The Coffee Shop This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 29, 2017

It was late. I had come home to our small and dingy house to everything surprisingly quiet except for the faint coughing coming from my mother’s bedroom. I lived with my mother and my two sisters. Our home had signs of age with our worn out furniture from thrift stores and countless photographs of my siblings and I. There was a few of when my mom wasn’t sick and had a healthy glow about her, or when my father was alive smiling brightly wearing an old baseball hat I had given him when I was eight years old. We didn’t live in the best neighborhood. It was a place where young teenagers would cause trouble and do drugs and the police seemed to roam the streets at night looking for someone to arrest for no reason. I made sure to lock the door for the fear of being broken into. I looked over at the small clock by the entryway window that read 10:49. My two younger sisters Maya and Maria both have seemed to asleep and good thing at that. They wouldn’t have to have found out about the small and disappointingly amount of food I had brought home. I had set down a loaf of bread, a jug of milk, and a couple of cans of soup and beans onto the old and worn downed countertops of our little kitchen. I had also put away the numerous packages and bottles of medicine into a cabinet that can be locked with a key. I grabbed two pills and filled a cup with water and tiptoed my way to my mother’s room where I knew she’d still be awake.

“Mom, I’ve brought you, your medicine,” I said quietly.

I could barely see her nod her small head in the darkness of the room. It was a small room with a closet on the left side filled with my mother’s clothing and belongings. The wallpaper was a faint mint color like mint chocolate ice cream and was tearing at the edges. There was a bedside table with a lamp on it and then there was my mom. She was a tiny woman with dark brown hair and large chocolate colored eyes. My father used to say it was one of the reasons why he fell in love with her. She was lively and energetic but now she lays in her bed never leaving only to go the bathroom. I walked over to her and turned on the light. I set down the pills and grasped both of her small, cold hands in mine.

“I also have to tell you something else. Okay?”

She nodded once more, worry settling onto her face.

“I’ve lost my job.”

And as I looked at her pale face I let the words sink in and in that moment I realized the severity of the situation. When my boss told me he had to let me go that morning and told me it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t believe what was happening. I asked myself how could it not be my fault? I was the only one who could work. The only one who could maintain my family. I was the breadwinner. And then I wasn't.

All my life I’ve have only seen work, work, and work. And crime especially crime. When I was younger my father would leave the house even before the sun had risen and wouldn’t come home until it was pitch black with only the stars to illuminate our sad and crime-filled neighborhood. So when my two younger sisters saw me that next morning they knew. Their small, little faces lit up like a lightbulb when they saw me until they slowly realized what it meant. I had no job and in turn no money to buy the necessities that we needed.

“Isa, Isa!” They said as the bounded over to me. That’s what they called me. It was a shorter version of my name Isabella. When they were younger it was difficult for Maria to say the whole thing so she shortened it to Isa.

“It’s all right,” shouted Maya. The twin who always had her hair in pigtails.

“We can help,” chimed in Maria.

But before they could make any more noise I said, “Quiet down, please. Mom is still asleep.

“We can get jobs,” whispered Maya.

“Yeah, we can help you get money,” said Maria quietly.

I pulled both of the twins into a tight hug hoping I wouldn’t cry and whispered, “It’s alright. You two don’t have to do that. You're both only ten years old. You just focus on school. Everything will turn out fine.”

They both nodded their heads solemnly and each gave me a tight hug. I had a feeling they didn’t believe me and I wasn’t sure if I believed myself either.

I knew that I had to get a job soon. The money that we did have wasn’t going to last forever. Soon the pills and medication that my mom needed were going to run out and the twins needed clothes and so much more. They have had a tough life. Their father died when there were only babies and they hardly have a mother. But finding a job was difficult especially when I was only 18 at the time and every once in awhile you could hear gunshots ringing out in the dead of night.

I decided to search online and newspaper ads looking for any available job I could take at the library. A number of ads for cleaning homes appeared and I wasn’t sure if I should do that. My previous job had been a cashier at a local grocery store, the pay was small but enough for my family. After a few hours of looking at ads, I gave up. Finding no success I left the library feeling defeated. Wrapping my scarf tighter around me I walked through town trying to get home to my twin sisters and mother. Passing the familiar streets of my childhood I soon spotted the old, quaint cafe my father used to take me to when I was a little girl. The scent of coffee brought back warm memories of my father and I getting coffee and hot chocolate to drink on slightly cold mornings in autumn when the leaves changed from reds to oranges and yellows. Mr. Rivers the owner an old, kind man would always greet us with a bright smile and when he found out about my father’s death he was greatly saddened. Every once in awhile he would offer me and my sisters coffee or hot chocolate. And when I passed by the shop I decided an old, kind face would be nice to see again.

“Ah! Isabella, it's so good to see you again!” said Mr. Rivers with a smile. He came over and gave me a hug.

“It's good to see you again too,” I said.

“Would you like some coffee? It looks like you need it.”

“I wouldn't mind that. I've been having a hard day.”

“Oh! What seems to be bothering you?” said Mr. Rivers as the smell of warm coffee being brewed wafted through the shop. The shop was kinda small but it still managed to get quite the number of customers. It was probably due to the charm the place had and the nice owner. I wasn't sure if I wanted to burden Mr. Rivers with my problems but I always knew that he would give me good advice.

“I've lost my job at the grocery store. And I've been having a hard time finding a new one.”

As Mr. Rivers brought me my cup of coffee he said with a smile,”Well it looks like you just found a new one.”

Confused I asked,”What do you mean?”

“My old cashier just moved away and it looks like there is an opening.” Who would've known that this old coffee shop would be my savior.

It's been almost a year since that happened and I've been living a better life. Free of the long shifts that I had worked at the grocery store. My mother is still sick but now she has her medication without worrying about whether or not we'll be able to buy it and my sisters get to see more often. Working at the cafe has given me a better wage and better hours so I don't have to come in very early in the morning or leave extremely late at night. I get to spend more time with my sisters to do simple things like homework or watching movies cuddled up in warm, fluffy blankets. And I've been saving up some money to go to the local community college. From now on life seems a little brighter.

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