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Coffee Coffee Coffee

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Alex stumbled down the stairs, rebounded gently off the wall and turned left into the kitchen. Claire, watching with amusement from her perch at the kitchen island, didn't think he opened his eyes once the whole time.

"Coffee," Alex mumbled, making a bee line for the coffee pot that had performed heroic, near-permanent duty on their kitchen counter for the last three years. "Coffee, coffee, wife, coffee."

"Good morning to you, too, dear," Claire said, and flicked to the next page in the Sun Times, waiting for the moment of realisation.

"Coffee, coffee." Alex upended the pot into the jumbo-sized mug that he kept for snowy Monday mornings like this one. It took him at least ten whole seconds to realise that no matter what angle he held the pot at, no Kona would come forth. "Coffee?" he asked, sounding so bewildered that Claire bit back a laugh out of pity.

"We're all out," Claire explained. "No coffee," she elaborated, when it seemed like that was too complicated a message for Alex to understand with a brain that had been hijacked by the insistent, duelling requirements of a novel deadline and a three-month-old.

"Coffee," Alex said in miserable acknowledgment, shoulders slumping and mug dangling from suddenly limp fingers. He was a picture of dejection, standing there in the middle of the kitchen in his bare feet, striped pyjama bottoms hanging from his hips and his hair bed-mussed and tangled.

"But," Claire said, standing and picking up her wallet, "I'm going to run down to Starbucks and get you the biggest cup of the darkest roast they have, and I'll be right back, okay?"

"Coffee," Alex said, perking up, and the smile on his face was the broad, brilliant one that always made Claire's toes curl, just a little. He crossed the room in two big strides, picked her up and kissed her, firm and hot and loving, and Claire reached out blindly and tossed her wallet in the vague direction of the counter—the coffee could wait for a while.