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April 30, 2018

Zealous Nighthawks

'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper
Fiction: Zealous Nighthawks

She enters the cafe and sits down at her usual spot at the bar and orders black coffee. She runs a hand over her lap to smooth out her dress the color of her red hair. She used to be a blonde until someone told her she looked cheap. She often wonders why she tries to change herself when nothing really could change her. During the day, she often thought herself as rather awkward and graceless but the nights are different. Just after 2 a.m., she would walk the few blocks to the cafe. It has become a habit. A bad habit, she sometimes thinks. She picks out a match and flicks it against the side of the box and lights his cigarette. She takes in the scent. They had agreed not to bother with names but she sometimes wishes she had not brought up the idea. Now and then, when she looks into his eyes, a wild thought would come to her – what if he would snuffs out his cigarette, takes her hands and begs her to run away with him? But the though always fades away just like everything else. She knows she can never belong to him, never during the day. But the nights – they all belong to her. Nights like these always belong to her. Tonight as she ponders at the matchbox in her hand, she wishes this night will never end.

He tries not to look at her too often. She is a nighttime beauty in red, someone he could never have in his life. Not when his wife suffers so. Poor dear. He wishes he could fix all her ailments but Mary just keeps on as if she wishes no end to her suffering. Once, someone had remarked that Mary is a martyr and he had almost agreed with them but then he remembered he is Mary's husband. But upon hearing the word, he knew it is quite true. Mary could have someone else or she could have lived a rich life with her family's money. But she had married a poor artist. Why? He is not so sure now sitting beside this redhead that he dare not love. There have been nights he wishes she would love him. And then day comes and he knows even if she does love him, he could not love her back. Not as long as Mary lives and she means to live a long life. He sucks on his cigarette and breathes in. As he releases a breath, he almost wishes he would just wink out of the living. But the night opens up as if the world is growing. When daylight comes, he will cease to enjoy this nighthawk existence.

closeup of 'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper
He is just like them but he refuses to admit it. He knows them as his regular customers and that is all. They're not his business but he sometimes thinks he knows too much about them to think of them as strangers. He suspects, although they know his name and face, they would hardly care to think of him. But he likes it that way. He doesn't want to get entangled in their lives. He have too much vexing him to care about other people's problems. But they have always come, one after another – the woman who always show up in red, the man in the hat who only takes a drag of his cigarette and never finishes it, and the man who puts too much sugar into his coffee and then reorders a fresh cup. Now and then, he thought he felt sympathy for them but the feeling dissipates as the night wears on. The night always wears on. It's during these hours that he can rejoice in not having any memories or thoughts of home. He can be a smudge of existence and not care. He can serve cup after cup of coffee and not wonder what was and what should have been and nothing more. He is one of them – a nighthawk. But he refuses to admit it.

a to z challenge 2018
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