Parking outside the dilapidated building in the middle of nowhere I was a little apprehensive; but the thought of anything warm to eat and a well needed toilet break managed to override my worries. A tacky red and white sign shrieked as the wind aggressively battered it against the wall. Once inside the combination of heavy, dated curtains; mismatched seats and 70s kaleidoscopic carpet instantly told me what kind of experience I was about to have. On my table, bunches of sticky menus were stuffed into their wooden holders; threatening to topple over from the excess weight. A metal cutlery pot held an odd number of utensils -and half an old crayon- and the staff, well they looked like the combined spawn of the entire cast of the League of Gentlemen.
From the surprised expressions and the sudden buzz of activity, I could tell they didn’t get many new customers, in fact, considering the location I assumed they didn’t have much regular custom at all. But the sight of an elderly woman seated alone by the window proved me wrong. Her hair was white and wispy, like a delicate puff of smoke; the delicate frame of her glasses rested on the tip of her tiny nose and her clouded green eyes seemed to hold cherished memories of the years that had had passed. With her crêpe hands planted firmly on the table she slowly eased herself up, trembling as she rose. Once steadied she huffed to herself in relief before curving her thin lips into a triumphant smile. She edged out awkwardly from her seat revealing her brown pleated skirt, secured just under her bust and a pair of thick tan tights which were beginning to bunch at the ankles. As she passed me she gave a nod to a member of staff who rushed to open the door for her, they loudly wished her well and with that she was gone.
Mildly refreshed I tucked a crisp note under my saucer, grabbed the strap of my bag and gulped down the last dregs of coffee; I was about to leave when something caught my eye. Bunched on the floor beneath the elderly woman’s seat was her thick knitted cardigan. I picked it up, releasing a cloud of grandma-esque perfume and the oversized plastic buttons clacked against each other as I fumbled to hold it the right way up. It was heavier than I had expected and I wondered how her frail frame didn’t crack under the weight. Noting the lack of staff I draped it over the back of her chair and headed for the door.
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