He sat alone in the coffee shop by the window. Cold grey sleet made a ticky ticky sound on the glass before it turned to water and ran like tears down the pane. Loosely he held the hot cup in his hand–the warmth felt good against his cold fingers. It had been a long miserable drive from the funeral parlor in the town he used to live in. His mother had died on a Sunday so at least the traffic wasn’t too bad. It’s almost like she planned it that way, he thought. She never wanted to inconvenience him. She never quite understood that he wanted to help, he wanted to be there for her, even though he had taken a job a couple of hours away. She’d mind the rain, though. She’d worry about him having to drive through the stormy streets at dusk. He took a sip of coffee and grimaced at the bitterness. There’s nobody to worry about me now, he thought. He wasn’t sure at this moment if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Ugh, this rain,” the waitress said as she poured more coffee into his mug.
“I don’t mind it,” he said, not looking up. “It’s actually perfect for my mood.”
“Bad day?” she asked.
He glanced up at her. She had a kindly face with smile crinkles at the corners of her eyes.
“You could say that,” he said. He didn’t want to burden her with his troubles, even though the pull to unload his sad story was strong. He looked back out the window. This is actually perfect weather, he thought. It would be so wrong for it to be sunny. I don’t think I could stand it if it were sunny.
She went into the diner kitchen and came back with a piece of pie and sat it down in front of him.
“I didn’t order this,” he said.
“Oh, someone in here thought you might need a piece of pie. It’s Dutch Apple and I heated it up just a bit. You’ll like it.”
He looked around the small restaurant. There was a college age kid typing away on a computer off in one corner. An older man sat at the counter, chewing on a hamburger. A middle aged couple sat two tables over, talking in hushed tones over dirty plates.
“Thank you for the pie,” he said loudly. None of them glanced over at him. “I said, thank you for the pie,” he said, even louder. The couple glanced over at him and then at each other and then kept talking. He stood up.
“THANK YOU FOR THE GODDAMN PIE!” There were tears on his cheeks. Why were there tears on his cheeks?
“Oh God,” he said. “My mother’s dead. My mother’s dead. I think it finally just hit me. I’m so sorry. I’m being an ass. I have to go.” He fumbled to put on his coat. The waitress put a hand on his arm.
“Don’t go,” she said quietly. “Sit down and eat the pie. It came from me. I wanted to help you feel better. Please sit down and eat the pie.”
He sat down and wiped at his cheeks.
“I almost forgot the most important part!” she said. “I’ll be right back! Don’t move!”
She picked up the plate and went into the kitchen and back again a minute later. “Vanilla ice cream on top. Now that’s the ticket. It’s almost impossible to be sad when eating ice cream.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“You didn’t say that NEARLY loud enough this time,” she said and winked. He laughed and took his fork and made sure he had equal portions of pie and ice cream on it, before raising it to his mouth. His mother had loved ice cream on pie too. They’d laugh together over her large mound of ice cream on a small piece of pie. “Is there pie somewhere on that plate, or is it just a huge scoop of ice cream?” he’d tease. “Gotta get my calcium,” she’d say right back. Eating this pie and ice cream was like getting a hug from her. And maybe that was the point. Maybe he was meant to be here, with the sleeting rain outside, eating ice cream and thinking about the good memories with her. He took another bite.
“Thank you mom,” he thought.