Day 35 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a life changing coffee shop experience.
Erin: “I’ll have a white mocha latté,” I instructed the barista.
“Name,” he asked as he picked up one of the cups for warm drinks.
“Torren,” I waited to see how she spelled it. She forgot one of the “R”s.
“5.78,” she instructed reaching for my card, I handed it over and she was swiping it before I knew it.
In five minutes my name was being called and my morning routine was coming to an end. Until something out of the ordinary happened. When my hand connected with the coffee I was handed the liquid turned to ice. Judging by the wide eyes of the girl who had made it, this was also the first time she had witnessed the situation.
Shannon: “I’m sorry miss,” an older man interrupted me. “I know you’re reading, and I don’t mean to bug you, but this is the only open chair. Do you mind if I sit with you?”
“Of course not, go ahead,” I encouraged.
“Thank you,” he said genuinely as he put his cup down on the table so he could pull out his chair. “I’m Albert by the way.”
“Eleanor,” I added my introduction to his.
“Really,” his face lit up. “That was my wife’s name. What a happy coincidence.”
I nodded with a smile, “It was my grandma’s name too.”
“Well I have yet to meet a Eleanor I dislike,” he took a drink from his cup, “and I can’t image I have much time left to meet one that will prove me wrong.”
I always felt awkward when people talked about how they were running out of time. Partially because I never knew what to say, and partially because I liked to act like death was a surprise and not an inevitable end. I shrugged. “You don’t know me that well yet,” I joked.
“I’m not too worried,” he shook his head. “I actually know more about you than you think. I’m sorry, but I don’t know the proper way to bring this up, but is your name Eleanor Walker?”
I nodded, suddenly scared.
“I believe I’m your grandfather,” he revealed.
I never met the man, because based on what I was told he’d left my grandmother when my mother was a kid. I just ruled him out of the picture, because it didn’t seem necessary to dig information on someone who wasn’t interested in staying in the picture. “Why are you here,” I questioned, not knowing how I felt.
“Your mother wouldn’t give me your contact information. I had to find you on my own. There are some things I have to tell you. I need to share them with someone in the family, or it will all be lost. If you’ll let me?”
I wanted to believe my mother was keeping him away for a reason, but I wasn’t mad at him, and I wanted to know. “I’m listening.”
Good things start with coffee, even your story.
As I crossed the street to the Blue-Green café my mind was preoccupied with a particularly vicious spider plant I had purchased for our living room. Anise was supposed to be taking care of him but my fingers itched to text her, just in case. There was a part of me, as I pulled the door and almost tripped over the frame, that was thinking only of the perfect specimen I’d left home alone with someone who could kill a cactus.
Steadying myself in my heavy army boots and taking a few timid steps into the aromatic room, I struggled to recall what I’d come down for. When Savean, the naiad barista, saw my stranded appearance she called in her trill voice, “Lil? You alright, hon?” Between us was an ocean of hardwood floors and bistro tables and I swam toward her bright eyes. Once I was safely anchored to the counter I gazed around with unseeing eyes at their menu board; I couldn’t even remember what I was supposed to get Anise.
While I’m certain Savean rolled her eyes at my stuttered order before pushing a lime ceramic espresso cup before me, black liquid sloshing up the sides. Eyeing it carefully I decided she wouldn’t give me anything dangerous and gulped the whole cup in one go. As the scalding drink, somewhere between sweet and sour, oozed down my throat I could feel electricity waking up every inch of my skin and every cell in my body screamed with nervous energy. I could almost see the blood bounding its way through my veins.
Standing in front of me with her pale scale-spotted hand covering her giggling lips was Savean. When she carefully took the delicate cup from my vibrating fingers she passed another cup to me; this one held a miniscule amount of stark alabaster fluid. Without a word she strolled over to the coffeemaker and busily began cleaning off the steamer. She was one of the cleanliest people I knew, so I knew she was just waiting for me to trust her.
I gently picked up the cup, watching the liquid stardust swirl around in the bottom, and swallowed the bitter fluid in a difficult gulp. Gradually my heartrate slowed and steadied, the electrical pulses died down and my hands ceased to tremble. Still breathing heavily I whispered, “What the hell was that, Savy?” For the record, I felt a lot better; as though I’d slept for a week and had been awakened by the sun’s balmy rays. But I had to keep up the tough façade.
Chuckling dryly she cooed, “It’s a miracle elixir we’re perfecting. It worked, huh?” With the coffee maker sufficiently cleaned Savean turned back to the till and punched in my usual order as well as a decaf, no foam caramel and vanilla latte for Anise. “Your usual is on your tab and Anise’ is on hers.” Winking slyly she turned her back to begin crafting our life-giving beverages.
