It’s a day for turned up collars and hurried footsteps, strained of color and filled with the silent noise of clattering thoughts. I can’t tell if it’s everyone or just me, but the air is too loud with pressing need, too still with expectation, too far away to reach, and too close to ignore.
I need a cup of coffee.
There’s a coffee shop at most street corners, but they are only just that. Coffee shops.
If, however, you turn down Fairy Ring Street and turn right into the alley between Oak Stump shop and Dancing Lights bookstore, you’ll find yourself stepping inside the Will-O’-Wisp Coffeehouse.
I’m already stepping over the threshold. The smell of freshly ground coffee with a hint of hazelnut and chocolate fills my head, already putting a damper to all the noise inside. Just enough that I can read the menu without the words bouncing straight back out again.
Fairy lights float overhead, a few of them lowering to settle in my hair. They can always sense darkened and muddled places, and it is their nature to draw close and give them light, even if such places are in the mind and they can’t quite reach. They are endearing and warm and lightweight, so that even the most fragile could bear them.
So that even I, worn down by a crowded mind, could feel their light.
The menu is written in swirling calligraphy until you try to read it, and suddenly it’s in large printed letters that anyone could read. There is black coffee roasted in dragon fire, and my best friend Kandy swears it fills her with the strength of a stone fortress. I tried it once; all I felt was a bit straighter, a bit grounded, and a bit more ready to take on a week of little responsibilities that chip away until I’m bent to the ground.
There are steamers, flavored with the comfort of a crackling hearth, the peace of falling rain, the softness of down-feather beds, and the warmth of newly dried laundry.
There are teas, steeped in the golden leaves of soothing rest, the emerald leaves of stable breathing, the silver leaves of gentle waking, and the obsidian leaves of strengthened systems.
And then there are the specialty coffees, mixed with steamed creams and a shot of something more. These are my usual orders. There’s shots of clarity, wakefulness, courage, patience, memory, forethought, and whimsy. Up to two shots allowed per drink, any more than that and they can’t be held responsible for any bouts of hallucinations, excessive dancing, or sudden disappearances.
Today I order a double shot of clarity, with whipped dreams on top. The price is split as far as payment, with the majority of the cost standing in dollar amounts, but the tax is charged in secrets and rhymes, stories and daydreams, memories and laughter. I place the bills on the counter and tell the cashier the dumbest pun I know. I hadn’t realized I could recall one until now.
A fairy light drifts from my hair to chase the shadow under my hand. I hear the sound of steaming cream, dripping coffee, and the soft chatter of others around me. I sit down at a cherry wood table, vines of ivy wrapping up its legs.
It’s a day for relaxed shoulders and a slowed pace, looking for shades of color and sorting through a scattering of thoughts. I cannot bear everything at once. I was not made to.
It’s a day for a good cup of coffee.