Book Club / Writing

coffee tales

I used to think you could tell a person by the way in which they took their tea. Then I began to dabble in coffee. My brother always says coffee has become as elaborate as someone’s daily horoscope: Nonsensical, confusing, over-complicated and often a placebo. 

I’m enrapt by people. Intoxicated by personalities, quirks, demeanours. Each singular person who crosses the threshold of our shop are all strikingly different, yet mesmerizingly familiar. 

I had hopes for my life in the small town. The things I would do, achieve. The person I would become. But, none of it reached me. The things I sought became distant. I wanted to sink into the background unnoticed. With a sense of power and responsibility became a sheer desire to escape it, all the while coupled with a fear for loss of control. I sought interesting interactions like one sought a glass of red wine after a stressful day. They became my daily sustenance. 

Perhaps it’s in my nature to become enamoured easily. The slight curves of someone’s smile. The intense nature of their gaze. The energy of their presence. Good or bad. Attractive or not. I couldn’t help but fixate on them. 

Much akin to your local bar, your local barista becomes a form of therapist; the entire ordeal a ceremony. A calm escape in a busy day – if you let it. I find my life becoming too intertwined in stories I’m no longer sure exist. Seeking to progress fact into fiction. Taking people’s intricacies and developing my own plot and narrative and story. 

The man who brushes in off the street, a brisk stride, lowered gaze, easy but firm expression. He orders a large single shot latte. What does this mean. Where has he been. Is he single or married. Richly educated or scarcely to touch a book. What does he hold inside his mind that he fuels with a 12oz cup of milk and minimal caffeination. 

He orders a large single shot latte.
What does he hold inside his mind that he fuels with a 12oz cup of milk.

The frantic lady, who rushes in for her usual. Where has she been today, this week, in her former years. Her hair unbrushed and deep set lines tell more when she utters the phrase black americano, extra shot. No lust for the lavish. Tart tastes. Resolute being. To me, I am Attenborough and she is the expanse of nature. I am a voyeur to a life I could not possibly begin to understand. Complexities to the character, so deep rooted in experiences that have been lost to time and never to be retold. Perhaps she is simply under-rested and lactose intolerant. 

My mind carries me through the day. The therapy of repetition. Drink after drink after drink. Sets of rules to be abided. Regulations for consistency that are rarely matched in life anymore. A deep sweep, high pour and intricate pattern. A flourish. To be followed only by temperature checks, cleaning fridges and monotony. 

Do they realise they have become characters in my own tale. Tales of their lives. Undiscovered experiences. That when they begin to truly explain their journey, I have lost interest. It shall never be as fascinating as the lives I have created for them. The journeys they have never taken, but that make their fictional lives all the more richer. 

I will never cease to wonder. The strange follies and mishaps that we discuss in detail, how do they interpret these? Do people second guess themselves, go home and ponder, or not give a second thought to. When the roles reverse, I sweat on things for days, weeks, years. I remember small intricate details of interactions, most I assume are lost in time for the other people in question.

What do they feel from the other side. Do they match our dissection? Is my life a wonderful tale in their eyes? Not filled with the guilt of capitalism and the chaos of constant consumption. Profiting off their need for an outlet. Emotions to be poured out or poured into their drink, all for the fine price of £3, plus cake. The whole ordeal feels sinister. Corrupt. I feel pleasure and dirty all in one. The stains on my hands, once grounds, feel unwashable. Tarnished by these constant exchanges; existential crises. My goods for your mind and my ability to mentally unravel you; judge you, ponder you. 

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