Cafe shop (ongoing) – (updated 16.08.2021)

Cafe shop

There is a lot of different things


Part 1

In my head. There is no place I can hide the words my mind are still creating. Step by step, the thoughts are coming in and out. I catch and let them go, sometimes write them and forget. The words I forgot are incredible and powerful, but I couldn’t remember why and what is really in between of them. 

I used to say that life is simple. It was looked like that and I thought that as in the school diary everything I want just need to be planned and done. I used to think that I need to be a good person that people love me; to have a good job, to be respected; to be a good friend and husband and son and neighbor in order to people be aware of any kind of my actions and be always fine around. I didn’t like to cross any borders. I wanted to be invisible and be recognized at once, as a good and model, some kind of ideal character from non-existing book and nothing more. 

But step by step, the illusions was continuing to crash on the floor as mirror glasses. Looks like it was a mistake to think like that. Childish and very naive. I was growing up faster and faster. 

Life is not so beautiful. Even if my life never was an easy and sunny summer time holiday, I just imagined it could be better one day when I will become an adult. And as before it is still dangerous, cruel, troubled and not so easy at all. Everything is unclear, exhausted, misunderstood and interpret in other way, hard to believe, tiring and uncompleted. 

Life is like a fog road with broken lights, where you never know what will be on the next turn or a crossroad. And I had no hope that time: just was crawling around and looked for something meaningful, what I could keep and protect. And I think I didn’t believe in God, although I tried.

There is no need in Gods if you can’t believe in yourself.
What Do They Know? 
Do They Know Things?
Do I will someday have some simple things to appreciate, to be able to go ahead and just to live a life?

All we believe in is just our thoughts, we ourselves and our soul, which mixed inside of our body in different interpretation of previous combinations of our ancestors. Don’t want to think about the monkey stuff, but I suppose we all still fucking animals with nothing useful in the brain except the unstable emotions and fears with worries. But now my story just calm me down. 

I remember that time as it was yesterday and it makes me happy someway. And I don’t know why, but the whole season was like a music: slow, melody and sorrow, maybe a little bit as a melted bittersweet ice cream. The certainty that some favorite tunes can reduce anxiety as much as a massage just came to me once.  “Music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory” – said some Mr. Baker and I remembered that from some column in the internet and  still I don’t know why It stayed with me.

It started in the middle of the spring, when little birds begun to come to our veranda corner and play their games under the straight sun lights and wait the opening of the shop, where our kind cleaning lady, who came from the house on the other side of the street sometimes just gave them to eat the leftover bread crumbs and seeds from the kitchen.

My story is about a young child I was and a girl, who used to go to the cafe near my home, where I worked during the last course of my masters degree. 

While drinking coffee early in the morning she liked to watch in the window, especially in the rainy days. She liked to sit in the corner of the shop and watch as people cross the streets and hide their faces under big umbrellas. Someone told me that she was a first year student, about nineteen years old, but as a bartender, who was watching for her day by day, I never saw her with a single friend or with textbooks or studying something while chilling out in the cafe. I saw while sitting there she was doing nothing, though maybe has been listening to some music in the white little ears shells-pods or just was asleep. She closed her eyes, hugged her knees and just flew in her dreams, disappearing into the smell of the coffee floating in the air. 

I asked her name once with the smile, when was giving her order, but her face changed in a second and she became angry and sour. Faster took away her bag she left the place with the glass cup of a hot coffee and I did not have time to utter a single word to stop her or to call her back.

Next week or two she was avoided our place or me, what made me frustrated as I was rejected with no reason. My friend told me that found a glass one day on the doorstep. It was clear and wrapped in a paper bag without any single written word. I can’t say I left my efforts to understand the sense of staring through the windows and cancel all tries to know some facts about her in case she was needed a help or something. I just waited that she will return to her routine. 

Where were days when I was afraid she escaped and just go with the stream of her life to nowhere. I was afraid she will disappear one day and something bad will happen. She remind me of myself in the past and I started to be worried, I don’t know why, perhaps just wanted to advise against a bad choices she could make or in some way I liked her. 

