I’m in the walled garden of the Ambience Café Bar waiting for breakfast to arrive. It’s a small space, paved for tables immediately outside the kitchen, then rising steeply towards the medieval city walls. There’s a breeze in the street but here we are sheltered and a thin sun concentrates on warming us through. At the next table is an old woman who mutters to herself from time to time. She doesn’t touch her tea and she shuffles as though there is something else in there between her skin and her clothes. With her paints and creams she manages to look like a young woman with a ravaging disease.
At the table beyond her are a young couple. She is toned and tanned with long limbs and a wide mouth and red hair. She has plucked her eyebrows and painted them back in again. He is comfortable with a little belly. He has a fringe. He moves his head quickly as if noticing movements the rest of us are unaware of. The waitress brings them a muffin and coffee. A cappuccino for her and filtered black for him. She is unsure who gets the muffin. He smiles up at her, and she places it in front of him. He doesn’t look at the cake. Doesn’t touch it. The waitress backs off and smiles at me. She tells me my order will be ready in a minute.
The old woman at the next table says something into her hand.
The redhead says to her friend, ‘You lost any weight this week?’
He thinks about it. ‘It’s a slow process,’ he says.
‘But you haven’t given up?’
‘No.’ He shakes his head. ‘It’s not easy, but . . .’
‘I’m sure it’s not. Nothing worthwhile is easy.’
He pushes his cake away.
‘What does that mean?’ she asks.
He looks up, way past the sun.
He scans the heavens, Copernicus reborn.
By the time I’ve finished breakfast the couple are long gone. The waitress has been to their table and taken the cups away. But the muffin remains.
The old woman is eyeing it. She notices me watching her watching it.
She lowers her head to the table and covers her eyes and ears.