With some time to spare I leaned against the steel counter and scanned the shop for a familiar face, but found only a couple I knew by name but couldn’t tell you a thing about them. But then I saw the glint of a spectacular garnet sigil pendant against a pale, slender throat. Somewhere in the back of my mind was a memory of that peculiar symbol on that exact pendant; I’d seen it somewhere very familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Even with the elixir from Savy I couldn’t fit this pale, childlike face anywhere; with eyes that stood out like two pieces of charcoal she should have been very simple to place. After what seemed like forever our drinks were in my travel mugs, piping hot and delicious. But instead of leaving I leaned back to peer at Savean who was studiously avoiding my gaze as she mindlessly wiped down the back counter. Clearing my throat more aggressively than I’d meant to she turned with dazzling indigo eyes to glare jokingly, “What do you want now, Lily?”
After I easily lost the glaring contest I grinned goofily, “See that chick off in the corner alone?” Thumbing in the direction of the offending suspicious character I lowered my voice considerably and breathed, “Do you know her? Because she seems so familiar to me.” Again I stared at the strange, black-eyed woman intently.
“Nope,” she trilled, moving her head to get a better view and repeating, “Nope.” The black Victorian dress she wore was out of the ordinary but not unheard of here; we had people who went about their business nude and those who covered every inch of their bodies in fabric, to each his own. But the subtle, intricate details in the bodice were enticingly grandiose for a lowly Briarwood café. I was about to stride to her table when Savy’s clawed fingers dug into my arm painfully.
Yanking my limb out of her iron grip I scowled at her, rubbing the soon-to-be bruise tenderly. She just sighed and threw up her arms in surrender; something about this woman had Savean on edge, which put me on edge.
When I straightened my cotton blouse and strode to the table I put on a fake smile while avoiding the woman’s devastatingly onyx eyes. Continuing to stare at a fascinating piece of artwork across the café she took a deep breath and sighed, “I was wondering when you’d buck up the courage to come over here. Not many would, you know.” She turned her head to scrutinize my very soul with her black-hole eyes. Uncomfortable with her gaze I dropped mine to the strange pendant she wore.
“Why did you expect me to come over?” without thinking the question popped out in a thin voice. If I could’ve taken the words back I would have after her gaze was even deeper and more profound.
Chuckling dryly she took a deliberate sip of her drink; the cup had a fruity aroma but was the same shade as her eyes. Her tone was dry when she didn’t answer my question airily, “My name, Lily Anne Heart, is Serena Cor.” After that sentence my life would change forever.
Created to Write:
August had offered to bring Josh to the cafe for some down time. Josh was knee deep in his schoolwork, training, and his shifts at the dojo, but he obliged his brother.
August gets a coffee and donut. Josh orders a tea. They sit at the window, looking out at the street. “How long are you staying?” Josh asks.
August takes a sip, then says, “A week.”
“…Heather doing better?”
“Yeah. She’s moving around more. She has less nightmares, but the ones she has are still real…” August sighs, “really bad.”
Both boys take a sip. Josh studies his younger brother’s face, “What’s on your mind?”
August looks up from his donut, humming.
“You have your deep thinking face on,” Josh says, motioning to his face.
August looks outside, seeing a young family on the other side of the street. “What if… you learned something, and you believed it. But you know that someone you care about, didn’t, and… and that meant they could die tomorrow and never know?” He looks at Josh, “What would you do?”
Josh pauses for a second, “What are you getting at Gus?”
August taps his fingers on the table, trying to work up the right words.
“I… My eyes are open, Josh,” August says, finally looking his brother in the eye, “There’s… the… agh!” August leans back in his chair, “Why is this so hard!”
“Dude, take a breath.”
“This is so, so important, Josh,” August says, “and… and I don’t want… I don’t want you to-”
“August, what is this about?” Josh asks, “What’s changed?”
August looks up. Josh had noticed there was something off about him, but now, looking directly into his brown eyes, he can see there is an invisible spark of, something. Maybe joy.
“Josh,” August says with a tone that stresses awe, “I accepted Christ as my savior.” His face slowly spreads into a smile as he proclaims his choice.
Josh stares at him, “…Run that by me again.”
“I, August,” he says, pointing to himself, “am a Christian.”
August thinks about it, then scoffs, “The same way that I went after Heather. He was present, but didn’t show himself unless I wanted to listen, or wanted an answer. And… you know I said there was something that, almost pulled me, to Heather. To help her?”
August smiles, implying silently what he thinks.
“That was him? God?”
August shrugs, “What else could it be!”
Josh scrunches his eyebrows, thinking.
He looks up.
“Can I tell you a story?”
Josh sees the light in August’s eyes grow stronger. He can tell his brother sits taller, he has his head set. And there’s pleading for Josh to at least hear him out.
Josh takes a sip of his tea, then leans back, “Sure.”