Route 7 Review - Page 107

Like all the rest, it was in black and white, but when he looked at it, it began to take on its color. This image was the one that he was most proud of. It was fortuitous that he had even got the shot; he could still remember the circumstances surrounding it. It was in the city, a year after he had finished college. He was sitting in a coffee house, downtown, working on a presentation that he was about to make. Across the street, he could see the massive high rise, where the corporation that he would one day own resided. Nervously, he read and re-read what he was going to say, occasionally looking at his watch to check how late his partner was, who had promised to show up an hour earlier. He remembered how a voice had interrupted him from his work. “Would you like a refill?” A young man in an apron stood across the table from him, holding a half-full pot of coffee. He shook his head. “No, thank you.” The man nodded and walked away; past him, he suddenly saw her. A young woman, sitting at a table across the way. She held a magazine in her hand, and was looking down at it. He had seen her here before; back in those days, he frequented this coffee shop quite often, as she did. They had never spoken, not really. Occasionally, they would pass each other and mutter, “Excuse me,” halfheartedly, but other than that, their only contact was the occasional smile across the room. Just as he was thinking that, she looked up, and of course she noticed him staring at her, and gave him the same nervous grin that he had seen many times before. He returned it, flushing, and looked back down at his computer screen. “Are you ever going to go over there?” With a shock, he looked up, and the waiter was back. Despite his earlier answer, he was filling up his coffee cup with fresh roast. “On the house,” the man assured him. He thanked him, but the man didn’t go away. “Seriously. Are you?” “Am I what?” With a huff, the waiter sat down in the chair opposite him. “Look, I’ve worked here for almost a year. You think I haven’t noticed you two? You think we all haven’t?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Whatever.” The waiter got up. “Your life. But think about it.” He walked away with a small smile on his face. Absently, he began to stare past the girl, out the front windows of the coffeehouse. He didn’t remember if he was actually considering what the waiter had said, or just resting his eyes from staring at a screen. It didn’t really matter to the story. Suddenly, the sun passed from behind a cloud, and the street outside was struck with brilliant light. Everything in the front of the coffee house was put in silhouette, and everything around was lit in fiery orange. It was beautiful. For some reason, he remembered the camera in his bag, and he pulled it out. He looked through the lense and snapped just one shot, the photo that he looked at now. About a minute later, the sun was covered again by another cloud. The orange glow was gone, and with it, the Girl. She must have walked out while he had been taking the picture. Soon after, his partner had come. The meeting had gone well, of course; it had been the catalyst that had propelled him to where he was now, the day before a cross-country move to become Executive Partner. His whole life could be owed to that moment. The good times and the bad. Closing down bars, stumbling home at three in the morning. The money, his success. His car. Relationships. It all came down to that day in the coffeehouse. And as he sat on his bare wooden floor gazing at the picture, he realized that he had lived a good life. Most men would kill for the luxuries that he had experienced. He had reached the top of the ladder, but there wasn’t much else there. The rarified air he lived in didn’t allow for others. A good life, but it wasn’t good enough. As crazy as he must have sounded, he was perfectly content with giving it up for something else, even a cloudy uncertain future. He gently ripped up the tape holding the picture to the photobook, and sat down on the old couch. Leaning back, he closed his eyes, unsure of how this worked. After all, he had never tried before. He thought back to the day, occasionally opening his eyes to the picture he held. Breathing slowly, he tried to get every detail of that little coffee shop fixed perfectly in his mind. It happened very quietly. There was no extreme sound of rushing air, of the space time continuum ripping apart like a cloth. He opened his eyes to look at the picture again, and was no longer in his