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SHORT STORIES

6. Porcelain

I ordered a coffee. Didn’t really want much. It was an espresso. I had ended up in a small, brown artisanal coffee-house after walking to clear my head. From one room to another. I was supposed to meditate earlier, but I said I’d do it later. The constant phone notifications wouldn’t exactly let me forget. I stood to the right side of the counter, beside the pastries, surveying the barista making my coffee as politely as possible. It wasn’t exactly covert in hindsight — just a guy looking up and down from his phone. I’d already picked a seat on the sofa by the wall, close to the window. After bringing my drink there, I laid my left shoulder, with all my body weight, upon the glass window pane — letting the window-frost cool my face. I’d been overthinking lately so there I was: Overheating. I looked around to see all the other people who had nothing else to do that day. People laughing, people talking; Some reading, some working and some minding their own business. The beauty of earphones. All whilst two floating aprons hovered around, clearing tables in the background. I dragged my chin back over my shoulder, scanning the coffee shop: Groups of bohemian art students on the right, two roughly twenty-somethings on what seemed like a date on the mid-right, an elderly couple dressed like twenty-somethings flanking them on their left, while on the mid-left: a girl reading a book with headphones on, and to the far-left: a litter of what-seemed-to-be introverted bookworms. Bohemian in nature too, it seemed. Before I resumed loitering, I quickly rose my head — checking to see if anyone had interrupted themselves to notice how weird I was being. They had not. But as a side note: I had never seen so much leather, oak, and ambient lighting in one space ever in my life. Artisanal coffee to pay for an artisanal commune, genius of a scam. I wish I’d thought of it. No tickets to pay for, just the choice of coffee or awkward looks from part-time graphic designers. But anyway, I sipped my coffee. Slurping with my tongue, hugging onto the underbelly of the porcelain cup, as I vacuumed the hot beverage in the most European fashion I could embody. I then sat, just staring at the pavement outside — my heavy head grailed into my right hand, staring at oblivion, letting my thoughts pass me by. I thought for a while. Just silent, contemplating. Staring at my coffee. It was all a dead man’s game now: I had fled towards the metaphysical planes, and I was already there. I sipped my coffee some more but there wasn’t much left. It was slowly getting colder and heavier, morphing, degrading, degenerating, and I could see the coffee stains ring the inside of the white porcelain coffee cup. Here I was: Lost in translation. And yet, I still had to go home and face my demons.

Some time passed by, and conversations would brush my ear, cars would brush my left eye’s vision. Ambient noise would complement the dimming ambient lights. At this point, other thoughts continued to plague my mind instead of my own. I sat by the window as I watched the rainfall – blank, vacant, but clear at least. I sat doing nothing — somehow awkwardly; Sitting at a four-chair table, alone. Sipping at my cold coffee for twenty-second intervals. The humming of the food fridge played bass to the shop’s shit Spotify playlist. The coffee maker machines followed in accordance. And in my blank stare, my mind allowed in a retrospective of the small but unfortunate events that led me here. Shit. A cultivation and collaboration of mildly disastrous happenings leading towards hopelessness, pain, and confusion. Great… Now abstracted, I stared, at the coffee cradled in my hand. I remembered waking up – No hot water. Checking the meter – No hot water. Canceling my day – No hot water. Wanting to walk down to the coffee shop because – No hot water. Each level just weighed me down and brought other issues with them. Dragging me down lower and lower, deeper and deeper until I couldn’t stay there anymore, otherwise I’d drown. All-of-a-sudden I woke up. I raised my head violently, whipping my head left and right to see if anyone had noticed me daydreaming. Luckily not. My banality kept me camouflaged. I scratched the back of my head, unaware of the floating sweater vests coming in and out in front of me. The mud in my cup had gone cold: I officially had no place there now. I looked out of the window again, staring at the cold evening sky. Just staring. Blue with golden twinkles. I was ogling at the powerlines hanging in the foreground. The birds fluttered in the background, and the clouds dressed beyond. Distracted in observation, my brain faded, suspended in absence. Pungent in emotion, my heart took this chance to speak, bringing forth dreams and movies to my eyes. The bastard… In clarity, I read the questions posed as problems and saw the hints to the code. Problem by problem I unveiled a letter.

I…

I…

I-d-o…

I-d-o-n-t-k-n-o-w…

I-d-o-n-t-k-n-o-w-w-h-a-t-I-m-d-o-i-n-g.

click

A door opened.

door opens

I-d-o-n-t-k-n-o-w-w-h-e-r-e-I-m-g-o-i-n-g?…

click

I-d-o-n-t-f-e…

I-d-o-n-t-f-e-e…

I-d-o-n-t-f-e-e-l…l-i-k-e-I-h-a-v-e-a-n-y-c-o-n-t-r-o-l.

I didn’t.

click

I-d-o-n-t-f-e-e-l-l-i-k-e-I-h-a-v-e-a-n-y-c-o-n-t-r-o-l.

I-d-o-n-t-f-e-e-l-l-i-k-e-I-h-a-v-e-a-n-y-c-o-n-t-r-o-l…

That one was hard. It took me a good minute to realise.

I…

I…

I-d-o-n-t-f-e-e-l-l-i-k-e-I-h-a-v-e-a-n-y-c-o-n-t-r-o-l-o-v-e-r-m-y-l-i-f-e…

CLICK

This was all a shock to me. I had no idea what my heart was trying to tell me; It was encoded. All I knew was: I was getting to know myself for once.

But there was still something left to the puzzle.

I would come to realise that I was afraid that I wouldn’t become the person I wished to end up being, and I’d, instead, become a cog in the machine of a retail job for the rest of my life. But not before knowing why.

I-m-t-o-o-s-c-a-r-e-d-t-o-t-a-k-e-r-i-s-k-s.

I-m-t-o-o-s-c-a-r-e-d-t-o-t-a-k-e-r-i-s-k-s!

OKAY!!!

I-m-t-o-o-s-c-a-r-e-d-t-o-t-a-k-e-t-h-e-r-i-s-k-s-n-e-c-e-s-s-a-r-y-t-o-a-c-h-i-e-v-e-m-y-d-r-e-a-m-s!

ARE YOU HAPPY?!

click

The last door opened.

I walked through.

“Oh my fucking God…”

Holy shit.

I..

Sigh

I-m-w-o-r-r-i-e-d-I-m-i-g-h-t-f-a-i-l…

And there it was: My reason.

Nothing else was needed, all my questions had been answered.

The porcelain had cracked.

All that was left to ask was:

What do I do now?

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