The Coffee Shop

A girl takes a walk on a rainy day in San Francisco.

The door of the coffee shop creaked open with a prominent squeak, but the five or so people in the coffee shop didn't seem to notice. She ordered a coffee, no sugar, no milk, and sat down at the small, sticky table. It was one of those neighborhood coffee shops, the kind that was cozy but perpetually empty. The barista called out her order in a tired voice, and she retrieved it duly, blowing gently on it. 

 

The bitter aroma of the coffee was irresistible, but she burned her tongue as soon as she sipped it. She crinkled the newspaper, looking at the other people in the coffee shop on an insignificant rainy Sunday. Two people sat on the comfy looking couch, discussing something quietly, she couldn't quite make out what they were saying. A rather lost looking woman, (perhaps in her mid-thirtes?) read a magazine of some sort with a brightly colored cover, coughing every so often, as if to call attention to herself. One person with thick, blocky glasses frames read what looked like a manuscript, crossing out various things with pen and mumbling to himself. Another person sat with him, looking half asleep as they ate their cinnamon twist.

 

She stirred her coffee absentmindedly, reading an article about the economy but thinking about Italy. She had been there once when she was younger, and she had liked it very much. The streets were mostly cobblestones that had been worn to a smooth finish, and the alleyways were filled with clotheslines. The language was rhythmic and flowing. She had only been there for two weeks, in Rome, but she still remembered it. She took a huge gulp of her coffee, which had cooled down to a more pleasant temperature. She rumpled her newspaper noisily as she searched for a new article to read. She felt like she was in a play, waiting for a new character to come in, or something dramatic to happen. There was a certain poetry to sitting in the tiny coffee shop, with the five costumers, and the two bored baristas discussing their love lives, and the quiet rhythm of the rain falling outside. Her throat felt a little sore, and she downed another gulp of the warm coffee to satisfy it. The scene would have been quite comforting, if she had been free. A sick, trapped feeling rose in her stomach and she crumpled her empty coffee cup, tossed it in the trash. She exited the coffee shop, pulling her coat tighter around her. 

 

The sidewalk was mostly wet, and when the occasional car went by, the lights shined on the wet ground. She walked up the hill calmly, not minding the wetness. Her hair got periodically wetter, forming into thick, dripping clumps. She exhaled noisily trying to get rid of the burning feeling in the back of her throat. A cop car cruised by as she reached a rather busier intersection, but it made no move to stop. There were no sirens or flashing lights. The adrenaline that had coursed through her veins died down, and she breathed deeply. She passed a cute clock repair shop, and peered in the window of the store, trying to make out the clocks in the dimly lit store. For some reason the store made her sad. The shop was probably never open.

 

She continued walking, pulling her trench coat more tightly around herself as she strolled past the a particularly large house, and sat down at the bus stop. She didn't know where the bus was going, but she really didn't care. The overhang shielded her from the rain, which was letting up a bit. She reached into the pockets of her coat, hoping to find bus fare, and not finding much; a crumpled reciept, a peppermint candy, two quarters and her wallet.

 

She ate the peppermint and let the the minty taste dissolve in her mouth, removing the bitter aftertaste of the coffee. The bus chugged to a stop after five minutes, and she slid the two dollars for her MUNI fare into the slot.

 

The bus was nearly empty, and she sat down in a plastic molded seat with a good view of the tree-lined street. The bus creaked away from the curb, and she let her thoughts wander for the bus ride, thinking of soup and halloween and other things that rainy days reminded her of. 

 

It was one of those odd times between meals, but she felt rather hungry all the same. For a couple minutes, she fantasized about getting a sesame seed bagel, toasted and slathered with cream cheese. Then she remembered that she had exactly $10.63 in her wallet, and she needed to save it. Her thoughts, however, drifted back to fantasies of food. A warm brownie with chocolate chips on top. A warm crepe with tomatoes, gooey mozzarella, and basil. She continued in this vein of thought for a while, until a shout brought her back to reality. "You better not be serious? It's a ripoff! Tell him if he wants the original, he's got to pay more than thirty six." A young twenty-something with very short hair and large, expensive looking sunglasses- they were Prada- screeched into her iPhone, waving a dollar at the driver. The driver tried to explain that she needed two dollars for bus fare, and she had to place the money in the slot, but she was too busy yelling. Eventually she just handed him the money, and the bus pulled away from the curb. The woman, -who, she gathered, was talking to someone named Elise- sat down with her fur trimmed coat pulled tightly around her, still talking rudely on her phone. 

 

She threw a glare at the obnoxious woman, and took the chance to get off the bus at the next stop. She stepped out onto the gum-spotted curb, where she noticed that the rain was gone, replaced by a light, almost unnoticeable dirzzle. The air smelled good, like it always did after a rain. It was almost an earthy smell, like the rain had washed away all the smog and exhaust, leaving the air fresh and clean. She was going to walk to the grocery store on the corner, and maybe get a chocolate bar, or a bag of chips, but she was suddenly overcome by a sudden dizziness, a tiredness. She sat down at the bus stop, pressing her face against the scratched plastic, waiting for this to end. "You okay?" A cool voice asked. 

 

It was one of those businessmen, the  clean-shaven, cute ones who carry Blackberries and talk on bluetooths. "Yeah, fine." She answered shortly, not really wanting to say much. 

 

He walked off, chattering on his bluetooth. She slumped in her seat, yawning. This whole thing- this whole day exhausted her. She just wanted to go home and curl up under the covers. But, she sternly reminded herself, home is off- limits.

 

Her cell phone interrupted this train of thought. She pulled it out absemtmindedly, then thought better of it. She got up, walking toward the corner. The tiredness she had felt just a minute ago evaporated as the rain returned again. She just continued walking, feeling the rain soak into her coat. She walked unconciously back toward the apartment, although she knew she'd have to turn back before she got there. 

 

Another cop car rolled by, and even as she recognized the stupidity of her actions, she waved her hands, trying to attract attention. The car pulled over, the officer stuck his head out. "Ya got a problem?"

 

She was tempted to lie, but couldn't think of anything. "I, um, I'm a suspect in a murder case.... I think they're looking for me."

 

The officer looked at her, trying to decide if she was lying. "Well, get on in. I'll take ya to the nearest station." 

 

There was somewhat of an awkward silence as he drove toward the station. The cop cleared his throat. "So... who died?"

 

"My landlady. She found in the hallway." 

 

"I gotta say," He swerved to avoid a school bus. "You don't seem like a murderer."

 

She looked at him. He had very thick bushy eye brows, which were knitted together in concentration.

 

"It's always the one's you least suspect, though, innit?" He continued. "Everyone who's read a Nancy Drew knows that."

 

She wasn't quite sure what to say to that. "I suppose so. It isn't evidence that I ran away, though, right?

 

"Depends." He pulled to a stop in front of the station. "Want me to escort you in?" 

 

She shook her head and emerged into the rain, which was heavier now, coming down in thick sheets. "Thanks."

 

She turned around and walked into the station

The End

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