For Micah

Café d'hivers - Winter's coffee by Alarig

Café d’hivers – Winter’s coffee by Alarig

Micah tightened his scarf. The Mediterranean wind chill rendered it almost useless. He tugged again at the zipper on his jacket. It was up as far as it would go. The scent of hot coffee from a sidewalk café beckoned to him like siren song. He pictured a logjam of customers clambering to escape from the cold, but when he arrived, there was only one, a young girl reading alone at a corner table.

“Sjediti bilo gdje,” said a waiter cleaning one of the tables. He gestured with his hand before disappearing inside the café.

Micah stood frozen now by indecision. Which table he chose suddenly mattered. If he sat alone, would she be offended? If he sat at her table, would she think he was rude? He couldn’t find the nerve to say anything and he began fidgeting nervously.

The girl looked up at him from her book and closed it. She was plain, with a friendly face that calmed his nerves as she studied him up and down. “Are you American?” she finally asked.

Micah nodded sheepishly. It was a relief to hear familiar English.

“He said you could sit anywhere,” she smiled.

He nudged his way shyly toward her table and sat across from her. The awkwardness of the moment made it impossible to speak.

“Annie,” the girl said. Her coat moved as if it was alive.

“I’m sorry,” he shook his head. “I’m Micah.” He extended a gloved hand. Thin fingers, blue from the cold, reached out to take it.

“You don’t see many Americans in Buje, Micah. Do you have family here?” Annie’s coat moved again.

“No, I’m here on kind of a project. It might sound weird, but it’s research… for a book.

“Are you a writer?”

Micah nodded reflectively. Being a writer didn’t necessarily mean being published.

“How exciting!” This time she squirmed when her coat moved and it now had Micah’s complete attention, trapped between terrible curiosity and the discomfort of staring at her chest.

“I guess. Do you have family here?” he asked, changing the subject quickly before it could turn to what he’d written.

“I do now,” she giggled.

It was a confusing answer. She couldn’t mean him, they’d just met, but the thought made him blush. Annie’s coat moved again and this time, she unfastened the top of it, and a tiny kitten poked its head out.

“I found it in a garbage heap,” she said sadly.

“And you kept it? It could have diseases!”

Annie made kissing lips at the kitten’s face and spoke to it in baby talk. “You don’t have any diseases, do you? You’re so adorable… Isn’t she adorable?” She looked up at Micah for approval.

“Most kittens are,” he agreed. The waiter returned and Micah pointed at Annie’s cup. “Kava,” he said. “Molimo.”

“Dobro,” said the waiter with a sideways glance at the kitten protruding from Annie’s coat. He marked the coffee on his ticket and disappeared again.

“Does she have a name?” Micah asked.

“Not yet. I’m not really sure she’s a girl. She’s too young to tell the sex yet really.” The kitten mewed. “I think she’s a girl though. She doesn’t have any…”

Micah’s eyes darted nervously away when she looked at him, making yer laugh.

“…you know, man-parts,” she finished coyly. “And besides, I can’t keep her anyway.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t take her on the plane. I already checked. If I’d flown her in, I could fly her back, but the airline won’t allow it because she’s… indigenous.” She enunciated the word in a growl. “You know, it’s like you said. She could have diseases or something.”

“What are you going to do with her?”

“Throw her away. Duh! That’s what you do with kittens.”

Micah’s mouth dropped open.

Annie burst out laughing. “I’m just kidding, silly. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess I have five days to figure it out.” Her voice turned suddenly sad, and her eyes flicked to make contact with his at the words five days.

The waiter returned with Micah’s coffee and a small saucer he set on the table in front of Annie. She looked up at him confused. “Mlijeko,” he said with a wink, nodding toward the kitten. She started to say something and he put a finger to his lips. “Shoosh, shoosh!”

After he’d gone, Micah watched as Annie fumbled around in her purse, eventually producing an eyedropper. She sucked up some of the milk and then put the eyedropper into her own mouth and held it there. Micah tried not to smile. She looked a little ridiculous, and especially so when she asked him, What?! with her eyes.

“You’re leaving in five days?” he asked.

She nodded. After a moment, she pulled the eyedropper from her mouth, and moved it to the kitten’s. “It has to be body temperature or she won’t drink it,” she said.

Micah took a sip of his coffee and swallowed hard. It was a lot of responsibility. “I could take her,” he stammered.

Annie looked at him reproachfully as if he’d threatened to steal her baby, but her face softened and she continued to stare quietly, making him more and more uncomfortable the longer she stared. When the kitten had finished the milk, she refilled the eyedropper, and handed it his direction. “You want to try feeding her?”

Micah nodded involuntarily, but he could only blink reluctantly at the dropper.

“Come on. I don’t have any diseases either,” she scolded.

Fear grabbed hold of him the way it does when you first get to the end of a diving board. Sometimes you just take the plunge. Trying hard not to think, he took the eyedropper and put it into his own mouth to warm it. At first he couldn’t look Annie in the eyes.

“Except for herpes,” she stated calmly. “I have herpes, but it’s just a mild case.”

Micah glared at her and she smiled. She scooted her chair around to his side of the table while the milk warmed. Tentatively, he took the dropper out and gave it to the kitten the way she had done. Milk squeezed out too fast, dribbling from the kitten’s chin into Annie’s open coat and down her chest, pulling his eyes with it before he realized and jerked them quickly back to the kitten.

“You’ll make a good daddy,” Annie said softly.

Micah’s heart raced. The warmth of her breath, so close to his ear, flushed his body with adrenaline and his ears were suddenly ringing. He couldn’t even hear the words she said next, and all he could do was stare numbly at the lips that spoke them.

