the sepia self

She always did love the idea of coffee – the smell of it, the feel of it, the way it made her seem sophisticated whenever she made it. She loved the way it looked when the milk made patterns in the steaming sepia liquid before disappearing into the foam.

But she hated the taste.

And it was the same with cigarettes. She always wanted to be a smoker, to carry fancy cigarettes and fancier lighters and to be able to ‘pop out for a smoke’, but, as hard as she tried to force the addiction, she got nothing from cigarettes except a pounding headache and the urge to never touch them again.

And oh, how she wanted to go to parties. She wanted to sip champagne and wear slinky black dresses and be asked to dance by talldarkhandsome young men and they’d twirl the night away to smooth jazz, played live of course, and she would have legions of admirers after her, begging for her hand, but she’d turn them all down with a tinkling laugh because who would ever want to settle down when they had a life like this, and the very air surrounding her would be filled with mystery and excitment and


the cold night air blew roughly in, blowing the eviction notices from her spindly old table. She blinked, the smooth jazz fading out of her mind and the sound of sirens taking its place.

The shadows under her eyes were big enough and dark enough for all her childhood monsters to hide in and her hair was hanging limply around her face, but she was smiling a slightly off-balance smile as she slowly poured some sour milk into the stained cup in front of her.

And her smile grew as she watched it make patterns in coffee she’d never drink, while her fingers toyed absently with cigarettes she’d never smoke.


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