Thulasie Bai Manoharan, 20, considers herself to be an old soul who is attracted to mysterious things. She binge-watches “Friends”, over and over again, and has an obsession of collecting words and phrases. Thulasie is studying Architecture, Comparative Lit and French.
The following is her winning piece of the Octopus With A Quill (O.W.A.Q.) creative writing contest in the Flash Fiction category, on theme, Coffee Tales.
It was 9:00 am and I waited like I normally did every Sunday morning for Pierre to open up the cafe. Being a coffee aficionado, I had scouted every street of New York in search of the best coffee, and nothing truly beats Pierre’s traditional ways. Not only was his coffee great, Pierre himself was a jolly old man, with a very contagious, hearty smile. He was like the caffeine Saint Nicholas of New York.
Pierre approached the door and ushered me into the cafe with a smile on his face. I walked in as quickly as possible trying to escape the winter air and immediately nuzzle into a warm, cozy spot at the far back of the cafe.
The cafe was small, but it had a homely feel to it, the same kind of feeling you get when you see your mother baking an apple pie in the kitchen. As Pierre brewed the first cup of coffee, the aroma of roasted beans enveloped the entire cafe. Minutes later, he showed up with a cup of coffee and madeleine on a saucer. He pulled up the chair next to me and said:
“You know Roman, my grandmama used to tell me the first brew of coffee you have for the day will always open your eyes to the depths of magic in the world. She called it her cup of wonderment. That woman was rarely wrong, my boy!”
As Pierre left the table and headed for the kitchen, I thought about the depths of magic and wonderment. The idea of a cup of coffee cooking up magic amused me. Nevertheless, I sipped my coffee with delightful satisfaction and began reading my book.
The little bell above the cafe door went ‘DING’, indicating someone’s arrival. I paid no attention as my eyes trailed along the words on the pages. Being a New Yorker, you eventually learn the art of tuning out elaborate sounds around you.
But suddenly, I was leaping out of my senses, as I heard this smooth, silky voice place an order at the counter. I couldn’t help but look up and find a girl with short hair that embodied her head like waves in the ocean, dark, deep brown eyes that laid behind round thick-framed glasses, while clutching a book in her arms. She looked like character ripped out from an R.L.Stine novel, beautiful yet intriguing. She pulled up a chair three tables from mine, looked my way, giving me a slight nod of acknowledgement and a delicate smile, then settled down to her book and coffee.
For the next three consecutive Sundays, I saw the very same girl. Each week, she grew more intriguing and lovely. We would sit in Pierre’s cafe, submerged in the aroma of coffee beans, in silence before the cafe filled for the day. In the moments of silence and heavy reading, although we never spoke, every time our eyes met, my heart would flutter. Something about these moments felt magical, like planets were perfectly aligned in a peripheral dimension.
Until one Sunday morning, I awoke to a loud bang outside on the streets. I groggily looked at the time on my phone. It was 11:45 am!!! I was late!
I rushed out of bed, brushed my teeth in a hurry, scavenged my closet for decent looking clothes and hastily put on my shoes. A sad, nagging feeling came upon me as I made my way down the apartment stairs. It felt as if I would never see her again, that I didn’t know her name or her number, it felt like a sinking black hole had made its way into the pit of my stomach.
I knew these thoughts were completely absurd, but over the past couple of weeks I grew to love the small, wordless connections I had made with this mystery girl. It was these little things that made me anticipate the wonderful things to come.
I walked, my footsteps falling hard on the sidewalk. Cussing the wind, I felt my cheeks red hot despite the frosty winter air. I barge into Pierre’s cafe like a deranged lunatic looking for the next victim. The cafe was busy and there were people spanning out every inch of the floor. I looked everywhere, but it felt like my eyes were failing me.
“Overslept my boy?”
From behind the counter Pierre walked up to me smiling shooting me a wink and said, “Only one spot left”, pointing me in the direction where a perfectly poised creature sat, knee deep in a book.
She was there at the far back of the cafe, the very spot I use to sit at. Smiling back at Pierre, I made my way to the table, and then interrupting her I asked:
“Would it be okay if I sat here?”
Now looking up at me, with a smile that somewhat indicated that she was glad to see me, she replied, “It would be a pleasure!”
We were two people at the table, with two cups of wonderment, as Pierre’s grandmama called them and a whole lot of time to fill with endless conversation. That was the beginning of a whole new wonderful adventure which all began in a little place called Pierre’s Cafe.
Editor’s Notes: Owing to the simplicity of the story, outstanding narration, and role that coffee played in the story, Thulasie’s entry has been chosen for the upcoming book, Coffee Tales.
If you’d like to see your story in that book, don’t hesitate to contact us.