You used to drink coffee three times a day. Every morning, I would grind the beans and make a fresh brew in the cafetiere my mother had given me and it smelt glorious. I thought it was relaxing to watch the filter paper grow heavy with clumping coffee granules as the boiling water trickled through. And besides, when I would snuggle back under the duvet with my feet cold from kitchen tiles and gave you a warm mug and a kiss tasting of spring mornings, you would smile.
When you first went away, I slept with your postcards under my pillow. My bed didn’t smell like you anymore so it was the best I could do to ensure that you still slept with me every night. I liked to think of what you were doing when you wrote to me; why the second ‘e’ of the date of the third postcard was sloppier than the first, how you decided upon the number of kisses after your name – 2, 1, 3, 2, 2, 8, 1 – respectively, and the smile on your face as you wrote “yours truly” on the back of the Eiffel Tower. But mostly I thought about how your words were with me, even when you weren’t and I was secure in the knowledge that your words were my words and I had dutifully hidden them from prying eyes.
Sometimes, I wore the t-shirt that you left here. The cotton was old and thin and there were a couple of holes poking through near the seams but it reminded me of last summer before you left for France. You had stayed for longer than you had intended that week and had run out of clothes, so you wore the branded top for three days straight because it was your favourite. When I tried, I thought I smelt your perfume and my chocolate ice-cream that had dripped onto the purple sleeve last July. But most of the time I knew that I had washed it three times since and if anything, it smelt of the orange juice I had spilt the previous Thursday morning. I was sure that you would tell me off for ruining it when you got back.
I got the e-mail on Sunday 7th Feburary. Almost six months to the date that you had started your art course. The postcard with eight kisses was dated December and it all seemed very clear now that every extra kiss was not a kiss at all, but a letter of the alphabet laced with guilt. How naïve I had been.
There was no decent coffee in the house anymore.
I had stopped buying coffee beans when you left because it didn’t seem worth my time and energy grinding beans that could just have easily have been bought in a jar from Tescos. I had wasted too much of my time, I think.
The lemon I cut made my eyes water for a moment, but I wiped it away.
I floated one perfect triangle of lemon on the Earl Grey in my mother’s china cup. And with cold toes and a spring in my step, I went to kiss my new girlfriend good morning.