Expressions

Company: a short story

By LING LIN
Staff Writer

It is past six, and the sun is already down. The sky is as dark as the pressed fabric of his jacket; the café table shakes slightly as the tip of his pen dances on his paper. An untouched muffin sits at its edge.

He works alone in a corner. People misunderstand him quite often, thinking he wants to go unnoticed. In fact, he finds security working in a public atmosphere, and the fact that most of the shop’s customers have papers and laptops in tow reminds him that he is not the only one suffering. Today there are only a few men here, making him wonder whether he’ll be the only customer left by the time the shop closes at midnight. It is then that a waitress comes and turns on the light. “You are doing work,” she explains when he looks up.

“I mean, I didn’t notice there was a floor lamp next to me.”

“It has always been there.”

He is surprised by its brightness, which makes him remember the snowy mountains under the sun in his hometown. The light gives him a sense of belonging in this café house. The waitress is back at the register; it will be a long night for her as well. At least, together, they may find company with the light.

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