The Decision

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They met outside of the café. The sun was warm and the street was quiet.

He held out her chair and she sat. The metal seat felt cool through her summer skirt.

He sat across from her as the waiter came. They both ordered coffee, black.

It was brought to the table almost immediately.

Words were not exchanged as they sat there, sipping their coffee and looking out across the street.

She was watching two children playing in the fountain in the town circle.

He was watching the shop owner up the street wash his window. The window was covered in suds. Fresh Bread Made Daily the window said.

They could both smell the bread from their table.

Finally he spoke.

“We have to make a decision.”

“I know” she replied. She took another sip of coffee.

The children were running now, in circles around the fountain, laughing under the deluge.

Their mothers were sitting on a bench, talking and watching.

“I don’t really want too, you know” she stated.

“I know,” he replied softly, still watching the window washer. “But we don’t have a choice. She can’t…”

“I know she can’t,” she interrupted sharply. Realizing, her tone softened. “I just wish we didn’t have to be making this decision.”

“We have to,” he said again. “We owe this to her. She left the burner on again last night….you know she got lost last week…every since Dad died it’s been getting worse…”

Looking at the creamer on the table she decided that she would have some. Pouring it into her cup it made a cloud as the black coffee turned brown. She mixed it with the spoon just for something to do.

She thought. “Isn’t there a song out, something about clouds in my coffee…?”

She sighed.

“That was us, you know” she said, nodding towards the children and their mothers. “And that was her. When did this change? When did we become the ones having to make the decisions?”

He shook his head.

The window washer was rinsing his window. “Remember when she used to take us there?” he said. “She would let us have one slice of whatever we wanted.”

She smiled. “Only one, because we couldn’t ruin our dinner.”

They both laughed, strain combined with a good memory.

Sober, she said “She won’t like it.”

He set his cup down.

They looked at each other.

“She thought I was Uncle Steve” he said.

She nodded, biting her lip then looking away as tears started to come.

“Ok.” she said. Wiped her eyes with her napkin.

“Let’s start looking…”

“I have a list of places to start” he pulled a folded paper out of his pocket. “We can pick the best ones and then go visit them…”

And they began to compare and to discuss as the children went on playing in the fountain and their mothers continued watching.

And the window washer finished and went back inside his store.