I don’t know how I find myself sitting at some casual café with Benny.
First: Benny dislikes cafés.
Second: I dislike Benny.
Third: That bitch broke my heart.
We sit underneath one of the many pea green umbrellas swirling in the hot summer air, the cobble stone wearing my thin trainers down even more. Benny’s hair is always down; today is no exception, even in the high temperature.
My sluggish clothes contrast the clean and prim ones she wears. Four years ago I would have dressed in a pressed shirt and nice pair of jeans with my hair perfectly cut. How time changes.
Maybe I shouldn't have let that break-up get to me. That way when Benny came back I would be successful and brilliant. And rich. Money would be nice.
I didn’t plan for Benny. I don’t plan ahead, period. I didn’t plan for her to walk out of my life and I definitely didn’t plan for her to walk back in. If I did, maybe I would be that guy. The guy you want to marry and have nice wizard kids with.
Honestly, I don’t think I was ever that guy. I hate responsibility and I hate stress. Being with Benny brought that up with her talks of careers and futures. I always wanted to become an Auror before her, but when I was with her, that dream becoming a reality was scary. If I became an Auror then I would know how my life would be, give or take, for the next fifty years. Knowing the future is scary; thus, I hate planning.
Benny loves planning. She keeps those annoying little books with pink paper all the time, writing who knows what. I bet she wrote down this coffee date. Why in God’s name would you need to write down the time we’re getting coffee? She’s not forgetful and would have remembered it just fine. I think it’s psychological; she thinks she needs to plan out her life and have everything in her control. Benny is all about control. The only time she didn’t have control was when she was with me.
Why am I thinking about all these things now? I guess because when you step back from the original star struck allure that comes with love, you get to see their faults you never realized were there.
“So how’s everyone been?” Benny asks, trying to make conversation.
“Eh, I wouldn't know,” I respond.
“You don’t talk to them?”
“You don’t either, so I don’t see why it’s such a surprise to you,” I say, slouching in the wicker chair.
She brushes her hair carefully as though she’s nervous. She’s not nervous though. She never is.
“What do you want to drink, Ted?”
“Whatever you’re having,” I shrug again.
She orders some coffee imported from Italy.
“What do you do now?”
“I work in the Department of Magical Filing.”
“Funny. How is Vic doing?” she asks, unfazed by my sarcasm. She is the only other person besides Dom to dislike Vic.
“Um, I suppose she’s doing fine. Lives with her boyfriend now. Don’t see her often, mostly just Dom. Um, we’re all going to France soon.”
“When?” she asks breathlessly.
“What are you doing ‘til then?”
“Packing, maybe. Whatever I usually do.”
The coffee comes and I take a sip. Benny doesn’t touch her drink. I think she’s done talking and is waiting for me to say something.
“I have this party I’m going to tonight if you’d like to come...” I murmur
“Oh sure,” she says, sounding detached.
“I’m going to regret this,” I begin.
She laughs at that one. I find myself smile at her for the first time in four years.
“Big Al! Ayy!” I yell, swooping into the back of the kitchen. Big Al has dark chocolate skin with a beer belly and stands over the greasy set of fries in oil. He wears a hairnet over his bald head that he lifts up when he sees me.
“AY! Dom! Late shift buddy, how’s your karma today?” Big Al believes a lot about karma and asks me everyday how my karma is; I always humor him.
I tie my stained red apron on and tie up my hair answering, “Pretty okay, actually.”
“Ya hear that, Jason? Dom’s pretty okay!” Big Al laughs to Jason who is just entering the small kitchen.
Jason is a little cutie. He’s a sixteen–year-old kid who got the job because his dad knows the owner of this dump. He ruffles his blond hair and hugs me hello.
I hug him back and squeeze his munchkin cheeks, “What a cutie! Aw, Jason I missed you the last couple of days!”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t miss you babying me. A girl actually checked me out yesterday.”
Big Al whoops with laugher. “Hey Al, stop spitting on these people’s food!” I yell at him, grinning. I turn back to Jason who hands me a tray of burgers. “And I bet that girl was looking at the mustard on your nose.”
He quickly rubs the mustard off his nose. “It wasn’t there yesterday!”
“Yeah, Yeah! Which table, kid?” I ask, rolling my eyes and pointing to the tray in my hand.
“Seven, and tell Kesha to come back in here for her tray. She’s been flirting with that old kid on the far side of the place for the last ten minutes,” Jason says, pushing me out the door.
I walk over to table seven, a bunch of teens, and give out their order smoothly. Then I walk over to Kesha, a thirty five-year-old redhead who’s too flirty for her own good.
“Girl! Get back in the kitchen before Big Al comes out here and drags you back.”
“Oh Dom, you know I’m just teasing with these fellows,” she laughs, walking with me back to the kitchen.
“You’re just a cougar,” I say back.
“Darling you’re a couple milestones from me so don’t worry.”
Jason lounges back on the counter and says, “Pretty fast night.”
