Mrs McClusky’s Café

The café by the side of the small road was made of wood, with a veranda and a sign which simply said “Mrs McClusky’s Café. The wood was weathered grey overlapping boards, some of which had seen better days and a menu board at an angle hung on a nail with smudged, unreadable chalk. Up the steps of the veranda, minding the handrail which wobbled well, the glass-fronted door lead into a bright interior. Floodlit through the further windows through which the sparkles of a lake threw wonderful movement into the room and rushes danced in a line afore the water.

 There were a few tables scattered about with colapsable picnic chairs of wood and metal and a bar, behind which Mrs McClusky stood one hand on her hip, the other holding a small pad and a pencil while a bubbling tea urn spluttered to the side. She was tall, dark hair tied in a ponytail and cared for eyebrows. Those and the pink sweater she was wearing, as well as the nonchalant way she had tied a further pink cardigan around her waist, and the smile she had gave me the idea that she was not just any old café owner, but a woman of imagination and friendliness.

I asked for a cup of tea and a tea cake, paid my money and found a table where I could both look out of the windows onto the lake as well as taking in the interior of the café. Objects hung on the walls, an old wooden hayfork, a sieve, a silage knife. Pictures included one of the Buddha, a print of a young girl holding a bunch of spring flowers and an enormous oil painting of a family standing around a piano, probably painted in the early 20th century. I noticed a likeness in Mrs McClusky to one of the girls at the piano.

 My fellow customers were made up of a couple at a small table near me, a family with 3 young children and a woman sitting by herself reading a book. They all looked as if they had hiked to the café, or at least around the lake. Of course, the woman sitting by herself reading interested me the most for she was wearing a fox fur hat and had a short, pale coloured fur coat draped over a chair. She wore a fur waistcoat and a long black skirt with walking boots. Unusual clothes to hike in, save the boots. I squinted at her book and saw the title was in a foreign alphabet I did not recognise. She was perhaps in her late twenties. Her face was pale, her hands small and elegant with tapering fingers. The whole atmosphere she gave off was one of specialness and mystery. She must have felt my gaze on her for she looked up and I smiled at her, she did not return my smile but shifted in her chair and returned to reading her book.

I looked out of the window and was delighted and amazed at the sunlight on the water, the birds ducking and bobbing and the rushes pushed this way and that by the breeze. My attention was suddenly drawn back into the room when the man of the couple sitting near me sneezed. I reacted and wished him good health, and he and his partner acknowledged me. He had the wide apart brown eyes and high cheek bones of a Slav and a good crop of brown curls. His friend was fair haired and small she sat very straight and moved in quick bursts, taking some food here, a drink there. Generally they talked animatedly. I did not want to intrude into their world, but rather be an observer. I had a feeling that this was a state of mind I often had and I wished at that moment that I was more outspoken, gregarious. I wondered to myself why, what was in my psyche that made me always be the observer. A sort of sadness welled up in me, a feeling of hopelessness so rather than dwell on my feelings I drank some tea and chewed somewhat violently on the tea cake which sadly caused me to splutter and choke slightly so that all conversation in the room stopped and everyone seemed to look at me. I smiled, red faced and took control of the situation shrugging slightly. The buzz of the café started again and I returned to looking out of the window until I felt or rather smelled Mrs McClusky next me. She smiled down at me in a most kind way so that I felt a warm glow calm me and when she asked me if there was anything else I required, I felt myself blushing for surely there was, but it was unspoken and again I was embarrassed. However, she touched my arm and as she did so the café seemed to dissolve, the customers and tables vanish, the sounds turn into bird song as the sun on the water became morning sunlight streaming through my bedroom window and I awoke, rather sadly, from my dream of Mrs McClusky’s café.




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