I was glad the meeting was over early, I needed time to unwind before meeting with my lawyer. I had never been in this section of town and looked up and down the street hoping to find a place to get a bite to eat. A sign across the street caught my eyes. “Books Cafe” had a picture of a steaming mug painted on the window and the words “fair trade coffee served here”. The street wasn’t busy so I dashed between cars to the other side. As I entered, the smell of baked goods greeted me like an old friend and I realized I was hungry. The room was long and narrow. Near the entrance there were a number of tables and chairs and a counter. The baked goods displayed in the glass case appeared to be homemade and I settled on a blueberry muffin and a coffee. I chose to sit further from the door and found the middle area of the store more to my liking. A couch and a couple of wing-back chairs were arranged in front of a gas fireplace. I sat on the couch and sank back into the pillows. I closed my eyes for a moment and breathed deeply, letting the stress fall away. Reaching for the mug of coffee, I noticed the bright orange mug. I smiled. Orange speaks to me of freedom, a story for another day.
As I nibbled on the delicious sweetness of the muffin and sipped on coffee from the orange mug, I glanced around. Bookshelves lined the walls and center aisle of the back section. Mysteries and romance, nature and travel, signs pointed patrons to the shelves of dusty books. I have always loved rummaging around in second hand book stores, with their treasures of the past and I checked the time, hoping I would be able to spend a few minutes having a look. In the front half of the store, the shelves held all manner of bric-a-brac. An array of teapots and mugs, some ornate vases, a few figurines and candle sticks covered every inch of available space.
My gaze wandered around the room and fell for a moment upon a lady at a table nearby. At first glance I took her for younger than her years, perhaps it was the short black skirt and tight sweater that gave that impression. Her obviously dyed blonde hair hung in an unruly mass of stringy curls over her thin shoulders. Her thumbs tapped furiously on her iPhone Her gaze was tense, her eyebrows furrowed together in concentration. As she typed, the metal coins hanging from her bracelets brushed against the table making a soft tinkling sound. She wore too much makeup for this time of day, her eyes lined in bright blue and her cheeks rosy pink in an effort to brighten her almost white skin. I was curious. She had no food, no drink in front of her and she kept glancing at the door. I concluded she was waiting for someone and I decided it must be her lover. Perhaps he was married and this was a clandestine meeting. I was sure they were about to plan a getaway.
Bored with my fantasy, I noticed the pair of wing-back chairs on either side of the fireplace. The dark wood of the legs and arms had the patina that comes naturally to wood after many years of wear. The upholstery looked new, the cream brocade giving the pieces a clean elegance, quite out of place in this dusty bookstore. I wondered about the original owners. I imagined the chairs sitting in the parlour of a rich businessman who decorated his rooms with the finest pieces simply to impress his guests rather than for any practical purpose.
My imaginings took a turn as a young man, perhaps a university student, introduced himself to the lady dressed in the too short skirt and the stringy hair. She shook his hand rather formally and the pair exited through a side door I hadn’t noticed before. Being a curious person, this mystery had to be solved. I finished my coffee and muffin and slipped closer to the door for a clue. There, on a little round table, I found my answer. A small sign read “Tarot Card reading” and some business cards, with a picture of my lady in black. I giggled that my thoughts were so far off and walked out into the sunshine.