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  • Writer's pictureLinda Nygard


The woman took a deep drag off of her cigarette. Red stained the filter, leaving an imprint from the crimson lipstick that she wore. Deep red contrasted with her pale white skin and jet-black hair. She was a contrast of solid black, white, and red. My favorite combination of colors adorned her. If we were in the 90’s she would have been considered Goth. But here we were in the 80’s, during the Punk era. Right smack dab in the thick of it.

Exhaling the thick smoke, she tipped the coffee mug to those ruby lips, leaving another stain on the cups’ rim.

I took a sip of my coffee and followed with a hit of my Marlboro. “The most perfect combination.” I began, smoke oozing out with the words. “Coffee, chocolate and cigarettes.” My belief that could live the rest of my days on those three C’s.

My wedge of dark fudge cake was reflected on the window. The words “Toy Boat” were reversed in the glass looking out to the dark street beyond. An Affogato floated creamy gelato in dark expresso.

She stood all of five feet tall, with heels. Her pointy boots lead a petite fragility. The frailty only masked her true strength. Truly the woman was tough, strong, and cool.

A New York accent punctuated words of poetry and verse, mesmerizing this listener; an audience of one, captivated and hanging on her every word.

Indulging me with her time we spoke of Patti Smith, Anais Nin and Jim Carroll. Smoking cigarettes and sipping the dark brew of caffeine until the wee hours of the night was intoxicating. Evenings were permeated by the scent of her perfume mixed with the flavor of Violet Mint candy.

Smoke from cigarettes were not considered offensive in those days. Sitting in a tobacco cloud we sipped and talked, entertaining each other with poetic words dipped in intellectual chatter. For me, heaven was a table outfitted with an ashtray, ready for coffee and my poet’s pen. My secure place submerged in fantasy and rhyme. Moments like this were more than sublime.

Taking pen to page, I tell the tale of lost chances and unrequited crush. Its’ images floating up off of the page; aromas wafting in the air. Almost as real as it can be.

My last punctuation has made its’ mark, as I lift my head and get ready to leave my gaze is captured by a lonely cup, its’ rim stained with red.

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