The coffee was gone, but the rich aroma still lingered in the small corner shop. A smile curled its way onto Danis face as she watched the last piece of trash fall into the bin. A contented sigh escaped her and she stretched, looking around. It had been a successful first week. The Smooth Brew was a hit amongst everyone young and old. She couldnt believe the outcome.
Goodnight. She heard the last two girls say as they pulled their coats close before exiting the building. She waved absentmindedly after them. Not wanting to mess up the chairs, she made to sit on the counter. It was quiet, the exact opposite to what it had been the entire week. Dani had to admit; she never thought shed see the day that her dream would become a reality.
The night passed on and Dani was startled from her thoughts at the sound of the clock in the town center coming to life, counting the hours. She listened carefully and panicked as the tenth chime faded and was followed closely by the eleventh. It was already this late? In a rush, she quickly checked that everything was closed up before dashing out of the door to go home.
Dani hesitated outside of her apartment door. She didnt have to look at the time to know it was well past midnight. She had stayed too long at the café celebrating alone in her success. Worrying her bottom lip slightly, she took a deep breath before walking through the door. It didnt take her long to find him, the sound of the television echoing throughout the spacious rooms.
Im home, Jared, she said upon entering the living room. She frowned when her husband didnt turn around to at least acknowledge her.
Look, Im really sorry Im home so late. The shop was busy as all get out today! It was a total success! Dani explained, walking over to stand beside his chair. Her heart sank when he still didnt look up at her.
Jared, please. Look at me
Dani pleaded, her voice breaking at the end. Jared!
He moved, shifting ever so slightly, away from her. He rubbed his arm and cleared his throat. Danis lip quivered as she watched her husband break her heart. Why couldnt he be more understanding? She never meant for work to interfere with their lives to the point that it created such a huge rift between them.
She reached down to touch his arm, but thought better of it. She refused to be the needy one in their relationship. He was the one acting childish. The café was newly opened, so the work load was bound to be more demanding. Things would settle down soon enough. Then, and only then, would she attempt to fix something that shouldnt have been broken in the first place.
Walking away, she glanced back once more, hoping to at least catch him looking away quickly from her. At least then shed know that he still cared. However, his gaze was unwavering, still locked onto the screen before him.
Crawling into bed, Dani buried her face into her pillow. She felt them, but the tears never came. The unrelenting urge to cry never left her, even as she drifted off to a restless sleep. Out in the living room, the sound came to an abrupt halt and a moment later Jared walked into the room. He stood in the door way for a moment, staring at the bed in front of him. A sigh escaped him as he reached up to run a hand through his hair.
Walking around the bed, he paused, looking at the opposite side; Danis side. Closing his eyes, he laid down in bed, burrowing under the comforter, even though it was plenty warm in the apartment. Silence stilled through the bedroom only to be broken a moment later by a small, unmistakable sob.
I miss you, Dani
The following day, Danis spirits were lifted only slightly by the hustle and bustle of the shop. Her thoughts continuously drifted back to Jared. She felt the tears threaten once again, but refused to acknowledge them. Forcing a smile, she turned to walk towards the office, waving cheerfully at a, now, regular customer.
Whats he doing here?
The whisper caught her attention. It was a quiet whisper, meant only to be heard between the waitresses standing next to her. However, Dani paused in her reach for the doorknob and turned to see who had suddenly caught the interest of her staff.
He never comes here anymore... Danis eyes widened in confusion. What were they talking about?
Not since that happened
Happened? What happened? She stepped forward, her hand outstretched.
Hi, Jared. The mans distant eyes never met Danis. Instead, they stared steadily past her. Her breath hitched and she turned to see her sister standing just behind her; her eyes holding the same distant sadness as her beloved Jareds.
Whats going on here, Sara? Dani asked, her voice tight with anxiety. Sara stepped forward, holding up a package that Dani hadnt noticed.
It came today, Jared, she said softly, as if speaking any louder would hurt her. Dani was getting annoyed. What was happening?
What came today? She demanded, stomping her foot in a childish attempt to be heard. She heard a strangled noise behind her and looked to see that Jared was near tears. Her heart went out to him, and, without thinking, rushed to help him. However, he walked past her, as if she werent even there.
Let me see it, he pleaded. Hands shaking, he retrieved the package from Sara. His breaths were fast and shallow and he blinked rapidly, forcing the tears out of his sight. Dani watched in bewildered silence as he slowly unwrapped the brown paper package.
The brown wrapping fell to the floor, followed closely by Jared as he dropped to his knees in an undignified lump.
Jared! Dani cried, rushing over to him. She was beat, however, by her sister who knelt down beside him, holding him close and rocking him slightly. Danis face grew hot. What was the meaning of this? Jared was her husband! Why was Sara comforting him? In front of her, no less!
Jared, sweetie, Im so sorry. So, very sorry. I miss her, too. Id give anything to have her back right now. Shed be so proud. Proud of you and this café. Well hang this on the wall, right over there. Everyone can see her and shell never be forgotten. Shell always be loved by you, by us, by everyone. Sara soothed. Dani froze in place, the sound of Jareds sobs being the only proof that time hadnt completely stopped.
? Her voice barely an audible whisper. She stepped forward, her body reluctant, as if she were made of cement. Leaning over her loved ones, she glanced at the object of Jareds sadness.
Crying out, she stepped away quickly, a hand reaching up to cover her mouth. The urge to cry was back, but the tears never came. They never would. She stepped forward again, only this time she reached out to Jared. She sobbed as she watched her hand pass through his mahogany locks, never touching him.
Her crying faded, leaving only the heartbroken weeping of Jared as he clutched the plaque tightly to him, his tears falling down onto the face of his departed wife.
In Memory of
Daniel "Dani" Marie Wallace
1980 - 2008