The second time she made him coffee, he found out that her name was Lisa. She was really pretty, made even more so by her smile. A smile she flashed at him as soon as he walked into the tiny coffee shop. Normally he didn’t travel this far for coffee, but he liked her from the first moment he saw her. From the first moment he realized that she only had a week to live.
The smile he gave back was genuine, with a hint of flirt and attraction. Her eyes shone brighter as she took his order, obviously taking pleasure in seeing him. He almost forgot what he wanted, just studied her for a moment, hating the black cloud she carried around her that only he could feel. Only six days left now.
It was too late to get to know her, to make her special to him, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t give her a bit of his time. She didn’t look like she was dying of any sort of debilitating disease so he figured her death would be caused by something random and hopefully quick. He only sensed Death’s approach, but he was powerless to stop it. He learned that one the hard way.
She made small talk with him, still smiling as she frothed the milk. Not the automated impersonal conversation. He heard the interest in her voice. The want to say something more but holding back.She placed the coffee on the counter in front of him. Her eyes, a deep brown bright with life, lingered on his for a moment before fluttering away.
“Thanks…Lisa,” he told her, almost shyly. If there had been more time, he would have asked her out. But he learned long ago not to get involved when death was so near. It rushed what should not be rushed. And it only hurt him in the end. That did not mean that he wasn’t coming back. Tomorrow, he promised himself that he would return. Another coffee. Another moment with Lisa.
Day Seven. He was glad to see her there, standing behind the counter just as she had the previous six days. Carelessly, he wiped the rain running down his forehead as he hurried over. She smiled at him. “Good morning, Jared,” she sang out as she handed another customer their order.
“Want to try one of my famous peppermint mochas this morning?” Her tone was light and flirty and it hurt his heart. Still he was glad she was having a happy morning. He did not want to spoil it.
“Definitely.” He smiled. She paused for a moment, looking at him shyly. Her head bowed just a bit and her brown eyes peered at him from under her lashes. He opened his mouth to say something, but he closed it awkwardly. What was he going to say?
Her face faltered as she turned to make her famous peppermint mocha. He took in a deep breath and just said it.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispered. It wasn’t quite what he wanted to say but it was what came out. And it was honest.
Lisa blushed hard but she couldn’t help her smile. “Thank you,” she said. There was an uncomfortable silence that settled between them. He did not know how to fix it. Some time today she was going to die and here he was unable to say anything worthwhile.
“No, really,” he said. “You are beautiful, Lisa. I…I guess I just wanted to let you know that.”
She did not look at him but after she finished topping the coffee with whipped cream, she met his gaze. Leaning slightly over the counter, she hesitated.
“I…I usually don’t do this but…would you like to go out sometime?”
“Yes, I would,” he said. “Tomorrow night? Café down the street?”
“Sounds good to me. See you at seven?” She handed over the coffee.
“Seven it is,” he said and took a tentative sip of her famous drink. It was hot but delicious. “This is excellent.”
She beamed and did a coy little bow. “Have a nice day, Jared.”
For a moment, he almost could not speak. The words, the weight of it all, caught in his throat. “You too, Lisa.”
In the morning light a day later, Jared saw that the tiny coffee shop was dark and the “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign hung in the window.