Her early morning routine before that incident with the question about the name was like that: three days a week except weekends she waited near the shop already in 8 o’clock and when our cleaner was finishing her staff and opened the main door to wash the steps, the girl bowed silently to her and continued to wait for the 9 o’clock opening. Every time the coffee shop manager greeted her as a first-time visitor, as usual she pointed her finger at a large Americano, paid with her phone with face id, and picked a way to her already nest-like seat in a quiet corner by the window overlooking a big street which are overcrowded in a lunch time, the buildings of business centers, small stores and steps to the big Cathedral.

 She watched the flower shops opening and the first delivery people arrive at the neighborhood stores that start the work day at 11 o’clock. Then, before the noon, she opened her paper bag and get her sandwich, eat it, drink already a cold coffee and customary as a rule in twelve she was ready to leave the shop.

I thought she don’t need to study and shirk her classes just because they are boring and unnecessary. “Maybe she is a rich heirs of some celebrity parent or just a crazy one?” –  with my colleagues in the shop we smiled on her a couple of times and fancy up new theories but no one was able to know the truth till the day she came to us and show her little dark cover notebook.

It was Monday shift. Early spring. The new semester started and was going to be busy for some students. Every day our cafe was becoming more and more crowded. We saw her again, three days a week, from eight till twelve, during long three hours she was just sitting at her safety tiny table and stare at the street. Nothing special new or unordinary. The day as all the days before was started well and suppose to be normal as always. The routine of weekdays schedule, which was planned before and in advance. But that shabby little old diary of clumsy notes suddenly to all of us in that cafe, changed the whole course of events and make the intersection of destinies be twisted.

Leaving her cosy place, when we have served all the customers rushing to work or sitting quietly at the tables, this strange and meek creature had flown the nest, quietly sneaking up to the bar counter and set at a high chair. She opened the notebook and pointed her finger at the first inscription in it.

There was just two letters. Me and my colleague who were there at that time just exchange glances and asked: 
– Sorry. What that means? – When she looked at us as we were old and doom servants, hesitating a little bit, but pointed to her own face. It was her name. – She pulled a pen out of her pocket with a beautiful gold drawing on a black background of metal body, twirled the gold rim, and drew a plus sign between the letters with a mechanical pencil. 
– A+N
It was the pronunciation of two letters which together were her name, probably a short version of “Anna” which sounded almost like “Anne”, but clearly letting us know that this was not her full name and that her name was much longer, which we learned a little later. On the third time we got it and call her right, she nodded and turned the page.
– I’m muteness, but I need a job.
We were very much puzzled and first minutes just silenced. My colleague, who was the older man in his late 30’s, has a family with two little kids, looked at her with kind eyes and I recognize the look of inquiry.
– Can you hear us? – I reply first but all I could say was said by strange and vague voice whispered to her. But not a muscle flinched on her face and she flipped to the next page and pointed to the answer, which was prepared in advance.
– I’m not deaf, I just can’t speak.
– Ok. – I watched her in the eyes, but she didn’t respond, trying show herself as strong and independent, but actually was shy and frightened. There was something up to her and and I felt that inside my bones as electric impulses what was bitten my brain.
– Can help in the kitchen and to the clean lady in the morning. Know how you do coffee and how works the machine and all your schedule and the main menu and also all your constant buyers and what they prefer. 
All that was written in her diary before she came to us and we were surprised.
– You can pay me a minimum for an hour. I can work on weekends and holidays. But 3 days a week I have classes after noon and till the evening, that is why I wouldn’t be here on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after noon. 
– Do you have classes? – I had a thought that I started to understand our stupidity and lack of imagination. She turned another page.
– I study music in the conservatory and play in the Cathedral. 
The uni was up off the street. We watch at her and reflected on what was seemed to be normal and very explainable, but far from our old world of reality. She turned another page.
– If you will be able to get a piano, I can play for your customers sometimes.
But for the play I will ask more money.
We didn’t answer her and just told her to came as she usually do on Wednesday and that we will forward a message to the manager. She closed her little book and just bow her head a little and gone away. I thought just that music is no need words. 

Customers began to arrive at the pre-lunch hour and we got involved without discussing anything with my older colleague. Closer to four p.m. I called the manager and asked about a part-time job for a student. Coincidentally or not, it turned out that one of our young employees was about to leave at the end of the month and we could be glad to hire a new member of the team. He agreed to take her on next week, after interviewing her remotely. I responded by saying that there is some difficulties, but she is very responsible and motivated person, as some bullshit everyone says to get a job. After listening to me, he asked to give her his email and send the information and confirmation that she was not silent on purpose. Maybe he thought that hiring her we could get a tax reduction for a shop, anyway it was a little unethical, but I only agreed and hurried to change my colleague for an afternoon nap.

