• Without you

    Sundays are the hardest to get by. The coffee shop is closed, the newsstand only opens in the morning; the school bus doesn’t stop by the door to pick up children; cars don’t honk hastily. Almost all the neighborhood has something better to do than walk by these familiar streets, which are then quiet and handed over to wind whispers on the trees.

    I have breakfast, take my pills, take a shower and spend the morning at the newsstand discussing the daily news with Mr. Manuel and some of his other customers. I prefer when it’s just him and me. The others only like to talk about sports.

    I end up buying “Morning News” more out of habit. It reminds me when the kids were small and disputed the children section of this newspaper. Sometimes they still drop by the house, but it’s more for a quick visit and the certainty of a bill to spend on a night out or whatever they do. Your orange cake is no longer there for them to crave. My stories are no longer funny. They’ve grown up.

    When Mr. Manuel closes the newsstand the street becomes deserted and all I got left is Joe’s. Remember Joe’s? You loved to go there for the seafood rice. I never really appreciated such a delight but had it anyway as it was for two. Now, each time I go there, that’s all I want to have, although I have to comply with meat soup. I know I shouldn’t have meat soup because of my bad digestion; fish would do me better but what can I do? I can’t have fish without someone taking the bones for me. Fish fillets are as far as I go.

    I always sit at the same table, our table, which Joe nicely holds for me with one of those brown plaques with golden letters. I take your seat because it faces the TV and that keeps me distracted from staring at people in other tables. I don’t know how you managed to spend an entire meal without looking at that screen. You simply ignored its existence, as you thought it was rude to look to the side while at the table with someone.

    I eat slowly. Not that I’m enjoying the food; I simply want time to pass by so that I don’t have to go home. When the restaurant is full, I can’t help noticing the looks from those waiting for a table. Usually they’re young, always in a rush, impatient. They’re so used to having everything right away that they become nervous if someone asks them to wait for a second. They look at me with disdain; as one who wonders if I don’t have anything better to do than take a table that could fit four with my dessert, which I eat slowly with a coffee spoon. I ignore them. Fortunately so does Joe. He never made me feel unwanted; never gave me the bill before I asked for it; never took my plate to hurry me. A good man, Joe. That’s why I keep going back every Sunday. And when Peter wants to have lunch somewhere else, I say no. I rather go to Joe’s where, at least sometimes, it smells like seafood rice.

    If it’s raining I stay a little longer, trying to divert myself with the newspaper or with conversations on the other tables that catch my attention. There are some really good ones. Better than many soap opera arguments, you can bet on that. You would find them amusing if you were here. I can picture you raising your eyebrow and hiding your smile behind the napkin.

    If the weather is nice I walk by the deserted streets until tiredness overcomes me and I return home. I find it hard climbing the stairs; I find it hard opening the door; I find it hard looking at your empty chair. If only I had a cat… Well you told me to get a cat. One of these days I’ll follow your advice. Seems that they clean up after themselves and keep one company.

    To turn away from the longing, I make a pan of soup from the recipe you left. I know I could try another recipe; soup can be made out of anything, but I only like yours. I sit there watching the vegetables cook slowly and another hour goes by.

    I take a nap. Read a bit. Eat the soup. Watch the news. Talk to Marisa on the phone, She still doesn’t understand why I don’t go live with her. I couldn’t leave this house! It would be like leaving you. No, I don’t want to leave you. You, who are admiring the dress in the mirror before we go out to dinner. You, who are on the hallway hanging the coats that the kids dropped on the floor. You, who are ironing by the window. You, who are in each of my sighs for more than fifty years.

    I go to bed and close my eyes tight hoping it will make sleep come. Hoping that this Sunday ends soon and with it the pain of another day without you.

    timeless loneliness by Aglayan Agac

    Disclaimer: this story was translated by myself, so there might be some errors. I hope they don't distract readers form the plot. :)
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