Dusty miller

I sat down opposite her and rubbed my eyes. A short ray of sunlight divided the table, me in light, her in shadow. Colorless shadow. A withered potted "Dusty Miller" that i bought from Manila Seedling bank sat on the table. Outside, someone was watering down the street. Splash on the pavement, smell of wet asphalt graced Malumanay Street.

"Want some coffee?"
No reply.
So I got up and went over to grind coffee for two cups. It occurred to me after I ground the coffee that what I really wanted was ice tea. I'm forever realizing things too late.

The transistor radio played a succession of innocuous pop songs. A perfect morning soundtrack. The world had barely changed in four years. Only the singers and song titles. And my age.
The water came to a boil. I shut off the gas, let the water cool thirty seconds, poured it over the coffee. The grounds absorbed all they could and slowly swelled, filling the room with a sweet aroma.

"Been here since last night?" I asked, kettle in hand.
An ever so slight nod of her head.
"You've been waiting all this time?"
No answer.

The room had steamed up from the boiling water and strong sun. I shut the window and switched on the air conditioner, then set the two mugs of coffee on the table.

"Drink," I said. reclaiming my own voice.
Silence.
"Be better if you drank something."
It was thirty seconds before she raised her head slowly, evenly, and gazed absently at the withered potted plant. A few fine strands of hair lay plastered against her dampened cheeks, a sign that tears ran through her face.

"You know I only drink milk tea. Oh by the way dont mind me,
I didn't mean to cry." She said.

I held out a box of tissues to her. She quietly blew her nose, then brushed the hair from her cheek.

"Actually, I planned on being gone by the time you returned. I didn't want to see you."
"But you changed your mind, I see." I said.
"Not at all. I didn't have anywhere else I wanted to go. But I'm going now, don't worry."

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