Evening in the Café

written by Katie Farrell. Katie is a fourth-year English with Creative Writing student and has been writing since the age of eleven. She aspires to continue her writing journey post graduation.

I ride the bus in silence. Rain soaks the cobblestones, smooth and wet like black tongues. In Costa, I order a ham and cheese croissant and sit down. Mystery Achievement plays on the café’s stereo. Beside me, two men converse quietly over murmuring voices. The air is warm and packed- the windows and doors shut tight. The men discuss something urgent. I pick at my croissant; white cheese bleeding over the side, the plate sweating.

The rain is relentless, pelting against the window. One of the men next to me shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

I open my book.

“I have these strange thoughts sometimes,” he says.

I squint my eyes at the letters as they merge and blur.

“Ye just have to keep it going, keep it going. You’re a wonderful, wonderful lad.”

A woman in a dark green coat enters the café; a gulp of cold wind sweeps across my ankles; the book page flickers. The heat settles down again.

“I think about hurting animals,” the man beside me says.

I cough but I don’t mean to. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the man opposite slightly turning his head, a dark smudge against the well-lit room. I press the book closer to my face, almost touching my nose. I can smell the musty paper.

“You’re a bright lad, ye shouldn’t be thinking these things, think positive, you’re too young, far too young.”

I pull up my jeans to scratch my leg, glancing at the men. The younger of the two is hunched over in his seat, eyes fixed on the floor, the older man sitting back against the brown velvet chair, legs crossed, chest rising and falling slowly.

“There’s something wrong with me.”

I swallow the last of the croissant, warm and thick as it travels down my throat. I close the book.

“You’re doin’ just fine.”

For a while there is silence. I stare at the book cover now sitting on the table; a sketch of Dorian Grey against a royal blue background, the empty plate beside it, a crumpled napkin, and an unused knife.

“I’m not being fully honest,” the younger man says.

The older man sits forward in his seat and rests his chin in his hands, his elbows on his thighs.

“About what, son?”

I slowly put on my jacket, closing each button gently.

“I think about hurting people too.”

The silence between them resumes. It seems as though everyone else has lowered their voice, too. I look around but all I see are regular customers talking or texting. They are unaware of these men and their conversation. Or perhaps they have chosen not to listen.

I stand up suddenly and steal one last look at the younger man. A tear sits quivering on his cheek.

I open the door and grit my teeth against the rain.

Previously published in Flux: Issue I

Image: Free Sweets Inside by Conor Bailey. Conor (he/him) is a final year history and politics student in UCD. He likes to feature elements of Dublin and its characters in his creative writing and photography.

CategoriesIssue VIII