Short Story-Cigarettes in Coppelia

Story 1

Che gelida manina from La Bohème blared out of the little record players speakers, filling my little apartment as I sat there regarding the weather, cold and rainy, the fog heaver than it had been in a while. The street outside my widow was empty of people, but the taxis and cars were a many, honking and screaming at each other in a tangled brawl. My head still ached from the night before and the opera was not helping. I had gone to dinner with the older woman who walked to Coppelia restaurant once a week to have a coffee and a cigarette, occasionally two cigarettes. I knew that she did this because I asked her. I met her there the first time I went. I had sat next to her when we had first met and I asked her if I could buy her a drink sometime in my young, nonchalant manor. She had stared at me for over ten seconds before asking me to dinner. Of course I had accepted and we went to a simple French restaurant in Manhattan, I drank three glasses of Cabernet as she asked me question after question. She later invited me to her place for a night cap. Before we headed there we shared a cigarette.

She lived on the upper east side of New York City where it was quieter, her loft was lightly lit and was large. Her wealth dripped over every beautiful art piece and hand crafted chair. She walked to her kitchen which seemed to be rarely put to use and opened the top cabinet, which was simply a glass sheet, and pulled down a half empty bottle of whisky. She handed me my glass and stroked my arm with her soft hands. I ran my eyes over her body, her large breasts, curvy hips that lead to thick thighs. She was beautiful with dark brown hair, smile lines around large, pouty lips, and crows feet coming off her large, dark eyes. Her eyes, they had the longest thick lashes and were deep and daring. She was in her fifties and had a mature, calming nature about her. She had a soft Spanish accent and she often smelled of spicy chocolate and cigarettes. While she was tall and slender, she also had a womanly body. In bed she was soft and strong. I went home soon after and my head began to ache.

I light a cigarette and rest outside my open window, letting my head get damp from the sleet. It was barely one in the afternoon on a Saturday and I felt as though I needed a drink. I took a long slow drag of the cigarette, the cold rain felt good, crisp and bright, the little drops hit the burning end of the cigarette making it sizzle. It was dark outside because of the clouds and fog, lights were on and glowing warm in the blue. My skin was pail and creamy in the lighting. I hugged my naked body and listened to the booming voice singing in my tiny apartment room.

_______

I woke to the sound of a car alarm going off outside my window and the cold blue light of the early morning streaming in. My phone clock read 5:15 AM. My eyes felt heavy but I couldn’t fall back asleep to the harsh alarm that wasn’t stopping. I sat up slowly and stretched my little legs out of the soft white sheets and pointed my toes towards the wall. My back cracked and creaked as I bent it backwards. I stood up and the cool wooden floor felt refreshing to my warm feet. The coffee maker still had yesterdays leftovers staining the glass bottom and the grounds soaking in the filter. After scrubbing out the bottom and filling the filter with fresh grounds, it slowly gurgled to life, a warm scent rushing to every corner of the cold room. My phone woke up as a text message glowed lightly on the blue screen.

The message read, “I understand it may be early, but before I left for the day I wanted to invite you to dinner at Four Seasons tonight.”

I responded with a simple, “Yes, I’d love to.”

The coffee maker beeps four times, letting me know it is ready to be drained. I poor it into a large white mug and let it burn my tongue as I impatiently begin to sip it. My mind wanders and I begin to wonder what she did in a day, if she ever had (or has) a husband or if she always had enjoyed women. She had touched me as though she was still hungry, so maybe she was married to a man. I don’t mind sharing, but today, in the blue light of the cool morning, I don’t want to share her. She is to beautiful and too self assured to share. I hold my warm mug in-between my breasts and stare at the wall while I imagine her life and her dreams. I wondered if she had dreamt about me the same as I had about her.

When your eyes are open but it is pitch black, you still feel as though you are seeing things. When your eyes are closed and it is pitch black, you feel calmer, almost hopeless or carless. Nothing matters at that point. Thats how I feel with life. All of life. My eyes are closed and it is pitch black and nothing matters.

________

I wore a simple black dress. The sleeves had tool lightly shading my arms and my breasts. I wore black heals. It was raining again and it smelled fresh, the streets seemed cleaner. I took a cab too the restaurant and was surprised that she wasn’t there. I was late, or so I had thought. I sat sown at the little table draped in white, a candle at the center of the table seemed to be the only source of light at each table. When I looked up it looked like stars, there were little tiny lights spread over the ceiling. I ordered a bottle of Merlot and sipped slowly. I checked my phone to see if she had perhaps texted, but there were no notifications. It was half an hour later than we had said. I was almost finishing my second glass of red vino. I had already called twice and sent a message, there was nothing else to do.

An hour had gone by since I had last called and left a message. I was leaving, I wasn’t going to wait, I had always been the one who waited on other people and I was done. I paid for the wine, it was fifty dollars. Fifty dollars of wine and I couldn’t pay my rent. I walked outside, the cold harsher than it had been in a while. It was damp and I was tired. I walked home, a cigarette in my wine stained mouth. When I got home I crawled into bed without changing.

I got a text at two in the morning, a group text sent to twenty or so other people. It read that she had just died in a car accident. Nothing more. I didn’t read the text until the next morning and after reading it I didn’t know what to feel. I got up and made my coffee. Had a cigarette outside my little window, the sky blue and the clouds heavy. I took a shower, got ready and left for work.

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