Roses for Supper
Trey Kidd picked a fallen rose petal from the table and ate it. Eyes, light, eyes.
Soon, when the time was right, Kate Elder would hand him the box of love poems that her grandfather had written for him, forty years ago. She poured Trey, and then herself, another cup of tea to prepare the moment.
That afternoon, she’d waited at the café for him to show up for his shift. He hadn’t. When the evening barista, a young woman, reported for work, Kate was about to call it quits and try again another day. But at the changing of the shifts, she overheard the baristas talking about the company they worked for. They didn’t work for the café–they worked for a service company that contracted with the two biggest cafés in town and a handful of restaurants, which meant that if Trey Kidd weren’t showing up here today, chances were he was working the other café. Kate knew better than to ask, for it seemed to be company policy not to disclose any information about the former celebrity. She caught the bus to town and got to Busk and Bar in the lull between the evening and late-night crowd. She was the only customer.
The man tending the espresso bar wore his gray hair long. He was about the right age to be Kidd. A man can change so much between youth and age that Kate wasn’t sure how to recognize him. If she’d met him when she was a child, during the years he’d studied with her grandfather, she couldn’t remember. She only knew him from his album photos, his recorded voice, and the descriptions in her grandfather’s poems.
He sang while he worked, “Amazing Grace.” It was the same voice, recognized more by cadence than timbre. He had this way of tilting his head upwards while he sang, so softly, that charmed her.
“Mr. Kidd?” she asked.
He looked at her long. “You look familiar,” he said with a gentle smile. “Were you a student?”
She felt flattered to be thought young enough to have been one. There couldn’t have been more than fifteen years, at the most, between them. She would have been one of his first students, if that had been the case.
“No,” she said. “You knew my grandfather, Solomon Elder.”
His face broke out in light. “That’s shaking the old memory tree,” he said. “You must be the Young Elder, Katy-Moon.”
“No one calls me that anymore,” she said. “I go by Kate.”
“But you can call me Katy-Moon, if you’d like,” she added, quietly. “I forgot how much I like the sound of that.”
A customer arrived, then a few more, and then it was the late-night rush.
When he’d taken care of the line, Kate said, “I’d like to talk with you. About my grandfather.”
“I’d like that very much,” he said. “I close up in half an hour. Is that too late? Or we could meet tomorrow.”
It wasn’t too late. She helped him close, and then they walked together to her home, the home that used to belong to her grandfather.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been here,” Trey Kidd said.
“I don’t remember you coming,” said Kate.
“Oh! You were always out roaming the beach and meadow with your husky! What was his name?”
“And when you returned, you had no patience for a room full of philosophy students, arguing with each other and hanging on every word of your grandpa’s.”
“I didn’t know what I was missing,” Kate said.
“Oh, yes! I think you did! The grasses, sky, and ocean are far better companions than dissolute youth!” He laughed.
He sat at the kitchen table, eating the fallen rose petals, while she made tea.
What was this brightness within her? What path led here, twisting through tangled lines of moleskin notepads, through the spaces in the poems in spiral-bound notebooks, to a white box, filled with packets of rice-paper poems, written for him? It was a path of words and silence, of revelations and secrets, of pain and succor.
“I’ve been looking for your for a while now,” Kate said. “You were very important to the person I loved the most.”
Prompt for May 27: “Start a story that begins with the ending, then immediately jumps back in time,” from StoryADay.org.