She sat down heavily at the little chrome table. She’d just have a minute. Around her the Saturday shoppers passed unaware. The tears had come from nowhere. Well, that wasn’t strictly true… it was the spectacles that had done it, left next to the empty coffee cups. Just like his. A style no-one wore these days. Seeing them there on the table had made her heart lurch. Just a minute, then she’d take them in to the counter. Somebody would be bound to miss them.
He’d always worn the same style… aviators, they called them. She shook her head to clear the memories. It was a long time ago… a good innings, they’d said… Too young though.
She had been young then too, slim and attractive, once the dark circles had faded and the pinched look of grief left her eyes. She was older now than he had been… older by far. In fact, if she was honest, she was just plain old. Old and plain. All illusion of glamour had disappeared beneath the upholstery, the curves had multiplied with a mathematical logic that owed nothing to aesthetics and far too much to gravity.
She didn’t mind. There was compensation… grandchildren, bus passes, senior discounts… that kind of thing. And she had lived more than many; not longer, not yet… but lived with a capital ‘L’. It was a good letter… laughter, love… a good way to live…
She watched the young people passing. Half of them doing twiddly things with their phones, others trying to look interesting… all preening, though, hoping to be noticed. Mothers with pushchairs that looked like something from a science-fiction novel. Men rushing through the shopping with more haste than interest. It never changed, not really.
“What can I get you?” The waitress didn’t meet her eyes. She looked bored, her pen poised over a dog-eared pad covered in scribbles and doodles. She supposed she’d have to order something. One of these new-fangled coffee thingummies. “Madam?… Are you okay?”
The young woman looked upset. She wanted to reassure her but couldn’t seem to find her voice. She stood and felt an arm slide around the slender curve of her waist. “She’s fine,” said a familiar voice. He took the spectacles from her fingers and smiled down at her. “She’s with me now.”