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Stars and Umbrellas

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He comes every day at 9am, borrows the paper and has a cup of coffee, black. The cheapest on the menu. He doesn't say much, only pays with his coins and takes a seat by the window.

Sometimes he doesn't read the paper and only stares out of the window, eyes unseeing.

There's a sadness that follows him, that shines out of every smile, every nod, every little crease in his forehead, and that clings to his clothes with their patches and holes.

I asked him once why he was so sad, but he answered that he wasn't sad.

He was in love.

When it rains he brings his umbrella, a holey red monstrosity that doesn't shield much against the rain. He stays longer, then. When it snows, he asks for tea.

Sometimes he doesn't show at all. He'll be gone for a few days, and I wonder, does he follow his love then? But he always comes back, orders his coffee and borrows the paper and takes a seat by the window.

In the summer he asks for iced coffee, but only on Saturdays.

One day he comes without his coat. When I ask, he tells me the coat is beyond salvation. I don't see him with a coat on for four months. He wears sweaters instead, threadbare and old, but they seem to keep him warm.

There comes a day when he doesn't come back. I imagine that he's followed his love.

I hope he has.

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