he is local. I’m always so preoccupied with meeting Stephanie to talk about much more than the weather.
This Tuesday afternoon was particularly beautiful, the sun beamed down and the fluffy white clouds looked just like sheep in the sky. I couldn’t help but smile. We sat by the window, looking out at the people bustling up and down the high street.
Stephanie and I have been friends since childhood. Nothing can separate us and when we're together, I feel 20 years young! We would come to this coffee shop every week, to study or just for a catch-up. Today we chat the afternoon away; the time for studying is long since over. I drink my coffee while Stephanie’s latte art still looks like an immaculate leaf. I close my eyes and embrace the warmth of the sun, like a hug.
Some people must think I’m crazy, the way I laugh and the fun I have. People look at me like I’m insane, I’ve had people ask if I’m okay. Of course, I am, I’m with Stephanie. I’ve had friends tell me to move on, that I should stop going for my weekly coffee or that they will come with me. But I don’t want them to. This is my time with Stephanie. Sometimes different baristas have asked me to repeat my order as if it’s strange to order 2 coffees;
“Of course I want 2 coffees” I would reply, this is my time with Stephanie.
Her hair is still a shocking crimson, like the colour of blood; long, down to her hips. With her youthful skin and a beaming smile, she looks like she hasn’t aged a day. Meanwhile, my hair is greying at the roots and I can see the crow’s feet by my eyes as I catch my reflection in the window. I’m sure some people don’t see Stephanie with the same eyes as I. They can see her age, like a faded photograph, with slightly frayed edges and sun-bleached marks blurring her face.
Minutes turned to hours as we sat discussing matters of politics and health, about our favourite books, the twists and tales they bring, what has happened during our week and what we will do until we meet again. We can both agree that meeting for coffee is the highlight of both our weeks.
I spend my time as a scribe for students at the university. I tell Stephanie about all the students I have met, the classes I attend, all about the philosophy of photography; the different types of castles; animal’s adaptations to extreme environments and the minds behind computers. She listens patiently, never interrupting.
I want to connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or get her number. I want to talk to Stephanie during the week. I want to feel less alone; I want to share my exciting times with her when they happen rather than wait until the next Tuesday. But no matter how hard I try; I only find your old account, posts only as recent as 2016. I check our mutual friends' posts in hope to see your name mentioned. But nothing. There has been nothing from them about you since our days at university. You’re the only person I kept in touch with Stephanie. Thanks to our regular coffee dates of course.
It’s funny, you know, Stephanie can read my mind. She finishes my sentences. We love the same books; the same music and we both love cats. In jest we used to talk about sharing a house together, growing old and becoming the crazy cat ladies for our neighbourhood. Now I look back and think, in seriousness, how wonderful that would be. To share a flat with Stephanie, to live with my best friend and face the world together and maybe one day we would become the crazy cat ladies!
We begin to round off our conversation as we could both be sat there for days but Stephanie says she must hurry off as she has an appointment, and the café does have to close. I watch her walk out the coffee shop door and head up the Highstreet just out of sight. Suddenly, I hear the horrific screech of tyres, a scream, a crowd rushing, gathering around, I hurry out of the coffee shop alone, bewildered, praying my instincts to be wrong. As I get closer, I begin to feel sick. I see blood trickling down the cracks of the pavement. I push through the crowd; someone is on the phone to the emergency services. I see her lying there, limp and pale but no vehicle... Stephanie, the victim of a hit and run.
I come back to the present, Stephanie’s coffee remains untouched and her seat cold. I leave the coffee shop alone.