The old wood door rattled in the frame behind him. “Stop banging the door! It’s going to fall off!” He wrapped her in a bear hug. His long blond hair smelled of the salty seaside. She sighed at the trail of sand behind him.
“Guess what, baby?” He pulled her around the pile of clothes in the middle of their one-room apartment. “You found us a dresser?” She asked hopefully. “Guess again!” He grabbed her hands. “How about some hangers?”
“Better!” He opened the door. In the hallway was a…what was that?
“It’s Red Vader, baby!”
“We have 17 dollars to last us until next Tuesday, and you bought — this?”
“Baby, don’t worry. Everything will be okay.” Okay? She was worn down sleeping on an air mattress and re-using coffee grounds.
“We don’t have plates!”
“This is so much better!” He hung Red Vader on a rusted nail over the fireplace. Bits of orange dust fell to the floor. She just knew those bricks were going to come tumbling down one day.
“You underestimate the power of the dark side.” He winked at her.
“Yes, yes. What was that?” She squinted at the young man in front of her.
“How much for the Darth Vader painting?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, that one shouldn’t be out here. It’s not for sale.”
“Joyce, you’ve been carting around that piece of crap for 36 years. You don’t even like Star Wars. Let him have it.”
Joyce picked up the painting and stood looking at it until her husband finally nudged her with his elbow.
“No, it’s not for sale.” She turned and carried it right out the flea market door.
Her husband shrugged, “Women.” The two men laughed. “I’ve got a couple Spider-Man lithographs you might like. Our son isn’t interested in them anymore.”
Joyce pulled into the coffee shop parking lot. The little bell chimed over the door. She put Red Vader in a chair and ordered a cappuccino.
Those Italian machines do make a difference, don’t they? A world away from those long-ago cups of coffee from re-used grounds. The slight taste of sea salt around the Thermos lids.
She opened her eyes. Red Vader still stared at her. “You underestimated the power of the dark side.” Had she ever. She laughed and wiped tears from the corners of her eyes.