Annie reached over and fumbled with his scarf, finding his zipper underneath and pulling it down. The excitement was too much for him and he began to tremble a little, thankful he could blame it on the cold. She pulled the kitten from her coat and tucked it safely into his. Then she leaned forward slowly, lips puckering for a kiss. Micah closed his eyes.

“Good luck, little girl,” Annie kissed the cat. She finished the last sip of her coffee, fumbled through her purse, and tucked a few bills under the empty cup before standing and pulling on her gloves. “Thank you so much,” she said to Micah, and she turned and walked from the table.

“Annie, wait! Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, we swapped spit didn’t we?” she laughed.

Micah ignored the inaccuracy. “What were you doing in a garbage heap?”

Annie smiled mysteriously. “Studying it,” she answered. “You can learn a lot about people from their garbage, you know.” She started away and stopped. “It might sound weird, but it’s for a story I’m writing.”

“You’re a writer too?”

Annie didn’t answer this time. Being a writer didn’t necessarily mean being published.

Micah watched her walk away and turned his eyes down to the innocent little ball of fur tucked inside his jacket. The eyedropper twirled aimlessly about in his fingers. His mind flashed back to ten minutes before, when Annie and the kitten were the last things he’d ever have imagined.

“I guess I have to find you a name,” he said.

© 2012 Anne Schilde

About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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25 Responses to For Micah

  1. Well, that wasn’t exactly how I would act but it was surprisingly close, there are a few things I wouldn’t have done but over all Micah was…Well, me. Good story, I liked it.

  2. II says:

    All caught up!

  3. Ermilia says:

    Ooo, I like Micah. Write more about him!

    – Ermisenda

    • Anne Schilde says:

      It was just a one-off I wrote for Micah over at SomethingsOnTheSide… formerly A Writer’s Strange Life. I created a writing challenge for him to use this setting and the three words, garbage, logjam, and sex, in a story. He declined, so I took the challenge myself.

  4. Tanitha Smith says:

    Awww, that was lovely! The kitten was adorable and unexpected. What was a respectable young lady like Annie doing in the garbage? 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Studying it! I mean, that’s how archaeologists learned about Early Man, right? Haha, and it could be very respectable garbage, couldn’t it? The kitten came from my requirement to use the word sex, and so it was the point of the story from the beginning. I’m really glad I was able to make it a surprise!

  5. Dear Annie,

    I loved this story. It was sensual, enticing, spirited, teasing ,and I wanted it to go on, and I wanted more. I also read and left a note on Micah’s story ( after enjoying eavesdropping there between the two of you.

    Micah needed to run after you.. I’m disappointed in him. i hope he does in an update. I would have run after you. I was excited; your story did it to me…I could smell you and taste you and want you and you did a wonderful job placing yourself in a male’s pants, er, I mean pants of view, no, point of view. I loved your zipping og fis jacket (see how you got me all kerplosked just writing about it!). You did great!

    big 😉


    • Anne Schilde says:

      I think you’re the first guy I’ve ever kerplosked, Randy. Haha, I’m pretty sure that zipper only got me into his jacket!

      I’m really tickled to hear the story had this effect. I imagined both characters being innocent, but that the setting itself would make the moment intimate and romantic in a natural kind of way and I wanted to capture that.

      This story ends here, but if you want to imagine more, Micah could leave the café and the waiter could call him back and tell him in Croatian, “I think this is for you.” and hand him something she left under the bills (I’ve done that before)… or Buje is a VERY small town and you could easily imagine them meeting again by chance… or it could be one of those things like in the spy stories where two Americans in the same Croatian café couldn’t possibly be a coincidence, and she already knows everything about him…

      I can’t see your comment on Micah’s story.

      • Annie,

        I smiled all the way through your third paragraph about different endings… i loved them and they fulfilled my needs to have more… although i would still read more if you wrote them.. and yes, your words were “intimate and romantic in a natural kind of way and.I wanted to capture that”, and you most certainly did and my adjectives are more pressured and empowered as that’s what your words also did to me…

        I’m not sure what happened with my comments on SomethingsOnTheSide. I’m not sure if i missed sending it or if it’s in moderation. I felt like I was eavesdropping between the two of you, and I was enjoying it (a guilty pleasure but what the heck – it was a public conversation) and offered some words of, what I hoped was, encouragement to Micah after he seemed a little “humbled” by your feedback.


  6. I really truly do enjoy your stories.

  7. Kelly says:

    Poorly titled… formica is known as Fool’s Gold, whereas what you’ve got here is clearly the real stuff.

    Love you and your words!

  8. yerpirate says:

    Yes, I like Micah too, and you caught her culturally very well, between the kitten and her actions. But I agree with the comment earlier, you caught him, as a man, very, very well, which is more than rare for a storyteller who isn’t.
    I thought the zipper was clever, almost a tease. Pity they melted away from each other!

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I was really teasing him from the moment I said, “sit anywhere”. Guys are funny when you tease them. 🙂 I’m curious what I captured well. It might have been serendipitous.

      • yerpirate says: already showed the ‘feel’ you have for the ‘male’! His awkwardness was very well portrayed, as well as his speech patterns, and the easy way he became accomodating about the cat. You also portrayed his honest uncomfortableness when glancing at her breasts – which in this situation in the male mind are seen as beauty, not desire,
        Its a skill,I think, to be able to relate to both characters in this way,not one over the other.

      • Anne Schilde says:

        LOL Yeah, guess I intended all of that. I wrote a very deliberate character. Most guys wouldn’t have let me walk away.

      • yerpirate says:

        He didn’t. He kept the kitten. That will pull you back.

      • Anne Schilde says:

        You got me. There is something I like about a man who takes care of my kitten. 😉

      • yerpirate says:

        Oh he knew, he knew…watching how you cared for it,and since you pulled the zipper move he knows that’s your style there.

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