She sat in the window of the café, reading and writing as she had nearly every day for the last 20 years.
“Good morning, Mrs. Marshall. Regular?”
“Yes, my dear. And maybe a cherry pastry. I’m feeling a little sweet today.”
“Oh, you’re always that, Mrs. Marshall.”
“Must be all that sugar I put in my tea,” she laughed. They always had the same joke.
When he returned with her tea and pastry, she said, “Today’s my birthday.”
“Really? Happy Birthday! So, if you don’t mind my asking, how old?”
“90? I thought maybe 75.”
“That old? I’m losing my touch,” she responded with a smile.
“Never that. You look great. My grandma doesn’t look nearly so great and she is 75.”
“Well, thank you, young man, and I promise not to tell your grandmother,” she winked.
He laughed as he walked away, but felt sorry for the old lady, alone on her birthday as she was every other day of the year. He’d never seen her with anyone in all the time he’d worked there. But she always seemed so cheerful. He turned to watch her from the counter. She had fallen asleep. He laughed. Just like his grandma. He went back to work.
After an hour, he went over to check if she needed anything and noticed that she hadn’t touched anything. His heart stopped. He touched her hand. Cold.
“Ricky! Call 911! We have a problem here!” he yelled across the quiet café.