Some street lamps illuminate the growing dark. They shine on the young, the lost, and the rumbling night. They do not make the rain, but they reflect on the drizzled puddles below. People use them without a thought and huddle underneath them.
Those very street lamps are quite different in the morning. They squeeze there way through the long night and out of the thick, braided layers of fog. Coffee fuels the lights and cheers them on until the sun comes up.
Not that they need it.
Violet McFerrel sat steeped in exactly this kind of morning lamp light. As she had done for some years. Her table was positioned so that she may watch the street, drink her coffee, and dwell on the mist left-over from the chaotic night past.
“Anything else this morning, Ms. McFerrel?”
“Just this, thanks,” she said, and her hands hugged her mug in assurance.
The boy walked away and kept working at the various chores required to set up the café. The clunks and steaming noises inside felt like a pulse. The boy was becoming a good employee, but he was new to the job. Violet had only seen him once before. She had a slight feeling of satisfaction that he already knew her name.
Maybe thirty years ago she would have come to this café to meet boys like him. Not that she was any good at it, but that need not stop her from coming, and sitting at this table, and trying. Now she let a peace envelope her. A fulfilling peace of knowing she wan’t here to impress anyone.
Age was precious in this way.
Instead violet stared down the street. Lit by the lamps it revealed dew-glossy details of storefronts not yet open, bicycles chained to what they shouldn’t be, and a bread truck turning onto it, and then off of it again. The hum of it’s engine familiar and then gone.
She took a sip of her coffee as she watched a stray dog sniff the curb, trot a few feet, and start smelling something else. A man with a bag of parcels walked past and waved at her as he rifled through his deliveries. She waved back and noticed the slow saturation of the eastern sky behind him. The sun was rounding on her and her table at the café.
Leonard Lankbottom, despite his unfortunate name, was one of Violets dearest friends in this world. He usually arrived as the light did, and only with rare exception. If it were raining, Leonard had his coffee at home. On Saturdays, he attended mass and she wouldn’t see him until Sunday. But today was Sunday, and the skies were clear.
Even as the postal worker passed by, Leonard’s shape emerged in a way only he knew how. He was stretching as he walked, as if this might be an efficient way to travel on foot. Arms to the street lamps and jaw yawing like a canyon. He made his way toward Violet.
“Morning Vie,” he said, and he ambled on passed her toward the bar to order coffee.
“Leonard,” she said through the steam curling out of her mug.
And the two sat together and waited for his coffee to arrive. Much like any other day.
Sometime they were quiet. Sometimes they had mutual small talk. Usually, Leonard had some unimportant news from around town that could only be shared in long, breath-forgotten dialogue.
“My granddaughter was in the ballet last night,” he said.
“Oh! Did you go?”
“Front row,” he said, scooting up closer to the table anticipating his drink to come.
“That’s lovely,” Violet said, “How did she do?”
“Violet, you wouldn’t believe and angel like that sprouted from anything that sprouted from me.”
The boy set a hot cup of coffee, with a little cream, in front of Leonard.
“Thank you,” Leonard said, and he proceeded to describe his pride for his grand-daughter and the night previous to Violet.
She continued her morning much as she had before he had arrived. Quiet and observing. Drinking her coffee slowly, paying close attention to the story at hand. This story was about a girl and her grandfather at the ballet. Earlier the story was about the wordless morning, the opening smells of a day starting, and the lights that had been there through the night.