The room is filled with coffee lovers, or just lovers in general, or maybe lonely souls longing for connection, just like me. Everyone is gathered in pairs, two bodies, or one body and one device, acting surrogate for a real body’s warmth and engagement.
He can’t stop smiling, sending his text messages to a secret love, or maybe a distant partner he wishes were across the bar from him. I want some of what he’s got.
Ray LaMontagne drifts out of strategically-placed speakers, singing “I will hold you in my arms”. I think of Hawaii, the days I spent staring at the hexagonal skylight from the softest bed in the bungalow, earbuds pressing the same lyrics into my brain, setting off dreams of the honeymoon we’d take there, how you’d take my hand and sing to me quietly as we swayed into sleep.
I’m in love with a fantasy, I know. It sustains me in a way reality never could.
She’s reading a magazine or a newspaper, re-dipping her teabag into a lukewarm cup, pushing a wild thatch of hair away from her forehead and tucking it behind one ear. Now and then I spy her glancing over the top of the page, reaching out through the bubble around her, quickly casting her eyes back down. She's afraid to hit her target. Afraid to miss it entirely. Afraid, afraid.
They’re clearly in love. He surrounds her with his right arm and leans in for a kiss, marking her on his way up to the coffee counter. Mine, he says. All mine. She seems to enjoy the safety of being owned in a way I know I never could. All I know is holding. I have no idea how to be held.
I turn back to my laptop screen. Everyone is gathered in pairs.