She was sitting in this bar, at this table, moving it straight. On the tabletop were cuts and notches, referred to names she didn’t know.

A view through the dusty windows: A chicken fluttered across the street clucking. The roofs of the houses seemed so near, they touched, they stood high and closed together. A tabby cat slept on the burst steps of a house entrance. The houses referred via stucco and ledges to their weathered inscriptions. Among them were shops with buying and selling, jewelry and second-hand goods. Passers-by walked, strolled, hurried next to each other, with each other, in front of each other, after each other.

With her eyes closed, she drank a margarita. Delicious. She kept the first small sip in her mouth for a second, until orange liqueur, tequila and the juice of limes caused a fantastic taste explosion. She licked off her lips and tasted the salt. This cocktail took them back in time and yet let the present prevail. “Same again!” So she wanted to wait for the afternoon, and with what she desired. I’ll see what I can do.

She finally wanted to elude all influence. The thought alone promised a piece of freedom. Out of pleasant boredom, she reflected herself in the large picture with the blue woman. It was on the opposite wall. She pushed her brown-golden hair behind her ear, fingered a cigarette from the box, only four left, lit it and the smoke burned the bronchi with a sharp sting.

Three. Four. Five o’clock. She controlled the hours and time. Thoughts sorted recommendations and assumptions. It was a game. She’d played a lot.

She crumpled up the empty box. Flies guarded the plant on the windowsill.

Someone turned the control of the stereo, basses hummed and vibrated up to the brains. Murmurs hung like a bell over the tables. Coffee, beer and other things. A waitress with a gooseneck and large feet was always running. It had gotten warm, too warm. The smells of the guests hung in the haze, their thoughts, questions, and answers. She absorbed everything, looked outside, the cat was still sitting there, the chicken had disappeared. It was supposed to be one last time she sat in this room.

The massive front door was opened, again and again, going in and out, even now. Rainy air threw in a bombardment of smells. It smelled of rain and the sweet scent of hawthorn mixed with it. Small gusts of wind made the glasses on the counter shake.

She didn’t have to turn around. His contours were already visible in the picture with the blue woman. She knew his walk. Fast, light, springy. He stayed behind her. His smile was reflected in the glass. She felt his hand on her shoulder before she even settled on it. Possessive.

She remembered briefly, saw him lying next to her in the sand. It seemed a long time ago, and it looked like it was now. When he kissed her neck, she came back from her thoughts. As a matter, of course, he pushed a chair close to hers, sat down, opened the black folder he always carried with him. “Your manuscript… Interesting…” He stretched his words, they were supposed to underline importance.

The printed pages were on the table. With his words, sentences had lost their innocence. He smiled, ordered a grappa. One more. Already his breath and his words smelled of raspberries. The Cascades of sentences followed. She smelled more and more raspberries, there were too many.

From the kitchen, she heard the rushed rattling of pots and pans. Two pizzas. Garlic, basil, and thyme, a hint of southern fishing villages. They ate slowly, talked, he made plans for tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, she made none. His and her words traveled once again from Greece to Cuba, they had neither period nor comma. Colorful fantasies.

Cafe Wunderbar closed as usual at three.

It was cool that night. She put her hands in her jacket pocket. He too. They walked through the quiet city until the sun rose and remained silent.

When he said, “Your manuscript,” it sounded like a bang.

“It’s not that important now. That’s the station over there. Somewhere under a blue sky with a blue sea, with white houses, with words that belong only to us.”

His face became a single question.

“And it’s quite alright
And goodbye for now
Just look up to the stars
And believe who you are
Cause it’s quite alright
And so long, goodbye.”

She raised her hand. One last smile. She went into the morning.

Monika Detering

Monika Detering wanted to be a cabin boy or a painter. She became a puppet master and worked in New York, Washington and Philadelphia as well as on the East Frisian Islands. Today she writes and publishes novels such as “Der Sommer des Raben” (2017), “Ich bin Hermann (2017), and Thrillers, most recently “Macht, Gier und Haie” (2017), “Bittere Liebe an der Ruhr” (2017), together with Horst-Dieter Radke (2017). She lives with her husband in Bielefeld,Westphalia, Germany, has three grown daughters and loves her big colorful family very much.
Monika Detering

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