I felt her eyes upon me before I saw her. No more than three feet tall, a blonde ponytail pulled tight from her face, her cheeks wet with tears. The street was still quiet. I was the only customer at the outdoor café. She settled into the chair next to mine. I ordered her a hot chocolate with two marshmallows, just the way she liked it. I knew why she had come. They were fighting again. Mother’s frail body slammed against the kitchen wall. Father with a carving knife threatening to slice open our throats, cut out our hearts. Curled under the kitchen table, I had withdrawn into my imagination, creating future lives where I was grown and safe, sitting in a café much like this one.
I slipped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, our hearts beating as one.
“You can stay as long as you like,” I said.
The waitress set the hot chocolate down in front of me with a kindly smile. Just another old lady talking to herself.
Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. She is the author of “Tender Cuts,” a collection of microfiction from Vine Leaves Press, and “The Daddy Chronicles-Memoir of a Fatherless Daughter,” published by Whiskey Tit Books. She lives in California, but dreams of living in Paris. Website: www.jaynemartin-writer.com Facebook: Jayne Martin-Author. Twitter: @Jayne_Martin