"Okay, tell me the story, then," Mary said.
"No, it's better that I show you. You wouldn't believe me if I just told you."
I started off almost running, but I slowed up when we got to the block where I'd found the little Cupcakes and Cappuccinos café. We circled the block three times, but we still couldn't find it. I stopped suddenly in confusion, and she walked right into my back.
"Hey, watch where you're going," I said as I turned to face her in irritation.
"I would if you would. At least give me some warning if you're going to stop," she huffed. Are you sure it's this block?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. It was nestled right in between that ancient stone chapel, and that equally ancient brick millinery store."
"Who buys handmade hats anymore? The rich and famous maybe, but not most people. Anyway, there's nothing between the hat store and the chapel but that hedge and rose bushes, as you can see. If I didn't know you better, I'd think you'd been smoking some wacky weed, or you were drunk to the point of hallucination, but that's not like you at all. Anyway, this has been an exercise in futility. I have to meet my boyfriend downtown, so I'm going to skip out on you now. I'll call you later this evening. Good luck on your café hunting." Mary headed on up the street with a smile and a quick wave.
I sighed and watched her turn the corner. I must have chosen the wrong block. I'm usually good about directions, but obviously not that good. I decided I might just as well head home, nuke up a package of popcorn and wallow in self pity about the end of my relationship with Steve. I still hadn't told him that I was no longer his Honey-on-the-side. I was inexplicably drawn to look to my right, where I expected to see the hedge and roses, but they weren't there anymore.
The quaint little coffee shop was right where I'd told Mary it was. I shook my head and closed my eyes. I must be seeing things. I opened one eye slowly, peeking under the lashes, wondering if it had disappeared. Nope, it was still there! This was beyond weird. I suppose I should have been scared, but I wasn't. I strode purposely toward the solid oak door of the entrance. When I walked in, an antique brass bell chimed sweetly above my head. Hmmm. I hadn't noticed that before, but I had been running from the rain the last time I'd been here.
I looked around the room and saw that the round oak tables and carved oaken chairs were the same. The highly polished and artistically carved bar with the antique register was still there. What was different, was that the place wasn't empty anymore. Several of the tables were filled with patrons who were dressed as though they had just come from a costume party. Some of the ladies wore huge intricately created hats. Some of the men wore morning coats and stovepipe hats. One man wore a suit of armor! I gasped in surprise, just as the lady with purple hair walked toward me with a steaming cup of coffee, and a bowl of cookie and raspberry sauce.
"Hello Annabelle, nice to see you again," she said, as I fainted to the floor in the doorway.