Ethan Kilgore has resided all his life in New England, and has devoted the past six years to honing his fiction
writing skills. His work often explores the idea of figurative paralysis, and is greatly influenced by authors
such as James Joyce and J. D. Salinger.
It seems almost every love story begins with something like,
“Hi, I’m sorry, is someone sitting here?”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to bump into you.” Which is funny if you think about it, because the relationship is built on an apology. It’s like a glimpse into the road ahead, which will no doubt be paved with many such pleas for forgiveness or expressions of regret. Anyway, that’s usually how most happily-ever-afters start.
I spilled coffee on a girl the other day by accident. She jumped up from her seat then screamed at me for a little while. I apologized. She talked to the manager, and stormed out of the diner. I almost got fired, but Fred likes me so he just gave me a warning.
I got off at five, but I decided to wait for Margaret because it was her birthday that day, and I wanted to wish her well. She never came, so I just left. It turns out she had quit the day before and ran off with her husband to Spain or something.
I hailed a taxi, and shifted my hands around in my pockets searching for money which there was none of, so I told him that and he drove off. The walk wasn’t terrible though. It did me good to get some exercise. It had been a month since I’d last gone to the gym; it’s just too expensive.
I came home, turned the heat back up to sixty-eight, and watched the news. I turned it off after five minutes because it was starting to depress me. The cupboards were practically bare again, so I decided that’s how I would use that week’s paycheck.
I needed to sleep.
The girl I spilled coffee on came back the next day. I was in the back, but Jake told me there was a girl waiting at the counter for me. He also said she was hot. I walked out and felt embarrassed when I saw who it was.
“I’m sorry,” I said, again.
“Hi. Can I talk to you a second?”
“I actually came to apologize myself, believe it or not. I was having a terrible day, and I just needed to take my anger out on somebody. The whole ‘right place, right time’ kind of thing, you know?”
“It really was my fault, though. I mean—thank you. You shouldn’t feel bad is what I am trying to say.”
“I was hoping maybe I could make it up to you by buying you a cup of coffee or something.”
My stomach growled awkwardly, but I started to say no. Then she reached back, putting her brown hair into a ponytail.
“That would be great. I’ll take my break.”
“Good. Again, I really am sorry. I acted terrible.”
I poured us both a coffee.
“It’s fine. I’ve heard worse.
“I had just the worst day. I found out my ex-boyfriend was engaged, which sucked. Then I got into work, only to find that I had been laid off. Can you believe that?” She laughed, and looked out the window. It wasn’t the kind of story you laugh at, but the way she acted made it seem like it was okay, so I laughed too.
I watched the steam rise from my coffee.
“So, where do you work? Did. Where did you work, I’m sorry. Bad mistake.”
She laughed again. “Customer service at a department store.”
“Not a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.”
She took a sip of her coffee. I took one as well.
“I’ve always wanted to travel, so I may do some of that now that I have nothing better to do. Who knows, this could be a blessing in disguise. I guess with no source of income for the foreseeable future that would be irresponsible, though. I’m sorry; you don’t care about my life.”
I sipped my coffee slowly, hoping she would stay ‘til I was finished.
“I do too.”
She tilted her head.
“Travel, that is.”
“Where does everyone want to go? Rome, Paris—those kind of places.”
I smiled. She smiled.
“Well I better get going.” I wasn’t done with my coffee. “But I’m glad you let me buy you the coffee. And again, I am really sorry I acted so horrible.”
“That’s fine. Really.”
“Okay, well, bye.”
The door jingled as she walked out.
It’s funny, because I expected her to walk through the door every time it jingled for the next week, but she never did. She probably moved on, and flew to Mongolia or something. I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia.
We had a new girl working at the diner today. I don’t usually like it when they hire someone new, because I have to show them the ropes. I’ve been working there the longest, so I know how everything works. She told me that I was going too fast, and that she didn’t understand how the coffee pots worked.