* * *

at 5 o’clock, the small metal alarm clock on the small wooden bedside table rattles itself awake.  elias places a hand upon the clock gently lulling it back to sleep.  dressed in  threadbare cream silk pajamas elias stretches his arms and pushes his chest forward yawning and craning his neck.

he pushes the blanket and sheets to the side stands and makes the bed.  only one side of the bed is disturbed so this is a simple process of replacing the blanket and sheets and sliding his gentle hands over them a few times to remove creases.

elias pads barefoot into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee.  the kitchen has only a halogen bulb sterile and void a paradox of empty light.  as weak coffee brews elias leaves the kitchen and walks to the bathroom and removes his silk pajamas which appear even more threadbare in the halogen light and turns on the shower and waits for the water to warm.

steam clouds the mirror


elias washes and shaves in the shower.

elias steps out of the shower towels himself dry notices more flecks of gray in his thinning brown hair once the mirror is no longer clouded and wonders if Eva would still find him handsome.  his right hand absently with no thought or awareness reaches to touch the silver wedding band on the ring finger of his left hand.

whenever elias remembers Eva his right hand absently drifts to the ring on his left hand.

his right hand often drifts to his left hand.

* * *

weak coffee is now made and ready to be enjoyed if one can enjoy weak coffee with toast and one fried egg.  elias now dressed in a cotton robe sits at the small table in the corner of the halogen lit kitchen and reads no newspaper or work related papers. Eva always had a story or a question or a joke to share at breakfast when the two of them would drink strong coffee and eat two fried eggs with toast and crisp bacon and fresh tomato when in season.  there was never a temptation to read through breakfast.  lack of temptation leads to habit and that is why elias still does not read during breakfast in an empty kitchen.

when he is finished with his meal he washes the inside and exterior of his coffee mug and places it on the small wooden rack to the left of the sink.  he rinses the plate and fork and knife and leaves them in the sink because he will use them again for his dinner.

* * *

elias returns to the bedroom and stands before his closet.  he chooses a pair of worn pinstriped slacks and a plain starched white shirt and dresses himself.  sitting on the bed elias slides twice resoled shoes onto his feet and ties the laces.  he stands and walks out of the bedroom down the hallway past the bathroom past the kitchen and into the living room and through the living room to the foyer.  he takes his overcoat off the coat rack.  the coat is a light tan with sleeves a little too long.  he ties the belt of the coat around his slim waist and reaches for his navy colored bowler.

* * *

a young elias stood at the bar with his left hand coolly tucked in the pocket of his pinstripe slacks the first purchase with his first paycheck at the office.  a brand new bowler the second purchase with the same paycheck rested on his head.  he leaned with his back to the bar his right arm resting on its oaken surface his right hand coolly cupping a shot of ginjinha.  he laughed vacantly at a joke told by a coworker who had joined him but his eyes rested firmly on the countenance of the Woman he had noticed on previous visits to the establishment the Woman he kept convincing himself he would approach one day but never that day.  She glanced up and caught his firmly resting eyes causing elias to quickly tear them away quite unceremoniously and return his full attention to the coworker sloshing his way through another joke.

elias’ nervous fingers drummed the oak and shot glass and he turned his back on the room his back on the beautiful Woman who had caught him trespassing upon Her soft face and began reading the labels of different brands of liquor because he could think of nothing better to do while hoping the beautiful Woman he would never work up the courage to approach would disregard his gaze and go back to Her conversation.

nervousness became sweat and dampened his palms and the small of his back and his heart realized it was quite alive and captive in a cage of bone and cartilage and it banged and slammed against the bars calling for the guard demanding to be released.

elias saw his reflection peeking through the liquor bottles in the mirror behind the bar and noticed the Woman approaching him.  She disappeared behind the whiskey and reappeared on the stool to his left.  he turned to face Her, taking his eyes off of her reflection, hoping praying that She really was on the stool next to him during the half second his eyes traveled and

She was.

     my name is Eva.  i’ve seen you in here before.

nervous fingers continued to drum the oaken counter while his heart kept pace on his ribs.

sometimes i feel as if you are watching me.

she was smiling.

are you ever going to introduce yourself?

young elias stammered found words caught in his throat (an absolute paradox as nothing is actually in his throat not even the words he knows not how to say) noticed his co-worker had abandoned him and answered

i supposed i shall introduce myself now.  my name is elias.

at the risk of redundancy and playing to the reader hoping for romance, she was beautiful, far more up close on the stool next to elias than he could have imagined when he would stare at her through clouds of smoke and dim lighting that plague most establishments that make their money selling alcohol.  or maybe she was exactly as beautiful as he had imagined he was slightly drunk on liquor and very drunk on nerves – we cannot blame him for leaving this bit unclear.

her fingers were bare, her dress a soft cream, her lips red but not too red and her eyes

were looking at his.

     i like your hat

she said.

it’s quite handsome on you.

she was still smiling.

* * *

navy bowler on his head, elias bends slowly to pick up his briefcase aching and worn and so loyal.  he opens the door to the small home steps outside the small home closes the door and locks it.  he walks cobblestone roads to the bus stop and sits patiently on a wooden bench.  his briefcase rests at his feet while he sits on the wooden bench at the stop and rests his hands in his lap with his right hand resting upon his left hand.

the ride is not long enough to be unpleasant.

elias steps off the bus tips his hat to the driver waits for the bus to depart tightens his grip on his briefcase crosses the road walks through the door to his office building and approaches the elevator.

the doors of the elevator are large and cold.  a gentle hand touches a button to summon the elevator car.  elias again waits patiently hears the hum of the descending elevator (another paradox) hears the ding associated with opening elevator doors and enters.

he is the only person in the car.

he presses the number for his floor.  the doors of the elevator close.  he sees himself in the reflection of the elevator doors and the dim lighting of the car. he sighs a gentle sigh and sets his briefcase to the floor.  he touches the ring finger on his left hand with his right hand and misses his wife.

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