Story

Before The Coffee Goes Cold

"Do you think we have enough time in our lives to have one last meaningful moment with the ones we love?" You ask. The figure behind the door pushes out its claws and you sense it grin. You can't see it but you know it is there, waiting.

Part 1

You have lived in different houses in different cities and none of them welcomed you; the walls imprisoned you inside a circus of pretence and it smelled of loneliness. Your mother would glare at you from the other room, watch you make mistakes, and curse your existence. Your father remained oblivious and wished that everyone would just listen to him. 

When you first entered this flat, it felt like it wouldn’t villainise you for being you. When you enter this flat now, it is the only sense of comfort you have. You go straight to the kitchen to pour yourself some water, but you plop down on the floor before you can even pick up the glass. The kitchen tiles swirl out of focus and make you dizzy. You feel a wave of nausea hit you and your brain tries to tell you that it was just a dream. 

“Are you okay?” You hear a voice that is warmly familiar and pulls you out of your spiral.

You look up to find Bilal standing at the kitchen entrance, furrowing his brows to check if you are hungover, depressed or just tired. You wonder how to tell him that the reason you are on the floor with your legs curled up tightly against your chest is a possibility that you did not hallucinate what just happened – that you probably only have one more day to live. 

You manage to mutter a ‘yes’. Just sleep-deprived. You try to focus your eyes but you see shadows moving in the periphery. 

You offer to make coffee for the two of you. Both of you stay silent until the coffee cups are filled.

Bilal places his cup on the kitchen counter slab and you think about how he is never going to drink it in time. You think about how that cup will stay there until you have to do the dishes, until tomorrow. That’s when the pang hits. It starts at your chest and then your eyes burn. You feel tears flood the corners of your face, you hear a sigh, and you feel a hand on your shoulders. Until tomorrow; the word doesn’t sit right with you anymore. 

You look at Bilal, the idiot who helped you throw your first dinner party and made you understand what home should feel like. It is in his room you first discovered the courage to wear clothes you actually liked. He told you that your gender could look like anything you wanted. It was revolutionary for a queer person in her early 20s, living in a world that asked her to hide more of herself. 

You think of all the people you won’t get to say goodbye to, if today is indeed your last day. The cold morning chill of the autumn air makes you shudder and the heaviness of being awfully aware of the lack of time feels like a punch in the gut. You curse Death for not taking you right then and there.

“I sense a weird energy around you.” You remember Bilal’s impeccable intuition. You ask him what kind and he tells you that something is waiting to snatch you away. Then, he tells you that you are lost. 

Your eyes find the dark corner behind the door, you think you see the shadow moving; you almost see a figure crouching, ready to pounce. 

He asks what is wrong and you tell him that you are just sad. You tell him it will pass. He doesn’t push you to talk, he just stays with you for comfort.

As your time runs out, your mind forces you to think of 3 people you absolutely need to meet. One of them is sitting on the floor with you, the other two are in different parts of the city and far away from your life.  

“Do you think we have enough time in our lives to have one last meaningful moment with the ones we love?”  You ask. The figure behind the door pushes out its claws and you sense it grin. You can’t see it but you know it is there, waiting. 

“I think no matter how much time we have, we will feel it’s never enough.” 

You agree. You remember the time when you didn’t have anyone in your life who made you painfully aware of mortality. Earlier, mortality used to be a sweet thing, a reminder that the hurt could end any minute you wished. But then, you met people who gave you reasons to live; the hurt didn’t stop but they made it bearable. So, leaving would mean never seeing them again and that would hurt more. 

You want to tell him that you’re grateful for his existence before this tender moment ebbs into nothingness. But you don’t find the right words, they fall short in the face of truth. Instead, you ask him to help you pick out an outfit. An outfit that you would wear on your last day walking on Earth. 

As you both rummage through your cupboards for sleazy tops and printed shirts, he quips in with his philosophical thoughts and your heart warms up. You tell him that his coffee must have gone cold and you laugh. It’s the first time you laughed that day and the morning light has filled the room. The shadows keep a watch on you, but you tell them that you have one day left. 

This story was about: Gender identity + Expression Sexuality

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Athira (she/they) is a writer, editor and photographer based in Delhi. Their work is a form of storytelling, exploring themes of queerness, dilemmas of the current human condition, and the force of transformation.
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Athira Raj

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