Caramel by Josh Weeks

Fiction

Starbucks.
London.
A duffle bag by her side.

I’d tell you what she looked like, but it’s difficult to describe. She had eyes for seeing; a mouth for talking; ears custom made for the wireless, white headphones that hid them from view, like two doves protecting their eggs.

It was the sadness that got me – something warm seen through frosted glass. A fire with its contours blurred.

Outside, the city was black.

*

I was drinking coffee: a drop of milk, no sugar. Hers was something caramel– coloured, which she was holding in both hands, and sipping through a straw.

Runaway; sleepover; environmentalist; just-finished-the-gym.

Wherever the sadness was coming from it wasn’t in her eyes. It was the trace of a trace that began somewhere around her mouth, before extending – by way her of neck – to the narrow shoulders she was dabbing clean with a serviette.

As she looked up,
I looked down.

The papers in front of me bore illegible traces, too. The words had begun swimming in the white space surrounding them.

*

The place was closing. We were both asked to leave.

I downed my coffee and packed away my things, whilst she just swung the duffle bag over her shoulder, and took the remains of her drink with her.

Homeless; accessory; on a pilgrimage; lost her job.

I thought she’d be gone already, but she was outside waiting for a lighter.

‘I’m sorry’, I said, ‘but I gave up six months ago.’

She smiled and thanked me anyway, which I didn’t understand, then turned and crossed the road; her headphones back where they belonged.

At first I didn’t see the building, but then, I did.

The doorway was lit
the colour of cherry blossom,
and I craved the taste of caramel more than a thousand lonely cigarettes.

 

Biography
Josh is a twenty four year old writer from Caldicot, South Wales, who is currently working as an English teacher in Spain. He was recently long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award for his piece, Fugue, which will be published in the forthcoming 2017 anthology.

Image: pixabay.com