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The Coffee Shop Chronicles

Image Description KL32   |   01 June 2018


A series of short stories transpiring within the confines of a coffee shop --- underneath that heavenly aromatic coffee cloud, descended upon by the coffee gods.

The Probability of the Cinnamon-Dolce Latte

Chronicle No. 1


HER

He sits there alone. And she stares at him with all subtlety, hoping he'd look her way and invite her over to his table. But she knows it's nothing but a hopeful fantasy— a daydream she'd like to replay in her head over and over again like a pirated black-and-white Filipino movie.

For she reckons he sees not his surroundings, with his earphones plugged into his ears, eyes closed, shutting the world around him from the reality he had built within the maze of his mind where only he could travel — maybe with his music or maybe with his solitude.

But nobody knows what he's thinking, really. Nobody could even guess his thoughts, for he always wears that stoic face — cold, blank and sinfully handsome. And the girls sitting near her table agree with her,Cute sana, suplado lang, she hears them whisper to each other.

And she doesn't know why, despite his reticence, she's still drawn into the black hole that is him. Him — the black hole, her — the helplessly unknown floating particle sucked into the fascinating mystery about him … deeper and deeper into a core that could either be bursting with surprises or filled with emptiness — she wants to know.

But all of these are just her fancies of what might not have been. Maybe he's just an ordinary guy thinking of the most ordinary thoughts in such an ordinary day.

Now it's almost three in the afternoon. He stands up, earphones still plugged into his ears (his music probably banging loud in his head). And she sits there near the door, twirling the pen around her trembling fingers. She thinks of letting it fall with gravity and have it kiss the floor. Cause maybe he'd pick it up and say "miss, your pen." And she'd say "Ay, thank you —?" And he’d introduce himself, “Edward, pala”. Then a spark ignites… or maybe an explosion in the cosmos like the big bang all over again, and she wouldn't care whether science or religion started it all.

Or maybe he would just pass by, just like what he does now, calmly walking pass her towards the door with his hushed steps and indifferent sunglasses.

HIM

As was his usual routine, he sits at the table near the window: His earphones silence the world around him as he closes his eyes to drown himself in Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars. For he is a sick boy ever since he noticed that geeky girl weeks ago sitting on that same spot near the door.

She wears the same hipster eye glasses, over large t-shirt tucked slightly in her straight-cut pants so it would not hang too loosely, and black sneakers — the type of woman he has always read from those superhero comic books.

She sits near the door, with her laptop, a few books, a pen, and her black notebook where she scribbles some notes into once in a while.A student, probably? “M-A-Y-M-A-Y,” are the letters pasted on her laptop’s top cover to disguise the apple symbol. He notices her looking around, observing people, and sometimes eavesdropping conversations in nearby tables. He laughs in his mind thinking how obvious, and yet oblivious, she could be. And at times he notices her staring at him — or was it just a coincidence that when he looks her way, her stare seems to gaze at his direction?

And he pretends not to care or not to notice. But he can't. For he's anxious she might be studying him, or writing about him, or maybe — probably — those are just mere coincidences magnified by his peripheral vision.

And now she sits there again, her eyes wander about, her one hand holds a pen, the other forks a bite-size of tiramisu she always ordered (something they both have in common).

It's almost three in the afternoon. He sips his cinnamon dolce latte to the last remaining drop. Should he go and introduce himself? He silently hopes she'd drop her pen so he could pick it up. Then maybe he could ask for her name.

He stands up and heads to the door. His hands a little cold, his thoughts a squabble of whethers-or-nots. Finally, he notices her twirling the pen like a baton wanting to be free from the grasp of her slender fingers. Will she drop it? Will he pick it up? Will he summon all the courage in the world and ask for her name (and maybe her number, too). Will he finally introduce himself?

He is five steps away from the door, and three steps closer to her. His feet seem to weigh heavier as he nears her table.

One...

Two...

Three.

But she doesn't drop her pen. And he doesn't introduce himself. And he walks silently straight to the door catching the scent of flowers exuding from her black waves.

Maybe next time.


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