Something so normal never seemed so out of place until this very moment. The warm colors that greeted my eyes with swirling patterns of autumn oranges, reds, and chestnut browns made me feel so suddenly serene. The smell of coffee beans and flavored shots and pastries crawled their way into my senses, springing a tingling feeling through my inner body to the tips of my fingers, branching through me like a tree reaching for light at hyper speed. People of all kinds; from the tiny quiet ones sipping at their coffee at the back table to the group of biker-looking men with leather jackets that hung around the front, filled the scene. Decorative, semi-modern furnature completed the atmosphere, and I couldnít help but smile.
My favorite coffee shop, from an early age to the age I am today, was still standing, still serving pleased customers. Most people that came in once came back for more, and I was no exception. My first sip of a vanilla lattť from Kennedy Coffee was burned into my taste buds and memory, and ever since, Iíve been coming back regularly. Iíve tried everything on the menu and enjoyed almost everything I drank. Their pastries probably werenít directly home-made, but they were quality. From chocolate coffee cakes to raisin bread, the whole lot of them expanded across the side of the ordering counter. The only thing keeping hungry customers from snagging the scrumtious pastries was a thin wall of glass, forever taunting those who couldnít have.
I walked up to the counter-there was no line, thank God. Sometimes the lines here were considerably long, causing slight contention between customers who were behind the person at the front, ordering all they pleased.
I wasnít really the impatient type, but no one likes a long wait.
The person behind the desk was an employee Iíd never seen before. He was timid and weary-eyed, but friendly, and took my order like any good worker should. His nametag read ďJakobĒ and I couldnít keep myself from thinking of my own son, named the very same.
These days, my son Jakob liked to be called Jake. He was fourteen, and both my wife and I had a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we were losing him to society and its cold, unrelenting, iron grip. He smoked, he didnít listen to us, he wore and did practically whatever he wanted. It brought a pang somewhere deep in my chest and suddenly I felt as old as dirt. Our first son, Joseph, was already out of the house. He looked so much like his mother to me, but many thought he had many of my characteristics. Maybe I just couldnít see it. But Jakob was still my baby, and I didnít want to lose him, ever.
If anyone is anything like me, I think, itís Jake. Maybe not so much in appearance, but when I was his age, I was very much the same. I got my first tattoo underage, and my parents could do nothing about it. I smoked my first cigarette at about the same time, too, and Iíve never been able to rid myself of the dreadful habit.
I didnít want my son to end up like me.
ďLarge Pumpkin Spice Lattť, Armstrong,Ē called the timid voice from the other end of the counter.
My senses sprang to life again and my thoughts about my son dulled until I was burying my lips into the sweet foam of my favorite flavor shot of coffee. It was all so wonderful, the perfect temperature, not too sweet, not too bitter, but the coffee flavor still lingered somewhere on my tastebuds. I downed the cup fairly quickly, and by now, my cheeks must be a deep scarlet from the heat. I smiled and slumped in the chair, feeling full but knowing the sensation would leave me sooner than later, and decided to order a nice banana nut muffin to go.
The moment I stepped out of the coffee shop, all serenity left me. I felt so old, once again, and suddenly my eyes felt heavy, even though the caffeine should have kicked in by now. The muffin was clutched a little too tightly in my hand, and by the time I was back to my car, it was no longer shaped like the pastry it had been only moments ago.
I should probably call Adie or something right about now. Recently sheís been all in my hair, needing to know exactly what I was up to, where I was, and when. I guess she worried as much as I did about losing someone important, and I canít blame her.
From Billie: Just left Kennedy Coffee, going over to see Mike and Tre. Feel free to come over any time, just please, donít bring Jakob. Send him to a friendís house or something, heíll just hate being here with us.
From Adie: Coffee? I thought you were going to get my meds from the pharmacy.
From Billie: I did, sweetie. I just stopped to get something from Kennedyís before I went over to see the guys. Iíll bring you your medications either tonight or whenever it is you show up. If you do.
From Adie: Oh, good. And, Iíll stay home. Iím not really in the mood of dealing with Jakeís attitude or any of your guy friends today. Have fun, donít come home wasted, yíhear?
I chewed on my lip. The last time I had gone to visit Mike and Tre, I had come home with a stagger in my step and an unnatural gurgle to my laugh, and that had infuriated her. She had told me ďNo wonder our son is growing away from us, look at what you teach him!Ē Iím surprised I remember Jakobís reaction when he walked into the room. A brief, mischevious smile, and then he passed us.
Adie had resumed her shouting, but I canít remember another word of what she had told me.
I replied to her text with a short statement of ďYou know Iím not good at keeping those kind of promises. But Iíll try, for your sake.Ē I closed my phone, not sure I wanted to see if she replied, and started my car.
I pulled out of the parking lot just as the snow flurries began to fall from the gray sky. With a slight smile at the beautiful powdery white collecting on my windshield, I drove in the direction of the guysí place.