The Café

January 16, 2013
By E.barns BRONZE, Barrington, Illinois
E.barns BRONZE, Barrington, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The Café

There I stood frozen, still and elegant like an oil canvas painting. Yet this artwork had no frame, and life did not stop with me to pose. The cinderblocks on my bony limbs were perfectly content staying in one place. The crowds pushing their way through the door could not generate even a slight sway through such a numbing corpse. Never did I feel so helpless and alone, I began to figure my skin had turned so white, leaving me invisible to the masses.

I stood below a door. Rusty hinges squeak with every push and pull, almost making the sweet chime of a bell redundant. Orange and spattered with dirt, the door conveyed none of the comfort and warmth that awaited you inside the café. If the look of the door didn’t create an enticing environment, treading through the spit and gum covered stairwell could win your heart over every day. Today felt different, all familiarity and comfort in this door and what lies behind it had vanished. No longer did I yearn for the dim lighting, the quite murmurs, and soft whistle of the espresso machine. I feared it all, nothing looked warm or cozy. I saw no entertainment in the stir of coffee and steam filled breads. Yet, I couldn’t just live in the moment and escape my own disappointment. I had to feel silly and weak, I had to think how I possibly brought this on myself.

With the ding of my alarm, I sliver out of bed regretting every movement my body makes. I trudge over to the shower; pull the curtain from the right over to the furthest end of the bar it hangs from. With a blind eye, my hand wanders up and down the wall searching for the five-spoke knob. I’m too afraid to dip into the icy waterfall that drips with a sense of disappointment in its lack of pressure. I wait till I can feel the heat rising from the water on the rust stained porcelain. As I lather and wash myself my mind cannot evade the idea of crawling back into bed. Soft and cozy, I can hear its whisper in my ear. Revived and dry, I step out into the hall. Gleaming light peaks down the hall coming from the sun rising over the horizon of Boston. The squeak of the cabinet door voices the disappointment in my stomach as I glance at the same bland cereal I eat every morning. Delicious yet ridden of all interest and flavor to my tongue; I shovel it slowly holding back my feelings towards even the largest of honey oat clusters.

Somehow my body made it out the door, just as it does every morning. I hop and skip down the steps to my daily coffee run. The Caldwell Café is placed ever so precariously in a block of salons and Barbershops. Serving food and beverages always goes well with loose hair floating off heads that are cut to perfection. I order the same thing every day, a plain bagel with vegetable cream cheese along with a medium coffee. I stand silently to the side, keeping to myself waiting for the moment when my first sign of emotion leaks. I smile to the barista with a sense of familiarity despite the fact that I know only that her name is Cindy. Some would say what Cindy and I have defines everlasting love. Some days I consider saying something to her, just a simple “Thanks Cindy” or even a nod would suffice. How could I ever sum of the courage to be so reckless?

I then step out the door; I do not break my stride. I don’t need milk or sugar. Condiments in your coffee creates a fools paradise, you get all the perks and public recognition of being a “coffee drinker” yet really they lack strength and result to just biting the sugar cane that Cindy plucked from the field an hour ago. I push on to work, making minimal eye contact with everyone I pass. As I sit down in my office chair I fight back the bead of sweat that forms in the wrinkles of my forehead from pushing through the revolving door, I guess you could say I embody the athletic type.

Sitting alone in my office, I twirl back and forth for hours trying to think of what exactly I do for a living. With every shadow that crawls through the crack of the door, I hope someone will burst through and just finally tell me what I do for a living or if Cindy just kicked down the door with a coffee. Something that just gives my day a sense of meaning. The room sits low with dust balls that rest with to much confidence for my liking, sometimes I even consider talking to them, they tend to show more life than my office. The clocked strikes five and yet I can’t conclude anything about my job. With my general intelligence and wit, I formulate that it must be as mundane as the smell that lingers in the halls, faint and quiet yet never gives up without a fight.

As I left the office I head back home with a scarf wound tightly around my neck, it isn’t cold out but the scarf allows me to seep into its seams and fondle it while I avoid eye contact with store owners who attempt to reel you in. They take me for a fool; pretty much everyone knows that they don’t actually need an electric windshield scraper, yet somehow the devils minions win from time to time. As I passed the Caldwell Café I noticed a sign for free coffee with the purchase of a bagel, normally I couldn’t consider myself a fan of the nighttime caffeine rush, but sometimes a man must treat himself. Once again I bounced down those steps and took a sharp turn, yet came to halt at the sight of the café flooding with people. Such a fearful sight, a variable added to my day. I live every day to such a concise matter; I stay quiet and stick to what I know. How could a place I treasure create so much fear? I stood frozen and fearful at the sight of so many phonies. How could they just toy with me? Reaping the benefit of my on genius meal. Nobody should ever have to face such horror, such discomfort and public display of fraud. They trotted in and out of the café with grins on their faces, soothing coffee in their stomachs while smothering themselves in delicately crafted bagel topped with lava like cream cheese. Slow and thick it shifted back and forth atop the bread. They took Cindy’s smiles, thinking they were filled with sincerity. The raging fire in my head couldn’t even shake the paralysis.

One by one they drifted out, breezing past me yet not thanking me for the pleasure I had given them. The danger of the night grew and I was no closer to breaking out of such a sculpture like form. Never had I been outdoors so late. With just one customer lingering, I turned my rage into courage. I was going to talk to Cindy; I was going to ask her for a bagel and coffee. As I reached for the red, rusty doorknob, I glanced up one final time to catch the greatest crime committed of the whole night. With the removal of her apron Cindy fell into the arms of another man. Warm with emotion she appeared as oblivious to her surroundings as I once was. Yet she was comfortable and strong. She showed no uncertainty and lacked no commitment. In the end we all have to learn something from this, that there is just no such thing as original ideas in this world anymore. No matter how secure your life may seem, someone is always waiting around the bend with a trip wire.

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