Chapter 1Mature

Annabelle finds out that the life she knew, the life she struggled with was not her destiny. A strange encounter with a kind old lady and a tasty cookie set Annabelle on the path to discovering who, or what, she really is!

The previous evening was a memory I was fighting hard to forget. The repletion of texts and words and thoughts were aggravating my heavy head. I knew when I woke up with swollen eyes that I couldn’t just sit at home, throw on my comfy, baggy paint stained clothes, and let the previous night's events absorb my every essence, like a puddle of water to a sponge.

I wanted to just walk, and let the surroundings take over. I wanted to see new things, hear people laughing and smiling and remind myself that life as I knew it wasn’t over. It was just another day, and by doing so, my heavy limbs inadvertently walked me into town. One place I tended to avoid unless it was absolutely necessary, and step by step I landed in this extraordinary café just as the heavens opened.

Shaking off the loose droplets of water that were attempting to saturate me further, I smiled at my ability to hastily seek out a quiet coffee shop, set back just off the high street. The frilly table cloths and its endearing name were not what attracted me, it was simply the nearest shop to me when the unexpected downpour hit.

I wondered how I hadn’t noticed this place before; a small cafe called Cup Cakes and Cappuccinos, it wasn’t exactly a forgettable name. In fact it should be legendary with a ballsy name like that. Obviously it wasn’t as modern as a Starbucks, but it was quirky. As I hung my sodden coat over the old fashioned finger coat hanger, I turned to a welcoming lady who looked at me warmly.

Oh dear, you got caught in the rain. Don’t worry though, you still look as pretty as a picture soaking wet.”

I smiled at the lady. She was perhaps mid 50’s with slightly purple tinged grey hair. She struck me as being as eccentric as her surroundings.

Thank you,” I said while scanning over the chalk blackboard on the wall.

I tried to choose swiftly not getting too distracted with all the hand drawn flowers and swirls. Just standing in this environment I felt like I was reconnecting with the inner child in me. All of a sudden I felt all warm and fluffy, and almost playful. I eyed an item on the menu curiously: lovingly baked triple chocolate surprise cookie, with raspberry sauce. Now you can see why the menu required a certain level of concentration.

A cookie with sauce.” That seemed a bit out there. I can’t say I have ever tried something like that before. It was the kind of thing you would make at home when you have an insatiable sweet craving. You open all the cupboards, and put raisins in icing and layer it on top of peanut butter covered digestives, at the hope that one of the bizarrely put together ingredients will combine into a taste sensation, and hit that illustrious spot.

So you’re going for my special cookie, huh? That one always gets everyone’s attention,” she proclaimed.

I also ordered a black coffee to warm me up, and to hopefully take the edge off the amount of sugar that was heading my way. I’m usually pretty good when it came to self restraint, but if you can’t treat yourself during an unexpected downpour, when can you, I reasoned.
I put thoughts in italics rather than quotation marks to distinguish them from regular dialogue

I wouldn’t often choose to walk into a café and sit down alone. I know it’s not an unusual thing to do, but sometimes that self conscious feeling takes over and I just feel like I have a huge ‘yes I’m alone’ billboard pointing down at me. But when I’m forced into these things, or I should say, when things are unexpected, they are sometimes more manageable. Why is that? I pondered to myself, whilst watching people dart past the window avoiding growing puddles.

I felt the presence of the friendly purple haired stranger approach me before she was in my line of vision. She seemed to emulate a radiance of happiness and care, which was very welcoming. She placed the exciting looking creation down on the table and gladly topped up my coffee. I heard myself offering before I could even think.

“Would you like to join me, it’s quiet in here and maybe you are overdue a coffee break?” The lady smiled looking genuinely humbled. “Do you know, that sounds lovely.”

She grabbed a mug and pulled up the chair next to me. I don’t know what propelled me to invite her to join me. I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, and for once I was actually content just sitting alone, but something hugely familiar yet intriguing made me want to be in this lady’s company. I think she sensed my mild fascination in her, and I could see her eyeing me almost as curiously.

So you’re a new face,” she said. I never forget my customers and I know you haven’t been here before.”

I didn’t even realise this café was here” I replied “Is it new?”

Almost spluttering out her coffee, she coughed and smiled, amused by what I had asked.

“No it’s not new, I’m perhaps one of the oldest shops in this town.”

So how come somewhere as quaint as this is so quiet? It’s even raining out which usually means the most awful of places pull in crowds. Not that here is awful,” I added hastily.

The lady still smiling simply said, “oh we do get busy, but some days are meant to be quiet; it allows time for other things.”

How curious an answer. I thought. Almost mysterious, like it had an undertone to its meaning. Cutting off my dithering thoughts the lady encouraged me. “You should eat that cookie whilst it’s still warm.”

Warm?” The cookie was served in a small v shaped bowl. Its size allowed it to sit half way down the bowl almost like a cap, with the warm raspberry sauce pooled on top and a grazing of fresh chocolate curls. Realizing this cookie wasn’t the kind you pick up and take a bite of, I instinctively crashed my spoon into the center, shattering the cookie into a surprising pool of whipped cream. This was more than a treat. This cookie was like the Aladdin’s cave of cookies, a real delight that gave you a little buzz whilst eating it. Not to mention the blend of 3 different chocolate chunks melting lovingly on my tongue as I savored each mouthful. Divine seemed too dull a word to describe this treat.

Mmm,” I heard myself say. “Did you make this yourself?” I asked.

Of course my dear, it’s been a bit of a passion of mine for years now, as you can tell.” She gently patted her stomach, in appreciation more than in embarrassment.

You know, I have always loved the rain, it's very cleansing and refreshing. It’s amazing what a good storm can do to lift the spirit.”

Almost sensing the irony I related to her words, the lady went on to talk, whilst I contentedly listened. 

The End

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