Sally Peracttio wondered where the past year had gone. December had arrived with an icy blast and despite her best efforts, she’d found herself playing catch up. Sally hated the holidays, the over indulgence, the family squabbles and worst of all, the painful memories. At moments like this, her refuge as always was her work and her reliable espresso machine. It percolated with a warm familiarity in the corner of her tiny mid – town office. Eyes closed, Sally inhaled the heady aroma, gently sipped and smiled. She loved her espresso dark, smooth and full flavored and it was.
It had been a tough year in many ways but she was certain of one indisputable fact, she‘d survive it as she’d been here before. In early June she’d met J.D, Jeffrey Daniel Origo, a “working” musician from the lower east side, three years her junior but she was sure she saw in him, a surprisingly old soul. Initially she convinced herself he wasn’t her type. He wasn’t dark nor smooth but after a few false starts she couldn’t deny the energy between them. Pure chance, luck of the draw, call it what you will, it was real and it drew her in relentlessly. Sally started to wonder had she willed him into being or were the gods playing with her again. Sophia, her closest friend was always full of wonderful advice and Sally even listened to her this time as she pleaded with her to give J. D. a chance, to loosen up and start living a little again.
Pacing her third floor office Sally lit another Marlboro light and quenched it in that same instant as another wintry shower assaulted the window panes and swept the festive shoppers indoors. The seasonal lights outside swayed to and fro in a bitterly cold easterly painting watery reflections on the puddles and paving below. Three blissful months she’d been with J.D. and despite his absences when touring, they’d survived and made a go of it. Sally decided to take the initiative and booked a weekend for them in a wonderful B&B near Indian lake. J.D. googled the old place and seemed really pleased with it despite the cost. He messaged her that night to tell her that he’d check his schedule, but either way she’d have an answer next morning at 10:30am. It was now 10.33 am and still no sign of him and the smiley face at the end of his last message began to grate and irritate her. Seeds of doubt took hold but Sally shrugged them off. Shivering, she filled her Rancilio Silvia with the smoothest ground espresso, turned the heating up a notch and made herself comfortable as the sleet turned to snow.
Collapsing into her over-sized comfy chair she scrolled down his page sipping gently on her third espresso. Her rugged musician grinned foolishly back at her from his most recent profile photo. Sally glanced over at the digital clock again. 10.39 am. and he’d just posted Led Zeppelin’s ‘Tea for One’. What the hell was he playing at, why hadn’t he called? The digital display mocked her, its neon characters an unpalatable reminder of his absence. Her resolve snapped in a moment of weakness and paranoia. Where the hell are you J.D.? His promises reverberated like the thundering beats of a jackhammer inside her head. In the past he’d always been prompt, timely even or had she imagined it. No! J.D. kept his word but lately she’d felt an uneasy tension between them. His smile looked tired and every now and then she’d caught him wandering, drifting mid sentence. Sally blamed herself for selfishly wanting another hour, another day, another second but equally she recognized an old familiar pattern and it scared her.
She checked her message inbox again, nothing, zilch, not a word, not a syllable. It was 10.45 am as she gazed blankly down through her constipated news feed. A stream of advice posters from unhappypeeps.com appeared. It was as if they were automatically posting just for her in an assault on her already frayed nerves. She tapped her lighter nervously and sipped her espresso again. She’d wait another five minutes, browse his page and eventually he’d call, excuse in hand. She trusted J.D. because he was honest to a default in her estimation. “ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU’RE AFRAID TO DO ‘ landed in his news feed and Sally recognized it as she’d shared it herself not too long ago. Now the sight of it made her wretch. She clicked on her messages again, nothing. Her fingers tapped anxiously on the keys, ” 10.50 am where are you …You promised J.D, where the hell are you? I know you’re online. Look let’s forget this. I’m leaving, can’t do this anymore. PLEASE DON’T CALL ME OR CONTACT ME AGAIN…BYE. “
11.11 am, Sally surrendered and hit ENTER, yet the second her message was gone she regretted it. Her hands trembled and the delicate little cup she’d brought all the way back from Ithaca slipped between her long slender fingers. Helplessly frozen, all she could do was observe the steaming liquid mess that sprayed her keyboard and screen. Darkness flowed seeping into the crevices between the pristine keys. She held her breath knowingly as an unstoppable chain reaction unfolded. Liquid espresso was like kryptonite inside her laptop’s delicate workings. The glow of her desktop began to flicker as the chaos took over. Shock turned to horror and then resignation as a new message appeared. She tried to open it in vain but the screen tantalizingly flickered before terminally crashing. The familiar sound of the espresso machine percolating and that final inky blackness hit Sally like a silent scream.
Espresso in Time by Martin Hanley© 12-10-2013