The warmth of the sun through the glass window of the café brushed the skin of my arms with playful butterfly kisses.
Sweet tingles brought on by its comforting warmth accompanied by the strong, dark fresh coffee clutched playfully between my hands filled me with a feeling I hadn’t felt in far too long.
In the low clinking and murmurs of the café, I looked out at the busy streets silenced by a sheet of glass.
A girl of the city, my mind knew the sounds of these streets all too well, and as I watched on I could easily fill the quiet with the sounds from outside, pulling the soundtrack from my memory.
I closed my eyes for a moment, listening to the symphony of the streets in my mind.
A creased brow and a sudden frown of uneasiness wiggles in, quickly pushing away my feelings of contentment.
I open my eyes.
Across the small café table made only for two, she stared at me.
Her eyes were open far too wide, unblinking with a chilling smile that showed every last one of her teeth.
Her hands clutched at a mug that rested on the table, the mug chipped with the decorative cheerful paint fading.
I looked around at the people there, wondering if they could see her too.
No one seemed to notice.
Not a single person seemed to see this woman in all her malevolence.
Her eyes, familiar, bore into me in a way that scared away the butterfly kisses of the sun, replacing them with harsh chills that shot up my spine and made my scalp tingle as each and every hair on my head tried to escape the french braid and stand on end.
I swallowed hard, the soothing sounds of the café became anxious, as I found myself wishing for something to cut through the silence.
She just kept staring at me with eyes unblinking.
I found myself wishing she would stop, but knew to wish something so impossible would be such a frivolous waste of a wish. For her eyelids were gone, she could not blink even if she wanted it as desperately as I did.
Just as her macabre smile couldn’t be stifled. There were no lips to cover her grin, the one that forcefully exposed her every tooth, the bright pink hue of her gums.
Something seemed to creep inside me, fear softened by curiosity.
The image of this lurid woman as she slowly lifted her aging mug to her mouth, the liquid rushing in for a single moment before water-falling between her teeth with no lips to keep the liquid in.
It wasn’t the same rich dark coffee in this ghastly woman’s cup, for it spilled out like sewage, chunky and in a sickening colour.
I tried to keep the look of disgust from my face as I looked at her.
Who was she? Where did she come from? Why did the cozy room of the café seem to continue on in her presence, as though they couldn’t see her, as she was forced to see them?
The skin on her hands was discoloured, almost appearing gray as though she had waltz in the arms of time for far too long. She lifted one, so quickly I jumped, some of the coffee in my mug jumping free to trickle on the table between us.
I watched, not knowing what else I could do as she rested her hand on her chest, just below her locket.
My mouth gaped open, I could not find the words, sort through the emotions, all I could do was watch her.
She was… The thought was so close, yet so far as I watched her. There was so little about her that could be considered familiar but those wide eyes, the ones that saw everything while nothing saw her, the ones that seemed forever glassy, unable to blink away the world around her.
What a peculiar shade of brown they were, the same brown, she thought, she saw when she looked in the mirror.
This was me.
The thought froze me, caused sharp chills to shoot down my spine and I looked over the decaying woman sitting across me at the small cafe table.
What did this mean? I wondered. Slack jawed I looked at a woman so familiar yet so unrecognizable.
It was such a disturbing sight, the only thing recognizable about the woman who sat before her now was the eyes that looked startled without the curtains of eyelids and the locket around her neck, the same one that I wore around my own right now.
My hand came up to press against the identical locket.
I had so many questions. By the looks of the woman across me, my death would be unnatural, one forced on me as I fought tooth and nail.
Yet, she still looked young, despite being in a later state of decay. How young? The thought filled my belly with nervous butterflies and made my heart leap into my throat. I was still in the planning stages of my life. I was still climbing the corporate ladder hoping to get to the position that would give me all I wanted in my career life, I had barely unpacked all the boxes in the home I had just bought, and I had loved so little.
How much time did I have left? Was there enough time for me to fall in love, to have children?
I opened her mouth, leaning forward on the table with all these questions ready to fly from her mouth at the dead version of myself.
Before I could ask her anything, she leaned forward, mirroring me perfectly. A soft voice so familiar it covered me from head to toe in goosebumps came from her exposed teeth as her eyes looked into my own. “Time digs a grave for us all, whether it’s dug in over a hundred years or in ten, the grave always looks the same.”
The words struck me like a slap in the face. Leaning back, I wrapped my hands around the width of the mug and stared at her, her words dancing around in my head as I struggled to process them. Slowly, I looked away from her and out the window.
Those words shouldn’t have soothed me, they shouldn’t have stifled my questions. The words were sharp and should have left me shocked, contemplating my upcoming fate.
Yet the wisdom in them answered all the questions I may have had.
Those words were ones spoken by someone who had loved, possibly lost, who had learned, who had grown and who definitely had lived.
Our eyes met, the same eyes gazing thoughtfully into themselves and we exhaled deeply before picking up out cups and sipping our bold coffee in our cups as we sat at our small table in the little cafe.
At the little table for two.