The ginkgo leaves hadn’t quite started to turn yet, but his heart had.
The tears were back. The waking up with his face wet at three in the morning. The sudden wish to weep in the middle of sanding down an old table, before priming it for restoration.
The aching sense of loss.
Jasper had no idea where it came from.
The sorrow wasn’t his. There was no way it was his.
Jasper was a happy man. At least, that’s what he told himself. And it was sometimes even true, when the ghosts weren’t busting his balls.
“You ever feel like there’s so much shit wrong with the world, there’s no way it can ever be fixed?” Katie asked. The autumn sun poured through the plate glass windows, warming her rounded cheeks and light brown, wavy hair. She wore a black hoodie, black T-shirt, and black jeans, her usual uniform. She looked like a squat crow in the middle of the bright yellow tables and rich blue walls of the Jitterbug Cafe.
It was Sunday, and he and his sister were having their usual once-a-month brunch and catch up session. The restaurant bustled as usual, and the server set down a stack of french toast and berries for Katie and a spinach and feta omelette for Jasper.
“More coffee?” the man asked. His blond hair was swept back from his forehead, highlighting a broad forehead and tapering jaw. He was too thin for Jasper’s taste, but nice looking all the same, and had been mildly flirting with Jasper since they had first sat down in his station. Clearly the man liked bears. Jasper wasn’t even wearing his leather vest today, but the burly-daddy-bear essence never went away.
“Yes please.” Jasper held out his cup. The waiter – Timothy, Jasper read on his name tag – brushed Jasper’s knuckles, steadying the heavy white mug as he poured.
Maybe he wasn’t too thin for Jasper after all. Jasper was still trying to work things out with Steve, a man he’d met in a bar a few months ago. Things were going well so far, but Jasper could tell that the ghosts freaked Steve out a bit.
Couldn’t blame him. They still freaked Jasper out, too, and Jasper was a trained medium and witch.
Timothy poured some more of the dark, fragrant brew into Katie’s cup. She offered a sardonic, “Thank you” and quirked her eyebrow at Jasper as the server walked away.
“Does every young man in Berkeley have the hots for you?”
Jasper felt the heat of a blush creep up his neck. Good thing most of his face was hidden with by his beard.
“Shut up. He’s not into me. I’m too old. And fat.”
“Uh, I think young Timothy likes too old and fat just fine.”
Jasper cut off a triangle of omelette, and almost groaned as the feta hit his tongue. The cook had tucked sun dried tomatoes into the folded egg. Oh. My. Goddess.
“You’re ignoring me,” Katie said.
Jasper took another bite of heaven.
Katie sighed and dug into her french toast.
He finally finished chewing and cleared his throat. She glanced up, chewing happily now. Katie loved french toast.
“So, something has been bugging me lately.”
She nodded, and made a “go on” gesture with her coffee cup.
“I keep feeling…sad. And I don’t think it’s about anything in my life. I mean…I’m not a big cryer, right? But I keep waking up in tears.” He shrugged and took another bite of omelette.
His sister kept making her way through her french toast. She’d learned to wait on his thought processes.
The hum of conversation rose and fell around them as they ate. Someone in the back dropped a cup. The shattering porcelain crashed into Jasper’s ears.
He looked up.
“That’s it. I think something or someone has broken themselves and is asking me for help.”