Fishing in Beirut

May 15, 2010

Part 8: Te Quiero (scene 18)

Filed under: Character : Aria, Part 8 : Te Quiero — fishinginbeirut @ 07:40

Aria pulled up the shutters and unlocked the door. The place had an unusual aura first thing in the morning, unsullied by customers and motion. She flicked on the power, and started warming bagels.
The mirror along the wall was sporting a smudge mark. She must have missed it the day before. The warm bagel smell hit her nose as she rinsed a cloth, and set about easing the smudge into a memory. She ran the cloth over the tables, straightening crooked napkin dispensers.
While the coffee machine shuddered into wakefulness, she wrote on the blackboard and placed it at the door. The guy across the street in the flower shop nodded hello. She heard the coffee percolating, and paused in the morning sun, half-inside, half-outside the café. Coffee while it’s forming is called percolating, but God only knows why.
She raised the blinds and the sun crept in. It stretched a quarter of the way across the first table, and she smiled when she thought it would slowly fill more of the room. Its gently increasing advancement would accompany her through the day.
Dust was visible in the air, catching in the rays and dancing about. She was going to swish it with the cloth, but left it act naturally. Already it was May, and she had been in Paris over a year. Whispers of trauma were almost inaudible in her soul.
She replenished the fillings running low or whose appearance was unsavoury. Red onion, olives. The cookie jar looked a little grimy, clouded, so she emptied the biscuits out and gave it a wash. The chewing gum and lollipops in the corner spied on proceedings.
The sun was now a little further. It was in possession of the first table, and had begun serenading the floor. Unfortunately the brightness was revealing more marks and spots. Aria checked her watch and there was still time before opening. Enough to restack the chairs and mop the floor. Bubbles fizzled in the bucket as the mop plunged, clinging to the tentacles and sploshing down on the tile. She chased them dry with a brush, and re-set the furniture.
She expected the owner in today but didn’t know at what time. Because of this it was awkward to invite Frank for lunch. It had happened before that he’d been halfway through a sandwich when she’d arrived, glaring suspiciously and clicking her tongue. Frank had had to pay, handing over fives, tens and twenties.
Karen was a customer who’d recently started visiting. A blind girl, American also, from Chicago, Illinois. Aria found her easy to talk to, wise and with plenty to say. It was impossible not to marvel at her strength despite a total lack of vision.
Aria never said this of course, but couldn’t help thinking it. To be so worldly and competent and yet unable to see. She suspected Karen knew she thought this, even from their minimal customer-waitress relationship. Karen’s movements were all so flowing and defined.
They had never spoken about the bombing or it’s aftermath. Karen had been in four times, twice post-explosion.
With the floor dry, the tables clean, the bagels warm and the fillings ready, Aria stood back and looked at the perfect café. In five minutes time it was officially open, but if someone came in now she wouldn’t make them wait. A breeze pushed through the door, and ruffled one of the specially printed napkins.

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