Despite the scathing looks the employees shot his way for walking in five minutes before closing, he walked up to the register and ordered his usual small coffee. The girl behind the counter was polite enough, though she didn’t smile and her “Thank you” seemed a little strained. He didn’t mind; he understood their impatience. Still, he had to do this, like he did every night.
Taking the cup of coffee, he walked to the condiment counter and poured in a little milk and sugar, watching the white and black swirl together into creamy brown. As he sat at an empty table, he grabbed a section of the day’s newspaper from an adjoining table.
He didn’t read the paper, though, just stared at it, thinking. She used to come with him, his wife. They would walk to the cafe together every night, drink a cup of coffee over old news, then go home to bed. Now he maintained the tradition alone, and remembered her.
A sip of hot coffee slid down his throat, and the girl behind the counter said, “Sir, it’s closing time.”