Angel’s Coffee

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A Stranger in the Seat

“Babe, we’ve talked about this.”

“No, you’ve talked about this. You’ve shut me down every time. When is this going to change?”

“It’s not. It never will.”

Tim’s mind swirled around his words from earlier. He meant what he said. But he hated the look in Rebecca’s eyes when he said it. She looked so sad, so disappointed. He didn’t understand why.

When they first started dating they had talked about it. On their first date, a cheap dinner of pizza and beers after a late night lecture in one of their shared business classes, Rebecca had asked him about it.

She nearly shed a tear after, feeling embarrassed for bringing it up on a first date. Tim didn’t mind. He was as straightforward on the subject as one could be. “I don’t want any,” he told her. Then he did his best to lighten the mood. Terrible jokes and cute games put the question far from his mind. He was sure it did the same for her.

In the years that followed that conversation, she had found out why he answered the way he did. She had never met the man, but what she had heard of Tim’s father had been enough for her to understand why he did not want to be a father. Or at least, he thought it was enough of an answer. Today he found out that answer wasn’t good enough.

“I don’t want them, and you know why.” The words from the morning's argument kept replaying in his mind. He said them soft enough, and Rebecca didn’t raise her voice either. At least not when she said the last words before walking away and closing the door. “You’re not him. You won’t be him.”

The young man working the front counter brought over a large cup and set it on the table before walking back to the room Tim assumed was the kitchen. The drink was dark and steam billowed up from its edges. Without any cream or any foam topping the drink looked plain. But it was anything but.

Tim lost himself in the reflection of his face on the drink’s glossy top. He had greyed slightly. Usually clean shaven, he had left the house this morning without picking up the razor. A small shadow formed on his face, and he ran his hand over it as he looked on in the coffee’s mirror.

“You’re starting to look more and more like me every day.” The voice was rough and grated Tim’s ears. But there was something familiar in it. It was a voice that would bring most people happiness and warmth. To Tim it stopped his heart. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing, sport. Although you do make it look a lot better than I ever did.”

The man sitting across from Tim let a small smile crease his face. It was a sad one. It was a smile that said both ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’m here’. Neither of those were things Tim wanted. Not from this man, the father he never had.
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