Edward Wayland – The Road Back 4

Edward made his way to the cafe and has ordered a coffee.  He needs a place to think. But his mind spins on the recent rejection.  Fortunately, Athena has a solution.

Author’s note

I am splitting this section in to several as it is quite long. This is the second part of three.

Thanks for your support. Look for more tomorrow.

The Best Coffee in the Universe

He moved to the table by the window. He watched the mixture of professors, students and others scurry by. He tried to blank his mind but Mrs. Carmichael’s comments kept echoing in his head – “There are no current posts” and “I would think twice about someone …so erratic.” He took off his hat and closed his eyes and pressed his hands to his face. In a short amount of time a small voice said, “Sir?”  He pulled his hands away and rubbed them on his vest and saw a young girl holding a bowl of steamed milk. On the top was the image of a spiral.  It reminded him of etchings he had seen of Messier 1 and Andromeda.  He shook his head and took the bowl with both hands and said, “Thank you, young lady.” He set the bowl down and stared at the image a moment more. It seemed a shame to disrupt it. He added two lumps of sugar and began to stir the image apart. He stared out the window more. After a bit, he noticed that the girl was still there.  She was staring at him very solemnly. He asked, “I’m sorry. Do I need to tip your or something?”

She responded, “How come your eyes are so sad?”

He found she suddenly got very blurry and he reached for his well-used kerchief again. He heard Abigail, say loudly, “Athena leave the man alone. You have lessons to attend to.”

She said in a loud whisper, “Don’t you go away. I’ve got just the fix.”

He nodded absently as he heard Abigail say more sternly, “Athena!”.  He felt embarrassed to have been undone by the young girl. He dabbed his eyes, blew his nose and took a deep breath.  The cappuccino seemed to steam a bit in his direction.  He took the bowl like mug in his hands and had a sip. The smooth cream mixed with the dark bitter espresso felt warm and soothing on his throat. He set the drink down and looked at the foam that had been a galaxy.  He took another sip from the bowl and was enjoying this when the girl appeared with her mother trailing behind.  The girl held out a plate of chocolate chip cookies.  Abigail said, “I do apologize, Edward. Athena was most insistent.” She said to the girl, “Now give the remarkably tolerant young man the cookies and attend to your lessons… or you will be spending the afternoon on them instead of at the park.”

He could see the girl flash a bit of annoyance but presented the plate saying, “When I have a bad day Tante Alice sets me on the bench and gives me two cookies. She says the first one is so I don’t feel so bad. And the second one is to remember something good…like cookies.”  Edward took the plate at stared at them and felt tired and alone.

Abigail apologized again saying, “She won’t bother you further. Please…stay a bit.” She pushed the girl towards the counter.

Edward looked up and smiled wanly, “Free coffee and free cookies are the best thing that has happened to me today.” He coughed a bit and said hoarsely, “The bar’s a bit low.” He looked out the window and said, “and I’ve nowhere else to be.”

Abigail touched his shoulder lightly and left and he nodded in assent.

He took another sip of the warm cappuccino and it seemed to settle his nerves. He looked at the offering of cookies and smiled. When he tried one, it was still warm. The baker clearly liked a lot of butter and the chocolate was strong in taste but not too sweet. The girl meant well and he could remember when all he needed was a cookie to make him feel better. The cook in his house would bake cookies like this. He could smell them being baked and he would sneak in to the kitchen and grab one. For years he thought he had fooled the cook until she told him with a laugh, “Oh nay lad. I knew you nicked one or two in a batch. It’s what lads do. But ya’ never took more and ya’ ate your supper just the same. And after a few lessons, a cookie is what is needed. Doncha’ think?” Perhaps the girl’s cookies were a needed palliative.  He dipped one in the foam experimentally and tried another bite.


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