“The kitchen is closed,” she said, wiping down a counter with a damp rag. She must have sensed my confusion, these were her regular hours. She shook her head. “I know. I just don’t have it in me to write anything tonight.” She wrung the rag out. “I can give you a cup of coffee if you want. Hell, I’d just pour it out anyway. No one coming in to get anything.”
Taking a mug from the shelf she pours it to the brim and slides it across the counter to me. “It’s on the house, day-old coffee, ” she says, laughing a little. Over at the window, she lowers the blinds, tilting them shut to keep out the world.
“I had a misunderstanding with my kid today. He’s off to college, things change. It’s hard to adjust sometimes.” She turns the sign on the door. “I just didn’t have it in me to write about, well, about anything.” Leaning against the opposite counter, she crosses her arms. “And I think I told you- well, maybe I forgot. A woman I know died on Saturday. Not a friend, really, an acquaintance. But I liked her. She was a pistol.” There’s a pause and she shakes her head a little. “Can you believe some of her friends didn’t want people to tell anyone that she’d died? They were afraid we’d gossip about her. How paranoid is that? Like you could even stop people from talking about death. Might as well catch try to catch wild horses in a teacup.”
Taking a broom, she begins to sweep. “Then tonight I get news from home, well, not home, but you know- the place I moved here from. Well, I lived there a long time. The boy was born there. They’re having wildfires again. Every summer it seems to get worse. I was always so afraid they’d come our way. One year they were just a mile off when the wind shifted. Anyway, this fire today was in a little community up the valley, where our son went to school. First they said that the cafe was gone, and the church. Horses dead, or a person, maybe a couple of firefighters lost. I called my mother to tell her about it, and I broke down and cried. Sometimes losing a place is like losing an old friend.”
She’s turning off things as she talks: the vent hood, the cash register, the coffee maker. “Then I heard that most of that wasn’t true. I was glad it wasn’t true, I am glad it isn’t true, but you just feel sort of jerked around. I guess I mean that literally. Not that people mean to, but first you’re so sad, and then you’re so relieved, but you’re still sad too, because it’s still terrible, even if it isn’t quite as terrible. Know what I mean?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “Now that damn fire has shifted and there’s a chance it could burn through the storage shed where I left all my books and old files, and letters and stuff. Just stuff.” She looks at me and smiles. “What kind of irony would that be? Get out of that Godforsaken place and still be at its mercy.”
The silence hangs between us for a moment.
“I’d offer you a refill, but I’ve already poured the rest out. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow. I’ll get something written.”
Target 73 Steps 1700
Breakfast: cup of watermelon, egg mc muffin Lunch: two hardboiled eggs, two cups of watermelon, yogurt with granola. Dinner: cup of risotto with mushrooms and two ounces chicken, half cup of cottage cheese.