Her mind in Metaphors
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She watched him come into the coffee house and to her it felt like a warm breeze, a grand entrance accompanied by blaze orange leaves and the smell of fresh pine burning.
She soon overcame her observations, her metaphoric heart, and she wondered if he’d ever had his boots resoled; if the carabineer through his belt loop had ever held a rope or was it simply for the keys of an expensive sports car? Was the North Face a place to him or a clothing line?
The man turned suddenly towards her, a deer sensing movement in the brush – distant but heard, and she startled back to her book, Rabelais, where was she now? She couldn’t help but blush.
As he turned away, she noticed that he appeared uncomfortable here, out of place. Maybe he was a man of the woods. He had on a long black pea coat, tattered jeans and a coarse plaid shirt. His hair was wispy around the ears with sideburns to mid-cheek. She imagined him climbing a mountain.
In the daydream, which she chased with sips from a vanilla latte, she imagined him scaling something snowy, something tall – with friends, and his jaw line was covered with an ice encrusted beard. She imagined that he wore handmade snowshoes on this venture, strapped to his feet by leather straps from a saddle bag he’d used in India.
The sounds of the cashier saying, Next customer please, jostled her back to the coffee shop. The man walked up to the counter and set both hands on it, leaning forward slightly as if to peruse a great expanse of valley, only here it was the Last Drop’s menu board. The cashier leaned slightly forward into the current of his presence.
I’ll take a Venti Soy Chai, extra chai and can I get whip cream on that? he said.
On a chai? the cashier answered, and you mean a large?
He said, Exactly, and once again turned around with a quick motion; she imagined a cape of beaver furs whipping around as he made this maneuver. Out the window he stared, lovingly; he could only breathe in the indoors for so long; he needed natural sunshine, dirt and blue sky. He waited for his drink.
Her story expanded. The group he was climbing with was struggling. It was a spring blizzard of the worst possible conditions; the men were using cairns to guide them up the mountain but they struggled now. They had not packed for the ice, only the snow, and the men agonized as they dug the steely point of their snowshoes into the hard pack, their calf muscles screaming, their faces frozen.
With his drink and a brownie attained, the man sat down roughly. It was like a tree falling into a creek, the way he sat down. Some change fell from one of his pockets and his bangs fell down into his eyes, their color still unknown to her. In her mind, they were Amalfian blue.
He took a sip of his coffee and a little bit of cream stuck to the stubble above his lip. He either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He leaned back in his chair and removed a knife from the inside pocket of his vest. With the fork provided by the coffee shop, he started to cut the brownie into careful little pieces. The story in her head slammed into an impenetrable smog. He lined up the brownie pieces into neat little rows on his plate and placed a napkin across his lap. He was melting in front of her eyes, his long hair suddenly looked permed, his stubble stylized with gel and not the sweat of his efforts. Humming, he took little nibbles of the brownie and chewed each portion cautiously.
The mountain adventure was gone. A pair of designer argyles peeked out from beneath his pre-torn jeans. All she could see now was him, the group of men, huddled against one of the icy cairns, wondering what to do, while he sipped from a Capri Sun and snacked upon little packages of raisins that his mom had packed for him.
She pulled the plug on this particular metaphor and walked down Pine Street towards home, alone, but better off for now.