The New York Loft
By Madeline Silton
I watched as his fingers moved in practiced precision. The way he made coffee was methodical and robotic. He boiled water on the stove in a kettle, ground the coffee in a hand-held coffee grinder, then poured it into the french press and sat on the stool across from the counter and watched it steep for four minutes. Then he’d press down on the top with the palm of his hand and pour it into the same to-go mug he used every day.
I usually watched from the bed that was across from the kitchen, swathed in his various colored blankets -- frozen because he had no heating and there was no insulation in the loft.
He never looked at me when he made coffee. I was always a heavy sleeper but he was so loud -- a purposeful cacophony of noise -- but enough to wake any sleeper unless they really slept like a dead man.
He turned around and saw my wide and wandering eyes tracking him across the small space. He absorbed every inch of my vision -- his 6’3 frame appearing sideways as I was laying in bed. He looked so perfect from my vantage point -- his skin brown like terra cotta pottery -- his eyes dark brown orbs that had that alluring sharp and suspicious glare to them.
It was so early but I wanted to watch him leave. I made my subconscious mind promise me to wake up earlier than him today so I could watch him get out of bed, get dressed, and then this. The way he made his coffee.
“I left you a cup,” he said, pointing at the half-filled french press on the counter.
“Thank you.” He didn't like this word. I think because he didn’t like me to think he ever did anything nice for me. Leaving me the coffee was out of convenience for him because then I had to clean it up.
He squinted, then set the coffee down and came over to the bed to kiss me goodbye.
“I’ll still be here tonight,” I inserted into the space between us, “my flights tomorrow.” I worked in London, which was so far from here. But work took me back and forth regularly and I always stayed here.
“Okay,” he said, then he cupped my face in his hand and kissed me directly on my lips. “See you tonight.”
Then he got up and left.
Later, with hands wrapped around cigarettes and blankets wrapped around our shoulders we watched the street below us. Five stories down. Our breath turned to crystals in the air. I wanted to ask him about law and policy and I wanted him to ask me about film and writing.
“How was your day?”
He gave me that look. The one that hooked me that autumn day in my senior year of high school. The way he sat by me and nudged me when he thought something was funny or scolded me with his dark eyes when he thought I said something stupid.
“Good.” He inhaled his cigarette and then outstretched his hand over the fire escape, letting the cigarette fall to the people below.
It was dark, but nothing was ever dark. I could see the people below and how the cigarette wouldn’t make it to any of them.
He crawled back into the living room and into bed and let the blankets consume him. Then he drifted off into a sleep that danced dangerously close to death. I crawled next to him, wrapping my arms around his body and absorbing his warmth. He was so much larger than me and I always felt so tiny next to him -- like my 5’1 frame would crumble to pieces like a stale cookie.
“I’m leaving tomorrow,” I want to tell him, so he would acknowledge my impending absence. But he already knew. It was always like that.
The next morning, closing the door behind him, I wondered if he’d miss my warmth or my crystallized breath on his fire escape. I dragged my suitcase behind me.
I promised myself I wouldn’t come to visit him when I came back but I knew I was lying to myself.
Madeline is an 18 year old writer, runner, and adventurer. You can usually find her sipping coffee and reading a book.