The sun shines slanted through the windows, bright enough that Charlie has to squint her eyes and fix her gaze towards the menu for the fourth time that day. She's memorised the specials by now—apple pie, towering cakes, half-full glass of wine. The bottom of her glass stares back ruefully at her, and she takes a sip, tasting nothing but ice and watered-down gin. Her thin wedding ring burns a hole through her finger. She contemplates removing it for a heartbeat, before returning to drumming her fingers on the table; the sound muffled by cloth.
If she takes a moment to scan her surroundings, she'll notice the people hurriedly shuffling through the streets, both purposeless and purposeful with their laboured sighs and irritated glances at their wristwatches. She despises them.
She'd nearly brought papers to grade, but had refused to last-minute; a decision she terribly regrets now. Her phone is nearly dead with no way of charging it in sight, and she rearranges her food on her plate. Maybe she'll finish the rest of her meal within the next hour. Maybe she'll make awkward eye contact with the tired waiter nearing the end of his shift again.
A thin, reedy man walks into the cafe. He blinks at her, opens his mouth, closes it, shrugs his head and walks out. The room now smells of sawdust and figs. She rises to her feet and unwinds the scarf around her neck before coiling it on top of the table. She removes the wedding ring from her finger and smiles; turns it over her fingers.
She parts her lips. She swallows the ring down. Her throat is stuck, seized shut, nobody watches her as her eyes roll back into her head. Vessels pop. Eyes are engulfed by a bruise.
The warmth from the sun disappears.
Madeleine Tomasoa is a writer from Jakarta, Indonesia. You can find Madeleine’s work in Sledgehammer Lit, Functionally Dead, Severine Lit, Querencia Lit and WryTimes. They have also written for videogames, and have produced music videos. Currently Madeleine can be found watching cars going around in a circle for fun. Twitter: @madeleinetms