A week later she started her normal routine and was early as always, before us and like nothing happened in her life. Manager never saw her before hiring and when he came at the shop he didn’t understand that it was her, who can’t answer in response.

She worked from the beginning as a former worker and we supposed she has a secret, which manager knew and allow to work with this little disability. And she did really well. We thought that she can’t asked customers or answer them when they asked what to choose or about the differences in the menu dishes but one day, when we were busy and can’t help, which always was our duty, we saw her black diary at the checkout counter again. And a month later the whole shop started to be crowded early from the morning, because every student wanted to see the girl and her diary and asked the coffee which she will recommend by her notes. It was remarkable and fantastic and she was on the top of the game that manager even hired another student to help.

We wanted to ask about the secret out of idle curiosity, but as strange as it may seem, we just didn’t have enough time to relax and talk.

We heard from some students that in passing everyone spoke about An, discussing the choice of coffee she offered and how it suited them at the moment. When she was on study out of work shift, we observed fewer people and there were no lines formed as when she was needed leafing through her diary with notes or writing something on a piece of paper for a client. Someone even knew her from the Uni, but no one were aware to answer if we tried to ask something unobtrusively about her popularity.

Before the summer started, I chose the day and came to the shop before everyone. I knew it was unexpected. I was definitely an owl and knowing I need to go at work after night long studies was a pain. Every morning I was awake with red eyes, drunk a cup of brewed coffee by pouring hot water onto ground beans which I prepared myself, buying the same freshly ground beans from our shop vendor and put them in the grinder I needed to twist with the wooden handle yourself. Well, I steel do it as a relaxing exercises and the aroma from this process make me feel alive. Every time it helps.

So I did came first to find an answer. I was tormented by unknowing things about this girl, who write good work email, make amazing coffee and advice people something we all didn’t understand. I was not related to this secret and it was torture me, I think it’s fairer to say this way. Or maybe there was something else, but I was doubted and followed her steps and waited.

It was warm and sunny without any clouds. Birds flew and sat on a twigs of a trees, playing their songs with little salt wind from far yellow sea. Cleaning lady came after me and we chatted a little about so good weather, her grandchildren she was going to send on vacation for summer holiday to an aunt and how good the time which passing by. I helped her even if she was turning me down in order I did my own work. In a scrap of our nice conversation, she mentioned An, purely for no reason, without any background thought. She looked on me fast with one squinted eye and kind smile and told that I remind her of her by repeating the same thing after that girl. I laughed and tried to argue, but she wouldn’t listen and continued mopping the floor, retiring to the veranda in her own thoughts. 

An came ten minutes later. I thought so, but it was not her. With peripheral vision, I saw the same figure and silhouette, but while I was fiddling with the coffee machine, cleaning the filters and letting off steam from thin spout for whipping milk, the person approached the bar table and greeted me with a clear and strong voice.

