(This is a weird, possibly offensive germ of a story. A first draft with a spell check that seems like it could be something interesting with a little work)
Her hand pushed the weathered screen door, she stepped into the chill of the Caffe Buono coffee shop. The ever present smoky aroma of the coffee roaster in the back, the hushed chatter of the people at the tiny round tables and the clink of cups created the feeling of stepping from one world to the next. In both worlds she felt alone.
She scanned the faces, some of whom looked up as she moved into the new space of noise and smoke and boundaries. Where was he? She was sure it was a he. It sounded like a he on Facebook. There was an older man sitting in the back typing, tight in his world. He would not be the one. Would be extra creepy if he was. Some scholarly kids with laptops, maybe, but not interested in her. Was there someone, this was the appointed time, was there someone, some young man looking at her with interest asking the same question on her mind. Is this the person?
She continued to stand in the door, scanning the tables, the faces, waiting for some unplanned intuition to speak to her. There was nothing for it. It was possible the guy wasn’t even here. Maybe he had decided to off himself without her.
She went to the counter and glanced over the chalkboard listings. A new one "Affogato".
"What’s Affogato?" she asked the counter guy. Could he be the one? He looked too cheerful. But what did that prove?
"Affogato means drowned," he said. "It’s ice cream with a double shot of espresso poured over it."
"I'll have that."
If she found the guy, would be hungry? Would a person like her, under these circumstances be eating a scone? "No scone." It occurred to her that a person even eating a scoop of ice cream might be too cheerful or even celebratory for all this. She handed him her credit card. He swiped it on an iPad and passed it to her and she signed with her finger, a bright curlicue. It reminded her of Fourth of July picnics at night, waving a sparkler through the night, running down fields. She felt a pang. She looked to the door. It wasn't too late to run, just run.
"Thanks," said the counter guy. "We’ll call you."
She stepped away and stood against the wall. She waited. Affogato. That could have been a code word if she'd known there was such a thing. I'll be the one sitting alone eating an Affogato. I'll be the drowned girl.
Drowning seemed like a particular bad way to go. Violent. Your body would fight you, resist the betrayal the mind had imposed on it. Drowning was not the way. What were the logistics of this thing?
Everything had logistics. If you were a thief, the logistic was not breaking in, it was about not getting caught. If you were a hacker, it was about not getting caught. If you were trying to kill yourself it was about not getting caught by your own body, your fear at the last moment. If you jumped off a building and had second thoughts on the way down, it would be too late. How many people had second thoughts after the commencement of seeing it through?
"Affogato." The counter guy was looking at her.
"Drowned," she said. She took the dish.
Drowning wouldn’t cut it, she thought. It doesn't make a statement to those you leave behind. It can be accidental. One does not want to be accidental. This is about you, she would want to say. You broke my heart, you did this.
She found an empty table near a group of boys and just sat. The ice cream did look a little drowned as the hot coffee began to consume it into a frothy cream. The whole business, it was just ungrateful.
"You wouldn't drown yourself would you?" said a bios voice behind her. She turned.
"Facebook?" she said.
"Yeah," he said. He sat down. "I'm -"
"You're not going to tell me your name are you?" she said. "I don't want to know your name."
"Okay," he said.
"Want a bite?" She raised the spoon. "No cooties yet."
He took the spoon and put it in his mouth. He looked kind of cute. Suspiciously cheerful. If he should have been dressed in black like a sulky Hamlet - to be or not to be, maybe not - it would have been more obvious. Nothing about this was obvious. She wondered if even her weariness showed.
"Gonna miss ice cream," he said.
"I don't believe in that shit," she said.
"After life. Regret."
"Oh let's not talk about that shit. How you going to do it?"
"I'm looking for ideas."
"I can't believe you haven't thought about this."
"What about you?"
"I'm thinking of freezing to death. It's like going to sleep. "
"How you going to do that?"
"I know a guy who has a meat locker. Gets about 35 degrees."
"Is that enough?"
"What about a gun?"
"I don't have a gun."
"You can get one. That's what I'm thinking."
"We're doing this together right? That's the deal we said."
"Well what's a good gun? I don't have much money."
"Maybe a little gun is cheaper than a big gun. Maybe a 22?"
The next table over had gone quiet. Chairs turned. Guys leaned in. "Naw,
man. Don't use a 22."
They turned and looked the guys. "You been listening?"
"Twenty two?" said another kid. "That's stupid. That's like using an ice pick on yourself. Shoot yourself in the head, you don’t die, just an impromptu lobotomy."
"Wait, wait," said the girl.
"Hemingway used a shot gun," said another kid. He put the barrel under his chin, and just sort of wrapped his toe around the trigger - BOOM!"
Now people were looking.
"Don't use a 22, not if you're serious. Serious people, shot gun."
"Would you use a shotgun?" said another kid.
"Hell, I'd use a nerf gun."
"What?? Get the fuck out."
"No, man, you get these nerf guns, they look real. You go somewhere, you wave it around, some cop shoots you."
"Fuck, that's sick."
"Well, what isn't?"
"Well, for one thing, it makes you look like an asshole. Threatening people with a gun. Little kids. It makes you look like a total asshole. Get your name on the news, but it's the wrong message. It's not 'you done broke my heart, fuck you Cruel World,' its like ‘Mommy made me nuts and I wanna cry but I got a cop to shoot me cause I’m too chicken shit to off myself.' That makes you a punk. You couldn’t do it.”
“Plus you're wasting your fifteen minutes of fame."
"Fifteen minutes. I like that."
"Warhol said that."
"Who the fuck's Warhol?"
"The guy that's doing your mama! You don't know who the fuck Andy Warhol is? Get the fuck out of here. You’re repugnantly ignorant."
"Warhol is cool," said another kid. "He did Marylyn Monroe. And soup cans and shit."
"A shotgun?” said the girl, “that’s what you're telling me?"
"Course you could end up just blowing your teeth down your throat, like that guy on the show 'Preacher'? That motherfucker is gross."
"No! That clown in American Horror Story! That's what he did! Blew his face off with a shotgun. So he has this mouth mask. That was some fucked up shit."
"Naw man, don't use a shot gun."
"I think we're getting off the subject," said the boy.
"You're not going to freeze to death," said one of the other kids. "Not in high summer in Georgia. But if you did freeze to death when it's a hunnert fucking degrees out there, that would be cool. Now that would a statement."
"Irony," said another kid. It's got irony."
"It does, it does."
"What's wrong with pills?"
She ate her ice cream. Worked the spoon around the bowl. Feeling the boy’s eyes on her she put her tongue out. She had a long tongue and licked the edge of the bowl. Then the inside of the bowl. With their eyes on her she licked the spoon, long and slow. She worked that spoon.
Their eyes were on her. All their eyes.
“You got talent,” a boy sighed. “Don’t waste that talent you got.”
She set the bowl down and stood up, looking towards the door.
She turned and all the boys were looking at her. "Feel better now?" said one.
And then she knew. She did. It was out of her system. It had been a dumb idea.
"I know what I'm going to do now," she said. "I'm going into show business. If I'm going to die on stage I want to get paid for it."
She walked away without looking back.
Outside, the heat and the sunshine felt beautiful.