The woman at the counter

I scoop up the last table.

The fancy lady on the cell,

holding a bottle in a brown paper bag in her left hand will have to wait.

It is the only one with a window view. The seat on the right side of this table faces a mirror set in the doorframe. During the day you can watch people come up the street from behind you. But it is night, and there is only the Bird Lady on the sidewalk. She paces back and forth. Her bent body follows her smooth and spotted head, it is hidden under bonnet crocheted in pink, as if tethered.

Lead, slack, and pull.

"Hey, you got a dollar?"

Lead, slack, and pull. Lead, slack, and pull.

There is warm white bean stew in a tall bowl.

A sailor's knot of green olive oil drawn in a fine line floats on the surface.

There is half a warm baguette with butter.

The fancy woman flirts with the one of the brother's that own this place, and gets him to open her wine bottle for her.

Dee eats her falafel. We argue about carnations, and whether the flower has a scent.

She tells me about the stress at the Collective.

She makes a list of woman she thinks I should date.

She makes me swear that I will go to the anti-valentines day party.

At the moment,

I think I would eat my own big toes off,

rather than partake in either of those last two events.

I promise her.

The fancy lady sits by herself. The cell sits curled and shiny, to the left of her dinner plate. There is couscous covered with lamb stew. She eats quickly, with strong strokes, but only works through half her dinner. When the wine bottle is at half, and her tongue colored bruised, she calls for the woman at the counter to bring her something to take her food home in.

She stands and scrapes. The bottle corked and put back into the paper bag.

Coat on.

Out the door.

When the fancy woman has left, I can lean back in my seat, and relax.

I want the green tea I ordered. So, I go back up to the register. I don't mind, a smile a little, because this means I can talk to the woman behind the counter, and listen her voice a little more.

I want to take a walk with her, at night or during the day.

It doesn't really matter.

And she will tell me what kind of tomatoes her grandfather grew in July.