El amor huele a café
(Love Smells like Coffee)
by Nieves García Bautista
Available at Amazon
On a street of little importance, on an ordinary corner, there is a small place with large windows called Melissa’s Confidante*.
Melissa’s Confidante could be just another café. Somewhat special because of its foreign food and the aroma of freshly-roasted coffee, intense and dark. It is bitter, sweet and both perks you up and relaxes you at the same time.
This is a cozy spot with unpretentious furniture—perhaps insignificant for the dilettante, but steeped in the stories and secrets that have settled on it.
It owes its name to a walnut confidante, old and worn, yet extraordinary owing to the delicate and laborious carvings by teenage hands. In a corner, the confidante holds court, silent and lordly. Despite its mighty magnet that pulls in customers, no one dares to sit on its two opposite seats.
A disheveled gypsy woman paces outside the café. She will tell your fortune in exchange for your generosity. Some believe her, some do not. But they all feel intimidated by her intense eyes, glowing like two emerald coals.
“Your father’s heart shall change your life, dear.” That charlatan’s second-rate forecast had burrowed its way into her head, and she couldn’t get rid of it. That was the last thing the gypsy woman said, and she didn’t want to hear another word of it. She placed a coin in the palm of the woman’s hand and scurried into the café. But that ominous prediction had gotten a grip on her senses, and relentlessly thrashed her about, like the spoon that now traced figure eights through her macchiato foam.
“Adela, are you listening to me?”
Opposite her, her intimate friend Raquel shot her what Ana sensed to be a scrutinizing glance through those blacker-than-black, oversized Chanel sunglasses. Raquel had donned them with the excuse that the café’s big windows blindingly reflected the sun and hurt her eyes. The truth was, though, Adela knew that her friend since they were teenagers loved to flaunt it.
“Oh! Um…, yeah. Sorry. I was spacing out there for a moment. I mean, this afternoon you’ll see Iván, won’t you? Tell me about it.”
“No, you tell me. What were you thinking about?”
“Nothing. The gypsy lady at the door, made me obsess over what she said.”
“Come on. The obsessed girl is hyper-obsessed now!”
Raquel, in suspense, mouth opened wide, expecting her friend’s applause. But she was only able to snort briefly and somewhat indulgently as a reply.
“Now you’re a witty one.”
“Alright now,” answered Raquel, pawing the air. “Tell me what troubles my dear psychoanalyst. Tell me now, if only to smooth out that wrinkled brow, dear. Now that we’re thirty, our skin isn’t as supple as it used to be.”
“It’s about my dad.”
“Yeah…, it’s true. How would that woman know?”
“Come on. Don’t be naïve. Since she’s lurking around here every day, I guess she must have heard us talk about it at some time. Now that she has that information, she uses it in her favor, sneaks up on us and wham! She drops the bomb on me. Those professional fortune tellers all act the same: they just tell you stuff that you tell them yourself, and of course you already know it, but they approach you like the Oracle of Delphos, so you’re blown away. Give me a break!”
“So, what are you worried about?”
“It’s just that the whole business of the heart attack just came to mind. I…, my dad doesn’t seem like he’s enjoying himself. He says he is, that he’s happy at our place, taking care of the boy, but he’s not. He’s not happy.
“Poor Joaquín. I bet your dad must have had a rough time.”
“Rough hardly describes it… It’s been much worse for him.”
Adela sighed. Five months ago, her father’s heart had stopped; tired of so much pain, the burden, so much suffering. It wasn’t even a day after the love of his life had been cremated that he felt a steely blade cleave his chest. Despite the lacerating pain, he was able to manage a slight smile. ‘Cayetana, Hugo…’ he raved while he outstretched his hand.
* A type of sofa, originally characterized by a triangular seat at each end so that people could sit at either end of the sofa and be close to the persons(s) sitting in the middle. Wikipedia.