“It’s only 10:30. Wait ‘til the weirdos come in around 2:30. They order burgers with nutella!” Big Al says.
“Aw don’t go poking fun at Mickey! He’s a good paying customer,” I say.
“Speaking of good paying things, who is that?” Jason asks, looking out of the small kitchen window at Vic.
I roll my eyes, “My sister. Prissy one she is.”
“She looks scared,” Kesha says, a little worried.
I laugh seeing Vic looking apprehensively around at the dingy diner.
“What’s she doing here?” Jason asks.
“I got her a job; she needs some money,” I shrug.
Big Al whistles, “Little thing she is!”
“Best go out there before one of those fellows tries to pick her up,” Kesha warns me.
“Ya’ll best go out there before we lose customers,” Big Al inserts.
Jason rolls his eyes and follows me out the door. He takes a table while I go up to Vic, apron in hand.
“Hey, guess you found the place alright.”
“You could say that...Dom is it safe to work here?” She asks looking around.
“Absolutely. Now you get a solid ten-dollars-an-hour - Muggle money obviously - so you’ll have to go to Gringotts to exchange it once a week. Everyone else who works here are Muggles. That small cutie over there is Jason. Works here to pay his college tuition in the future. Mum’s a crack addict, and dad’s on the way. The one who just walked out of the kitchen door behind the counter is Kesha. Works part-time to pay for private school for her son. You’ll meet Big Al soon. Here’s your apron.”
Vic processes the information I give her while looking at the stained apron in distaste.
“I really am grateful for the job Dom...” she trails off, looking at the low lighting to the outdated 80s style diner.
“Remember France, Vic. Keep your eye on the prize,” I say. “You have those tables in the back, though we all switch whenever we want to keep things interesting. Your shift ends same as mine, at 4:00am.”
She nods and puts on her apron. The bells on the tops of the door rings, “You got your first customer, good luck!”
“What? I’m not trained yet Dom! What do I say?” Vic asks, panicking.
“You say, ‘Can I take your order?’”
“What if they say, ‘no’?!”
“Vic,” I say, giving her a no bullshit look. She shakes her head and says “Right, I’m being ridiculous. How hard can a waitress job be?”
I take a chance and tell Benny to meet me at my apartment. Honestly, a couple scenarios can go down. She jumps my bones, looks in distaste of my living conditions and walks away or comes in.
Unfortunately for me she comes in.
I’m in my room looking for my keys I have lost again. I don’t want to take the chance on Beatrice being in a foul mood and locking me out. I have no idea where Dom is tonight so her place is a no-go.
Dom has an extra pair of my keys on her....damn where could she be?
Benny is half-leaning half-sitting on the windowsill going between watching me search for my keys and taking in my room.
The apartment we shared four years ago was big, airy, and clean. I didn’t smoke back then, so that helped with the smell I suppose. Everything was shiny and warm from the kettle on our new stove to our barely used leather couch.
Now I don’t know where any of that is. Benny took most of it. I still have the kettle, though it’s chipped and worn now.
I admit I was a little bitter when she left me. Left me alone with that empty apartment… nothing to look at except that damned kettle. I remember drinking coffee for three days just watching the sky until Dom came over and offered me a meal, place to stay, and a smoke.
‘Sometimes you just need a fucking smoke and Teddy, this is your time.’
I guess that’s when I became a smoker, and I guess a coffee drinker. I always say it was Dom that started me smoking, but looking back, it was really Benny who drove me towards it.
“You take beautiful pictures,” I hear her say.
I turn around to see her looking at a set of photos hanging from the ceiling by the window. In between the hanging pictures were shards of covered glass from alcohol bottles in different colors that reflected in the sunlight.
I straighten up, a little embarrassed that she thinks I went from Auror-in-training to amateur photographer.
“It’s just something to do on the side. Dom got me a Muggle camera four years ago to do something,” I say.
“She’s in a lot of pictures,” Benny responds, her icy eyes still fixed on the slowly rotating photo where Dom was looking down, her face half hidden, her bright blond hair looking sunny. A slither of her red lips made it in the picture.
“It was December two years ago when I took that picture. We were actually in her friend’s coffee shop...” I trail off.
“You made a lot of memories...without me,” she says, looking back outside to the dark sultry night of summer.
I shrug “It didn’t feel like a lot of memories, just of a whole lot of wasting time. I was -sorry am - in a flux and I take every day not planning just doing whatever I want.”
“You sound like some Parisian writer,” smiles Benny.
“Except I’m no story teller.”
Her smile fades, and she looks at me with those eyes that used to make me melt. Used to.
She holds up my key, “This it? Found it by the heater.”
“Yeah, now let’s leave before my roommate gets here.”
“Who’s your roommate?” she asks.
“Another day...” I murmur, already walking out of my room.
Dom and Vic working together?
Dom's co-workers, Kesha, Jason and Big Al?
More of Benny, for better or worse?
Let me know in the comments below :)
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