The Calm of the Coffee Shop
by James Parker
The wind caught the scent of the bakery across the street and pulled it back to the coffee shop. Along with it came the falling of leaves from the surrounding trees and the chattering of nearby people. Birds’ chirping was occasionally audible, usually when there was a gap in the passing of cars.
Large, thick umbrellas stuck through the center of the tables, which each had matching black chairs. The metal rails forming the beautiful chairs maneuvered around themselves in a most exquisite fashion. The bars weaved in and out, spiraling around other rails. On the occasional table rested a cup or two and a few pairs of arms or hands. Sometimes a purse would be set on the table as well, in hopes to better protect it from the ants.
The preoccupied bugs scuttled between gaps in the pathway’s small, cobble-like bricks, running into crumbs and into other insects. With the dirty red bricks neatly tiled along the side of all the buildings, the ants had plenty of terrain to explore. After they stroked the antennas of a fellow ant a few times over, the communication ceased and they were once again on their way.
The humans, however, were not so friendly; they paid no attention to their neighbors. The only world that existed was that which involved them directly. They expected the sky to bow to them and believed they alone owned even Time itself. Their heads were all held high, and those who walked kept their steps to quick but comfortable strides. It was almost as if an aura of egotism resounded from their entire beings. All that mattered was the conversation on each of their cell phones or their getting to their personal destinations. It did not matter if the rest of the world were to explode ― so long as their little district remained unaffected, all was fine. Such is the nature of those with money to spare.
This was the wealthiest neighborhood in the area. It did not limit itself to simple coffee houses and bakeries. It also had walls separating it from the rest of the world. The village-like neighborhood was so self-sufficient that it even had its own bank. The residents had much more money than the average person ― and everyone knew it. It was this knowledge that led these residence to having ever-expanding egos.
When they were not rushing by, some of the people sat in the handsome, intertwining chairs outside the coffee shop. One woman drank a café mocha while pushing a stroller back and forth. At another table sat a woman who refused to put down her phone. The moment she hung up with one person, another would call her, or she would begin dialing seven more digits. A man at a third table had only his backpack and homework to keep him company. Eventually the noise of two teenagers caused him to move inside in the coffee shop.
The teenage boy sat facing the building, and the girl with her back to it. In each set of eyes shone a twinkle of affection. Their loud voices and echoing laughter caused them to stand out from the peaceful surroundings. Their appearance did not help them to blend in either. While the other people were nicely dressed and looked very presentable, the two teenagers were ragged and casual. It was obvious they did not live in this neighborhood with everyone else, but rather were simply enjoying the fine products of the coffee house.
At an age of about sixteen, the boy had dark, curly hair and a happy grin. He wore a loose, black t-shirt. On the shirt near his left shoulder, three sabers formed a triangle, touching handle to tip. Along the blades read the words, “Lafayette Fencing Club.” Sitting in an awkward Indian-style position, the boy had on khaki pants with random zippers. The girl reached over to discover the zippers’ purpose, but was left disappointed when she realized they had none; they were simply decoration.
She sat back into her chair and glanced down at her own pants ― simple blue jeans. Her companion’s pants with pointless zippers were much more interesting than her own. The red designs on her midnight blue shirt caused the eyes to follow from the bottom to the top. The ends of her partially buttoned flannel shirt danced in the wind, as did her wavy, saddle brown hair. With every compliment she received from the boy, she swirled her strawberry smoothie and darted her eyes to the right. No beauty in the world, he would explain, could add up to that of hers.
What he neglected to notice was the beauty around them both. The soft breeze dragging itself through the hair of the women and the leaves of the trees, the quiet zoom of each car passing over the nearby bridge, the strong scent of coffee and a bakery that would ensnare their senses, the brightly-colored birds that darted about in manners that almost seemed to be a dance ― all of these factors came together to form the most beautiful setting the boy and girl had seen in a long time. Though they were not wealthy, the teenagers’ worlds revolved only around themselves.
And the coffee shop was left to stand magnificent and ignored by all for whom it cared and served.