Like Smoke

He hurried into the dim, cold lounge. His collared-shirt and pantsuit were pressed and his tie was tight around his neck. With reddened eyes he looked at the coffee dispenser and rubbed his wrinkled cheek and greying hair. He placed the paper cup into the machine and the door opened behind him. A smoky aroma entered the room.

He widened his eyes, and was transported to a bright, humid place. His hair was now long and dark, his face, youthful and his shirt, baggy. He had a chocolate smear on his shoulder and grass stains on his threadbare jeans. The backyard where he stood had a pool and was surrounded by kept landscaping. There was a rumble of an air-conditioner and a mumbling, old man around the patio corner.

The old man had knobby knees, and sagging skin, but it was his mustache that defined him. Grand and grey, its waxed tips extended past his lips and shook in the breeze.  He worked a long poll with a contraption on the opposite end that trimmed the treetops. Every so often he placed it aside and took a puff of his smoking pipe. He held the dark wood idly in his lips or in his hand between sizing the next branch to prune. The translucent vapor twisted in the wind and swept past the child.

That was the smell. It was his grandfather’s pipe.

The coffee machine chimed and his cup was brewed. He reached for it after his eyes readjusted to the dim lighting, and the sweat from his brow had cooled. Now, a little less rushed, returned to work.