Walking down the streets of Manhattan, the falling leaves were the same as four years ago—you were still a stranger, then. It used to be clear skies after a cold front. It used to be the sun filtering through red and orange leaves. It used to be warmth wafting from a cup of fresh coffee. It’s hard to believe my favorite season was autumn— the sting of the chill leaves me sick nowadays.
I walk into the coffee shop, and your reminders sucker-punch me in the gut. I drown in the coffee. I can’t breathe. The bitter scent latches onto my clothes. It took a year to remove from the apartment. And yet. And yet. The bitterness clings. And it clings. And it clings.
The barista is someone I don’t recognize, and our usual is on the tip of my tongue. I order an Earl Grey, telling myself I’m trying something new. It wouldn’t be the first time. I’m not quite sure I like the taste of bergamot. Sour. Different. Then again, that’s the point, isn’t it? Even if I ordered coffee, it wouldn’t be the same. It was bitter again.
Stepping out, the November wind slaps my face. My coat does nothing to stop the bitter cold from seeping into my bones. It’s still warmer than what I now call home—that’s what happens when home leaves you. I continue walking. I never expected this to be what was left in your wake. I always said I would’ve walked through hell for you, but who knew hell would be so cold?