Thank you, he said sleepily.

The coffee wasn’t made how he liked it, but it was made, in a mug, and sitting there. That’s all that counts, right? The thought, and the effort? To complain that it’s not how he liked would have seemed ungrateful.

But he didn’t. It wasn’t quite right. When she was out of sight, he added a little sugar, a little cream, stirred it up to a milk chocolate color, and sipped. Yes.

Did it take away from what she did for him? Death by a thousand cuts, fueled by caffeine, but in a word: yes. She was making that mistake people often make, where they do something the way they imagine they would do it if they were you, instead of doing it the way you would do it.

Two thousand miles away, a woman was having a non sequitur.

However, he wondered if the times he had made cups for her were the same way. Perhaps slightly, but he had watched her make a cup many times, and he imitated her technique quite well. He wanted to get it right. He had been successful.

She didn’t care to take it that far. He takes cream and sugar, she thinks, and there’s that done. But it really wasn’t good enough. It was slightly off. Any given day, it didn’t matter, but the accumulation of so many days of being slightly off, together with the accumulation of so many days of everything being slightly off, was honestly driving him crazy.

He had tried drinking it black, and that was fine. But, he reasoned, if you’re putting cream and sugar in at all, you should have the proper amount of cream and the proper amount of sugar.

It was just enough to unsettle him, ever so slightly. The first pebbles that predicted an avalanche. He sighed, and went into the depths of the house to take a shower and wash away the disappointment.

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