Just one coffee

By Shadi Ziaie
The Iranian
May 1997

She calls me after six months again. Can I buy you coffee she says. A glass of wine perhaps. No I say. No. I'm leaving the country she says. First I'll visit my dad in the Bahamas and then my mom in Iran. She sounds final. She's not coming back. OK I say. OK. Just coffee. What harm could it do?

Of course I never thought she could do me harm. Me out of all people. The only person alive who would listen to her. Even ghosts would run away at the sight of her. No harm to me I said. No harm. But she called up my boyfriend one night and tired to lure him into bed with her. She blamed it all on him. All of it. I believed her. For a couple of days at least. And then I broke it off with them. Both of them. That was three years ago.

After that she called me every six months like it was scheduled in her life. Like she had it jotted down in her calendar. Every six months she called to give me some news that she felt concerned me: I'm getting married. I'm not getting married. I got a steady job. My dad's island was flooded. I have cancer.

And now she's going back. Really. What harm could it do? Just one coffee.

Now that I think back I really don't know why I said OK. The details escape me now although it wasn't that long ago. I had no intentions of making up with her. I had no desire to see her. I had no interest in her stories. Whatever went through my mind in that short stretch of time is hidden to me. Somewhere in my subconscious mind I felt like it was necessary to see her again I suppose. To see those green deceiving eyes. To hear that beautiful manipulating voice. To be the only person who would take her back. Whatever it was it only took seconds and never came back. I hung up the phone and wondered why. I did go to the coffee shop. Perhaps I was late. Perhaps I was early. Perhaps I got there, left to buy cigarettes and went back again. Perhaps I saw a not so very close friend and took off with him to another coffee shop. Perhaps I didn't look in the back room. Or perhaps she never showed up. Whatever it was I never saw her that night. I don't think I will ever see her again.


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