Coffee Stains by Dorian J. Sinnott

When we first met, we never thought we’d have an expiration date—like milk—curdled and left in the sun. The sour stench of the past still lingers in every latte. In every breath of November.

How thick they poured the milk in that day.

Your laughter still resonates off rims of coffeecups; off lips that conceived shrewd lies. The barista promised our orders would be sweet, but the sugar was nothing more than a substitute. Real to the touch, but deep down, I could taste the sham. But I just smiled—enthralled by heavy milk and sweetner—while your eyes, dark as mocha, trapped my fickle heart.

For four years I drank that latte. Drank the syrupy lies, white as milk. And when my cup was empty, I still longed for more. Something smooth and sweet to numb the mind. The heart. But the barista closed shop for the summer. And I never drank another latte.

And I never saw you again.

Yet, the flavor never went away. The scathing lies and bitter truth of four years a fool are like clockwork. Routine with the rising of the sun. It’s a shame what time cleanses—but even more-so what stains it chooses to leave behind. Though, I know that they, too, will one day fade. Washed out by gentler hands.

It’s a shame rings from love can’t last as long as rings from mugs.

I still see your face in the window of that coffee shop. Lit up under the lights—and your smile. Four years deep. I only wonder if the others, seated at the tables we once were, taste the deceit in their cups, too. Buried beneath sugar and cream.

Mocha eyes and latte lies. 

The heat drowns my cravings—fresh froth clouding my mind. This year, the shop is open for summer. But not for me.

When November bears its teeth, I find a new barista who knows me by name. She sees the stains left behind on my sleeves, but never mentions them. Her eyes are an Earl Gray, not so deep. Not so dark. 

Lies are harder to hide in a cup of tea.

 My daily order becomes a ritual for her. She laughs and says I’m her easiest customer. Though I know she’s spotted me longfully looking at lattes, she’s never questioned it. Because I’m certain she was once me, tasting the sour old milk that forever coats the tongue. 

I take my coffee black now.

Dorian J. Sinnott is a graduate of Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, currently living in historic Kingston, NY with his two cats. When he’s not writing, he enjoys English horseback riding, playing violin, and traveling to comic cons up and down the east coast. He is the social media editor for Coffin Bell Journal. Dorian’s work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including: Crab Fat Literary Magazine, The Hungry Chimera, and Riggwelter.  

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