He counts the coins out onto the countertop and he has enough because yesterday he smoked one ciggie less so he won’t have to buy until tomorrow, and the girl slides his money into her palm, tinkles it into the till, and tells him two minutes, and his mouth drools thinking of the bitterness, creaminess, the residue of chocolatey froth that he will lick up with one finger inserting his whole digit into his mouth, tipping the polystyrene to his lips, tapping on the base, sucking down every bloody last gorgeous drop.

He reaches out with shaky hands for the cup and the girl takes in the frayed filthy cuffs of his hoodie as ducking his head he shambles away to pause at the intersection, and the lights flickering red to green and the crush of commuters crowding his elbows as he crosses to the corner, the corner with the woman with the kid, the woman selling the magazine that keeps her alive, her eyes on his precious cargo and her longing stopping him in his tracks and his one millisecond of regret before he wordlessly offers up his cappuccino.

K. W. George is a writer based in Brisbane, and her short short story was the winner of the 2018 Brisbane Writers’ Festival Micro-Fiction Competition. She has a master’s degree in Australian Gothic Literature from QUT, and has been published in a number of literary journals including Meanjin, Verity La, Award Winning Australian Writing and Margaret River Press anthologies.

Photo by V.L.F on flickr.