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Coffee and Kafka

I’ve always had a weakness for coffee, the absurd and beginnings—that sounds like an excuse, but it’s the truth. However, beginnings don’t really matter. They are important, but they’re not what counts. I remember our beginning—the day you walked into the meeting wearing a smoking jacket, a bright purple tie and telling Kafka cockroach jokes. I couldn’t look away. After hearing my laugh, you wouldn’t. I metamorphisised into a giggling teenage girl, then pulled myself together—Kafka couldn’t be funny forever. Some coffee would keep me grounded.

We ended up in the same lift to the coffee shop and then the same table. You regaled me with tales of Kopi Luwak beans while I shook my head and chuckled over the idea of cat poo coffee. The teenager was returning. Then I discovered we had too much in common: we were both married. I shook my head slower this time and aged. You said it was harmless to indulge our love of coffee and Kafka. In the lift you brushed against my arm and I knew this would be a trial.

I tried not to drown, downing cup after cup, unable to give up the coffee shop or my home life. The day you put down your cup and said, “Let’s . . . ” I stopped you by saying, “Don’t be absurd.” I saw the light in your eyes dim at the judgement.

I avoided the coffee shop after that. The withdrawal nearly killed me. After a year, I returned. You were there—wearing a top hat, a cat on your lap and a sprig of Coffea in your lapel. I saw your ringless left hand. It matched mine. “I’m committed to coffee drinking,” you said. I smiled and remembered the Kopi Luwak bean. It is the ending that matters.

Flash Fiction by Sherry Morris

Published in Summer 2017


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