Coffee and Crakers – A Short Story

“We are out of time and out of rice.”

“It’s no problem. I’ll just run out to the store.”

“No. No. It is a missed opportunity. The kids will be awake soon. And anyway my apron needs a washing.”

“You have at least a dozen aprons. Are they all in the laundry?”

“You are hopeless. We will never understand one another.”

“That’s true. We are too alike, perhaps. I didn’t really want to go to the store anyway.”

“Well at least the coffee is done brewing. We have that still don’t we? Would you like a cup? I have some fresh cream. And cherries.”

“Cherries just are not the same to me anymore. But I will take some coffee. Black please.”

He goes to the cupboard that smells of nutmeg. There is sugar and a loaf of bread, but he takes some crackers. They are dry and salty. She is thinking to herself, and it shows in the wrinkles by her eyes. Suddenly there is a knock on the door.

“Don’t answer it. I don’t think I can handle the news.”

“But what if it is only the postman trying to deliver a package?”

“Then he can leave a note.”

“But that is rather silly, isn’t it? I am sure he knows we are home.”

“It’s not the postman, and you know it.”

“I don’t care. I just want to drink my coffee and eat my crackers.”

“They will make you fat, you know.”

“Which one?”

“The hell with you. And that damn knocking. Fuck it. I am going to answer it. I cannot go back to sleep with all the coffee and excitement.”

“It is good to confront your fears. They help you to grow.”

“Fear keeps us safe, and makes us cowards. You more so than others. If you owned any type of bravery you would be the one answering the door.”

“But no longer be a coward. It would ruin your opinion of me, and then what would I be?”

“I don’t know. Something. Which is at least better than what you are now.”

“I see.”

“Do you?”

She answers the door and it is James. He shuffles his feet and will not meet her eyes, stumbling about with his words like a madman, trying to find the most delicate way to speak with her. It was his fault, he says, or she translates from the confusing jumble.

“James, please.”

“But…my wife…kids, they are everything to me. Please, you must know. How do I put it? I have been a wreck. I can’t sleep with her anymore. I am on the couch. There is a TV nearby so I watch commercials at two in the morning. I feel like I am drowning.,,”

“James, seriously. You sound drunk. Are you? No, don’t answer. I don’t really care. But you are embarrassing yourself. This is all too much, and is an awful bore. I have nothing to say to you. Go find yourself a gentle patch of grass and watch the trees grow for a while. That might give you some perspective.”

“Is Daniel home? Can I talk to him?”

“Oh yes, he is, but he will not want to speak with you. He is busy, you see, with crackers and coffee.”

“Well, will you tell him I am sorry?”

“No. Oh, I mean I am sure he heard the whole thing and is very indifferent to the affair. He means to paint, and is entirely wrapped up in that endeavor. This leaves him no time for the citizens of this world, like us, dangling by our knitting and our frailties. Now please, go away. I cannot take too much more of this. Come back to me, when your mind is right.”

“But..I…Oh, Helen, please. I…”

“Goodbye James.”

She closes the door and walks back to the dining room. Daniel has finished his crackers and is sipping his coffee softly watching the light on the grass, admiring the shades of yellow.

“I am not painting. Or even thinking of doing so. Why say such a thing?”

“James is threatened by you. He feels you are superior to him so I play to this indulgence of his.”

“An interesting tactic. What do you hope to gain from him?”

“Compassion. And he bears it. The poor fool. He feeds me his compassion and I drain him of it so soon he will be nothing but a cocoon with a rotting caterpillar inside. Oh, don’t look at me that way. What you have done is worse by far.”

“And what is that?”

“Destroyed me. I watch the kids sometimes. I love them. But I watch them as if I were outside myself, with my eyes vacant and my heart empty. No feeling. And it is because I am no longer here. And the pity is they don’t know it. They hug me and cannot feel the cold corpse that I am. It is funny. I thought about suicide, you know. Seriously considered it. But I knew that it would mean nothing. That here, now, I am dead. A void of life that can only look to others to destroy in turn.”

“And you blame me for this?”

“For everything.”

“Then why stay?”

“Because you do. You stay and it gives me the opportunity to kill you.”

“Love. Blind and fruitless.”

“And why do you stay?”

“I suppose it is due to the fact there is nothing else out there. Where would I go? It would all be the same and pointless.”

“There is Jenny. I better start breakfast for her.”


4 thoughts on “Coffee and Crakers – A Short Story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s