I took an ironic meaning of this word. Neither Jay nor Tori are very responsible people.
Spider lilies are an interesting symbol. Here’s a link to learn more if you’re curious: http://wordpress.tokyotimes.org/the-beauty-of-autumns-red-spider-lily-japans-flower-of-death/
I hope you enjoy! Thank you for reading.
Mensch (n): a responsible person
The man was alone in every sense of the word. He was the only customer in the shop this late.
In his eyes, Tori saw the reflections of another man. One she had left behind.
“Here’s one on the house,” she offered, sliding a dark mug over to him.
He looked up, dark eyes widening in surprise.
Nodding gratefully, he took a sip. As soon as the coffee entered his mouth, he grimaced, nose wrinkling.
“How does it taste?” she asked, a knowing smile slipping on to her face.
“Bitter,” he replied with a laugh.
“Here,” Tori said, handing him a little pitcher of milk.
Little toffee and caramel colored galaxies spiraled out in the mug wherever the milk was poured. Eventually the color evened out.
“So, where do you come from?” she asked casually, getting out a mug for herself.
“The city,” he offered.
“I used to live there…”
“Really? Why did you leave?”
“I was running away…”
The man’s eyes lit up with interest.
“Did you escape it here?”
Tori contemplated the question. “No. It followed me everywhere until I finally had to accept it.”
“Then why are you still here?”
Tori raised her eyebrow at the question.
The man flushed in embarrassment.
“Sorry… I didn’t mean to—”
“No, it’s a good question. I’m still here because accepting it and being able to deal with it are two very different things.”
The man seemed to turn over her words in his head like they were a jagged stone in his hand.
“Was leaving the right decision for you?”
Tori laughed. “It depends… It wasn’t a very responsible decision. I left behind a mess that I was expecting someone else to take care of. But I feel like it would have gotten worse the longer I stayed.”
“I get what you mean…”
“So what exactly are you running from?” Tori asked, deciding she had divulged enough of her own secrets.
The man turned back to his coffee. His eyes were like an overcast day— cloudy, uncertain. He opened his mouth a few times, though he never ended up saying anything.
It was fine. Tori knew the meaning of silence. Somethings couldn’t be said out loud. Otherwise they died away like the transient things they were.
“You don’t have to say it,” Tori said, letting it go.
He threw back the last of the bitter drink and then dropped the correct amount of change on the counter.
“Thank you,” he said, meeting her sharp gaze. The shadows in his eyes had only grown more pronounced. He turned to go.
Tori hesitated. Their conversation felt somehow incomplete. Something compelled her to speak again.
“Leaving never makes things better. It only stops things from getting worse.”
Turning back to her in surprise, he spoke softly. “I don’t have a choice. I just have to keep walking forward.”
“If you need to catch your breath for a moment, you know where to come.”
He seemed as though there was something he wanted to say.
Finally, he turned back to the door, waving as he left.
“Bye…” Tori replied, watching him leave.
He walked across the garden path that lead to the cafe, crossing the trails of red spider lilies that lined his pathway.
Tori got the feeling she wouldn’t be seeing him for a long time.