Con Leche

by Chris Deal

He preferred his coffee midnight black and as far from sweet as he could get, but she made hers con leche and oversaturated with imitation sugar and for five years in a row, every morning he drank what she brewed. Her coffee was the same brown as her skin, and even though he hated the taste, he always sipped it with a grin and never said a word about it to her. She knew where his preferences lay and at first it was her stubborn blood that kept her from giving in. If he ever asked her for his black, she would make it black for him. One day, in the mid months of her time with child, she was too tired to go into work, her legs, ankles aching and swollen, and a weariness had settled over her shoulders like a yoke. He had disturbed her when he got up to get ready for the day but she stayed there, with her hand over her stomach, the slow movements of the life inside her an embodiment of love. The world resembled the time they drove through the mountains early one winter, the fog obscuring everything outside of the two of them.

She lay in the afterglow of her dream, a little girl on the bed beside her, the child's hair, skin dark like her own, but the little girl's eyes were clearly her fathers, like grass with a hint of death, subtle slivers of yellow. She stayed in that moment with her unborn until there came an offense, a bitterness in the air from the kitchen of their little apartment. Standing from their bed, with every sore muscle her anger grew like a seed, sprouting new tendrils of violence throughout her body. Opening the door too hard gave her some slight joy. He was standing over the stove, right where the stench had come from. When he saw her standing there he grew small, a boy caught making a mess by his mother. Walking towards him, she searched for anything to hit him with. Deciding on her bare hands, she looked to see what was making the smell. In a pot on the stove, he had burned the milk to make his coffee con leche, the remains of his attempt a blackened crust on the bottom dotted with the grounds. She swatted him on the back of the head before tossing the pot into the sink, not letting him see the smile that spread over her lips as she went about brewing the morning's coffee.

BIO: Chris Deal writes from Huntersville, North Carolina. His debut collection of short fiction Cienfuegos, was published by Brown Paper Publishing.  You can find him at www.Chris-Deal.com.