Caffeine and Lithium – A Short story

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I walked into my haven, a classic under rated coffee shop just a block away from my home it was my second home in a way. Whatever the day had to offer, I made sure I ended my day in this little Coffee Shop. It was a fitting place to spend the “me time”, relaxing my time off. In fact when I paid the $1.65 for my medium coffee, I not only bought me a cup of freshly brewed coffee, but also some time for myself. That’s one of the reasons I visit this place so often, and then the ever smiling Adriana. She worked there, she was pretty, intelligent, buzzing with energy. Her immaculate smile made my day, technically it made my Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She worked there part-time.

Friday, it was pretty demanding Friday, arranging, organizing, and completing the left over tasks of the week. I walked up to place my order, she was there smiling, amused that she could serve me. I placed my order, a medium coffee. “How would you like it?” she asked.

“2 creams and 1 sugar” I replied.

She quickly pulled out a paper cup to make my coffee, “In a mug, please” I muttered.

I was furious it was probably the zillionth time that I had requested her to make my coffee in a mug. The lasting thing I want on a tiresome day is my coffee in a paper cup. She had a grin on her face every time, she did that knowingly.  I always thought it was her lame attempt to strike a conversation with me. If so, she never succeeded.

I took my coffee to the table. It was a bad day for me. It’s been exactly one year since Cathy left me. I put my head down, isolating myself in a noisy coffee shop. Forgetting her was the bane of my life. The time I spent with Cathy was probably the most exciting thing that happened to me. She made me cry with laughter, she made me look stupid but also reminded me I was intelligent. She made me stronger but helped me realise my weaknesses. All that had ended, she was here no more. She was with me I cannot recall from when. She walked with spent time with and started percolating in me, and so brewed into a fine relationship. Every step I took it was firmer, ever thought purer, every dream larger, every sleep sounder, everyday like no other. The only short coming, I drowned into that moment never willing to move ahead. I had an unknown fear, fear more than love, more than lust, more than happiness. Now   I feel lonely without her, it was as if I had to face all the ordeals myself.

What lead to this? It was just 30minutes.

Someone patted on my shoulder, it was Adriana. “Is everything alright?” she asked. I was already too carried away to respond to her. “We are closing” she said. I looked at my watch knowing that it has been dead for almost a year now I don’t know why I glanced at my dead watch. I looked at my coffee it was cold. I looked at her she smiled and indicated

“Your watch is dead!”

“Oh..”  I pretended that I didn’t know.

“Your watch has been dead for months now, probably from the very first day when I remember seeing you”.

She pulled a chair opposite to me “What’s wrong?” she enquired.

I kept looking at my watch it almost made me burst into tears. She looked me in the eye and said “it is okay” as if she knew what I was going through. She placed her comforting hand on my hands.

“Your coffee is getting cold!” she said. I looked at the coffee, took a sip its bitterness showed on my face. She smiled.

“Why don’t you change the batteries on your watch?”

“It’s been exactly a year” I replied. My girlfriend gave it to me. She set it 30 minutes fast, because every time she invited me somewhere I was 30 minutes late.

Adriana was curious “What happened?”

I honestly don’t have an answer, why was I late to meet her?  Was I busy with work?  I don’t know. I just feel, it was my fault.

“Did you love her?” she asked.

“Yes!”

If there was one thing that I could change in my life it would be that I wanted to be 30 minutes early every time I met her.

“What is that got to do with replacing batteries?” “Then why don’t you replace the batteries?”

I looked down, “it’s complicated”.

She came back “I am quite sure it is not as complicated as knowing you”

I quickly drank my cold coffee, it was horrible. And then I bid goodbye to her. As I walked back home I realised, It was comforting indeed to share my feelings with Adriana. She at least knew what most people don’t.   I realised that she has always trying to be helpful, but it was me who was negligent.

Wednesday, I walked into the coffee shop placed my order, she was there more excited than usual, and she made my coffee this time in a mug, without any request.  She had a notorious grin on her face thorough out. I just picked up my coffee and left. I placed my coffee in the table with the help of the overhead lamp I saw a small shiny object on my saucer. It was a lithium battery for my watch. I looked at her. She gave me assuring smile. As if she had solved all my problems. She came over, “replace it!” she whispered in my ear and walked away. May be it was time that I did that. She was very watchful, I somehow found a way to open the bottom of my watch, and I carefully replaced the batteries on my watch. It instantly sprang into action, it was perfect! It somehow felt better, may be it was just a placebo effect. My eyes went searching for Adriana, I wanted to thank her. Someone patted on my shoulder, it was her. She whispered “move on” and walked away. I started thinking back may be she was right I must move on, get a life for myself. After all it was so simple; it was only my head in the way. I looked at her, she smiled. I was happy, uplifted, something has changed in me. I was lost in time my coffee was still in my table cold, again.

I looked at watch it was already 11.00 pm. Time to close the shop. She walked up to me and said “We are Clo…” I lifted my wrist proudly and showed the watch.

She smiled, “At last” she said.

“Thank you” I said. She looked at me she came over sat next to me this time.

“Alright?” she asked, I smiled. And now I realised we were alone. The others had left. She was holding my hand and we started talking. She came closer to me, her breath breezed on my face, and it felt strangely familiar and familiarly strange. Holding her hand amidst her breath she looked me in the eye. Suddenly it struck me I had to be early in the office tomorrow. I excused myself I reluctantly had to bid her goodbye to her. She was disappointed and so was I.

“Goodbye” she said softly. We parted.

Friday, I had to wait a whole day to meet her. I could possibly never take her out of my mind the whole time.  I was more than excited to meet her today. May be she was the solution. I felt so much better after the other night I felt I was dead, buried and resurrected. After work today, I walked straight to the coffee shop, briskly walked up to place my order. It was a bald man in his mid 30’s there. I was perplexed. “How may I help you?” He asked.

“Adriana?”

“Who?”

“the gi- girl who used to work here” I stuttered.

“The girl, she left the job and has moved over to London, I’m her replacement” He answered. I was devastated. I quietly place my order. All my hopes came crumbling down. I took my coffee placed it on the table. I was sitting there unaware of my existence. I looked at my watch, it was working fine. I sat there unable to digest my disappointment, time seem to have evaporated. I rested my head on the table. Now I was trying to connect the dots, it was her last day, it was her last goodbye. What if I had noticed her before? What if I had spoken to her earlier?  What if I had expressed my desire that night, would she be here? There were streams of questions in my mind.

Someone patted on my shoulder, it was the bald guy, “we are closing” he said and walked away. I looked my working watch it was 11.00 pm, I looked beside at my coffee mug, and again my coffee got cold. I sipped my cold coffee its bitterness stung my tongue. Just then I realised the bitter truth.

“I have never had my coffee hot”

THE END

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