the coffee shop club

the opening section to a series of short stories underway.

A glare coming from the puddles made me double back, recheck what I saw, search for the facts: just a bridge in the reflection. After a long rain in Brooklyn my walk to work was scattered and split as I hopped back and forth from sidewalk to street to avoid the puddles looking more like longstanding lakes. They were considering staying for the spring. I tucked my hands inside my black pea coat and kept my collar up high, my nose tucked inside my scarf. Spring still felt lifetimes away and as I turned the corner icy winds ran to meet me, biting and nipping through my jeans all the way into the coffee shop. The bells rattled at my entrance. The warm air wrapped me up like my mother when I got out of the bath as a child. The whirl of the espresso machine and the crunch of computer keys filled the air. College students, freelance writers, web designers, and bloggers they all crowded our shop the second we opened the doors at six a.m. and some I swear stayed until close. There was a seating area designated for them. The rest of the cafe belonged to customers who came and went, rejoined the rest of the world, had their coffee and crumb cake and made their way back out: accountants and mothers and dentists and nine to fivers and rich high school kids who cut class.

This neighborhood was funny like that. It was the only place I had ever lived that felt like an even playing field, everyone crossed paths. Being poor or at least looking it had come into trend in the last five years and with it Brooklyn did too. I was neither rich nor poor nor cool. I worked as the barista in this little coffee shop and these customers had become like a family to me in the last few years. To anyone walking in I’m sure it looked like we all just happened to be there but I knew their stories, their careers, the characters being created in their next novel. Being a barista in a place like this was like being a bartender only everyone was actually productive. Instead of talking out their dreams they were making them happen one email, one short story, one afternoon at a time.

Jess and Melanie sat in the far corner most Tuesdays and Thursday. They had been together for seven years and wrote a line of gluten free organic cook books right when being healthy was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and they made out like bandits on the project, six books later and an a adorable adopted daughter from Taiwan these women were my idols. Only I wanted to be married to a tall dark and handsome man covered in tattoos and carrying our three-year-old son, but hey a girl can dream right? Jess and Melanie were coming here before I had arrived in Brooklyn and on my first day of work they invited themselves to my new and completely unfurnished apartment for a drink that night. They brought me a case of wine and a fern that I still have to this day. They taught me how to compost and every year for Christmas they give me a subscription to the fruit of the month club and like clockwork a box of heavenly pears or apples all wrapped in gold would show up my door.


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