John stood half-obscured by a column, pacing a step or two back and forth so that, he thought, it wouldn't seem so obvious he was watching the coffee cart. The crisp spring morning was slowly warming, and the trees surrounding the train station glowed as the low-angle sun backlit their young leaves with living green radiance. John glanced at his watch, then at the cart again, and wondered where his Coffee Gal could be.
Nearly every day for nearly a year, John had watched the Coffee Gal. A new job had forced a change in his daily commute, and he'd begun taking the train to the city each morning. There, on the platform waiting, like him, for the 7:35 Express, was a young womanfair, delicate, and achingly lovely with vanilla skin, emerald eyes, and tumbling ringlets of red hair falling about her sleek neck. Sometimes she read a paperback, or a newspaper, or a magazine, but always she got a coffee from the vendor cart tucked under the eaves of the ticket booth.
A tall paper cup with an abstract coffee bean design inked on the side like Chinese calligraphy. A brown cardboard band as a heat shield for her slender fingers. In cold weather, a fog of steam would rise to her face like a dream. She would purse her lips, like ripe swollen fruit, into a tiny O and blow ripples over the circle of dark liquid before each taste. In summer, she'd get a clear plastic cup packed with ice and some frothy tan nectar and leave a signature of lipstick on the straw with each exquisite kiss of a sip. In every season, in any weather, John would pretend-pace by his territorial column and watch for his Coffee Gal.