still Caffeine by any other Name

Somehow, every story of Jack’s comes back to coffee. He’d meet people over mochas, converse over cappuccinos, and spend the summer with iced coffee in hand. Maybe that’s why he’s never been lucky: his blood is too watered down with black doubles. Love is an affair of the heart, with passion symbolized by the rushing of red blood through the face, body, and, well, you know basic male anatomy.

And love, love is just a blood sport, son. It’s not a game: a game is something you can win, and love is something that must be earned.

But not earned in the same way that Jack had earned the $1.47 to pay for his coffee and muffin that day.

It’d been a while since the revelation. One year, two: it didn’t really matter how Jack measured the time between what he was and what he remembered being. Funny how so often self-identity isn’t something you create, it’s something that others create for you. But that’s my degree speaking.

He didn’t sit down inside with his coffee like usual. He didn’t pull out a binder or clipboard or novel and spread out the icons of his scholastic endeavours before him for the world to see. No, that day he took the steaming drink outside to a wrought iron table and equally industrial chair.

I forgot to mention that it was the middle of October, and hovering around zero even at noon. Jackets were a must, and Jack found himself wrapped in a cotton cocoon, from boots at the bottom to the toque on top.

His breath steamed the same way the coffee did, but his cheeks didn’t flush red. No passion, remember?

There was a reason to his choice of situation, though: outside, he could be pitied. Inside he was only another young man addicted to caffeine. Out there in the cold, alone, staring absently at the cars that drove by, he was barely even a person. Or at least not a person one would stop and talk to. Smile, maybe, but who’d stall in the cold to exchange words with Jack?

His cell phone twitched in his pocket, announcing that someone was interested. Jack ventured a half-frozen hand into the pocket of his jeans and fumbled for the orange phone, coloured that way so he’d never misplace it. He was bad like that, forgetting important things as he rushed about his world.

Hey Jack, it’s Ashley. Coffee 2morrow? Txt me.

The name furrowed Jack’s brow and implanted a seed of confusion in his mind. He didn’t know an Ashley. He also didn’t remember giving his number to anyone the last few times he’d danced and drank his loneliness away. But at the same time he didn’t want to pass it off as a wrong number. Soon enough, the seed of confusion sprouted some leaves of curiousity, and bloomed from the tough soil to catch a glimpse of the bright world around it.

And that bright world was full of hope.

The End

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