I scared for a second and turned my head. It was a woman, older than me, but looks familiar and exactly like matured version of An.
– Hello, man. – She said, trying to find something in her little leather pouch. I greeted her and looked at watch. It was twenty minutes before nine.
– Did I forgot to close the door on a lock – I whispered.
– Yes, I think so. But it doesn’t matter. Can I wait here or make an order a little early?
– I am really sorry for that, but I can’t open the program before nine to make the payment.
– I can pay cash, but if you need to clear the device, sure I wait. I want it to be clear before my coffee will be done. – I thanked her and ask to wait a little. She just mumbled sound “mm” and got her phone to write some messages as I imagined and got back to work to finish the last part of cleaning process.
– You. – She asked me after a couple of minutes in rude and arrogant manner, boring with time and silence. – Do you serve a hazelnut macchiato to go?
– Yes, I can do that, though it is not what our cafe specialized in. – I was surprised. – Not a lot of people order it here. For some kind of mixed coffee they go to the popular places like… you know. – I stopped. She didn’t listen to me and was deep in her chatting with a mean face image I was prefer not to look at. But she was much more multitasker than I thought.
– An will be late. Maybe half in a hour. 
Sorry, what? – I almost dropped the glass, but held it between my apron and the towel in my hand, so I didn’t make a sound and hoped that the woman didn’t notice that I’d gotten into trouble.
– She got stuck in the hospital but now is running here.
– Why she got to the hospital? – Woman arise her head and I got her cold eyes question without any word. 
Didn’t she told you? Don’t you her … no? Oh my, sorry for bothering you. I made a mistake, I think. So, will you get me a coffee, I need to go.
– Ok. Give me some minutes. – I turned to do a job. She laid her chin on palm and stare to the right, where was the door. I heard that my colleague was in the staff room and going to came to the hall to start a shift. I didn’t care but wanted to ask her before she leave and while we were alone.
– An asked you to tell about that? Can I ask who are you? – She didn’t shake a muscle.
– A sister, who else.
– Oh, nice. She is a good worker, she could just write to us that she will be late. 
She needs a job. 
Don’t worry next time.
– I wont. I just wanted to know where she works and how is she, by the way? – It was strange and I didn’t know what to answer.
– I hope she is fine. Isn’t she studies music and plays in the cathedral you see from the window up on the hill?
– Well, sure. Yes. I just wonder who was that guy who made her stop speaking. And I guess now he is not you.
– What do you mean?
– Some bastard said her that she has a bad voice and asked her to shut up.
– Are you kidding me? When? – I thought about our youngest guy, with who we rotated shifts and did not overlap during working hours. 
Maybe in this winter, I don’t know. Are you done? – I slammed the lid of the plastic cup, gave her the holder, received payment and wished her a good day. – Don’t tell her. She didn’t know I am looking for him. If you’ll know something, write me. –  She looked very serious, gave me her visit card and on high heels just moved toward the door.

Before An came I searched for some information about a new modern decease I just found – “the selective mutism”. On some forums and magazines columns, as medical as not even closer was written that it is a rare anxiety disorder which is affecting just no more than one percent of the population, when a person is consistently unable to speak in unfamiliar environments due to some past circumstances and fear. But the most interesting part was about the potential role of music on the care for not speakable people and also that Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, the most famous guys through the ages, can help students with his music to categorize information, which is an influential asset to studying. It gave me nothing to understand some motives of this girl. But I was sure that here was something inside our place she was up to.

She looked good, though breathed hard. I think she was really running here from a bus station, but when came later just bowed a sorry for that and didn’t show anything else with her gestures, nor about the hospital nor about she is fine. I forgot what I wanted to ask and to do after work and the day passed like all the others. I did coffee for customers, walk besides tables, cleaned them, dried the cups, made money changes with a smile, smoked on the breaks, though I don’t smoke and thought what do I actually care about in my small life?

The sun set and people stoped coming in. Not a lot of people drink coffee after six. We closed at seven, shaken hands and gone our ways. I saw she harry to go up the street and didn’t bother her with my existence, but my home was somewhere too and I just was climbing the road, watching her back and confidence walk. 

It felt like real night and I saw she turned to the corner where was a little seven-eleven shop. I stoped and wait for a minute to decide where I want to be or where to go. I didn’t want go home or to follow her, but I turned to the shop and then the door was closed behind me. 

I stayed and chose the standard pack of the single person, which one are noodles and sandwich. Then I saw in the fridge the limited edition flavour with hazelnut macchiato of green star coffee and got one to try. After payment I gone to a little room there with hot water pot and microwave, did the preparation for a lonely dinner and sat for a high table near the window. 

There was dark outside and because of the light inside I can see only the part of the street which was holding in my shadow silhouette on the window. I was holding a hot cup noodles in a plastic box and a cold coffee. I watched them and thought about my so simple and in some kind two sided life. She came very silently behind my back and sat near, with the same set to eat. I smiled and she did the same. We started to eat, watching our dark and transparent shadows on the dirty glass and there was something common between. We both were left handed. Funny coincidence I didn’t notice while we were working. 

That evening I took her home and she gave me a paper cover with some writing in there. We said goodbye and at my home doorway, which was in the closest building I opened the letter. It was some notes of the music melody for a piano I supposed. And I thought why not? It was interesting to try to find a way to play them, wasn’t it? 


to be continued