Oh, the smell! The delightful smell! The aroma emanated from Abuelita’s treasured percolator and drifted lazily up the spiral staircase. It lingered at the top for just a moment and continued to twirl dreamily, as if unaware that the stairway turned upward no longer. Whether by its own volition or at the tender coaxing of a faint summer breeze, the savory redolence wandered leisurely down the hallway. It filled every room and closet, and yet it grew no smaller, no weaker. The bold, enchanting scent permeated itself perfectly to the size of each and every space it entered, no matter how great or inconsequential the expanse, even to the very last bedroom.
Pedro’s nostrils twitched then flared. He inhaled deeply through them and a great grin lit his face like the sunrise that had only moments before broken the South Atlantic horizon just outside the window. He made no effort to open his eyes just yet, as like oysters they preferred to remain sealed and protected, buried contentedly beneath heavy blankets of sand. But, oh, the fantastic fragrance that filled the room was far too much to bear! Finally, Pedro would not, could not resist for a single moment longer the enticing bidding of Abuelita’s coffee, and so he shucked open his eyes and sat up in bed.
Pedro was perplexed. The sunny, cheerful bedroom of his boyhood in which he expected to find himself was not, in fact, where he found himself at all. The walls that should have been a comforting, sea foam green were instead cold and gray; his handsome Beachwood bedside table was a menacing, steel cart; the clear, yawning windows that should have opened to pure, untainted Brazilian sand were small, grimy panes beyond which only more small, grimy panes across a dirty alleyway could be seen; and the fresh, salty breeze that always lifted his spirits was replaced by a stagnant, antiseptic air that hung weightily from the artificial ceiling.
Pedro rubbed his forehead and upon doing so felt an intravenous catheter protruding from a vein in the crook of his arm. Tubing ran to a bag half-filled with a thick, transparent, fluid. A sharp pain alerted him to malicious tape that ripped at the hair on his arm like a mischievous leprechaun yanking four-leaf clovers by the roots. Seeking relief, Pedro lowered his left arm and decided to continue rubbing his forehead with the other only to discover another IV with a second leprechaun yanking clover on that side, as well.
Suddenly, a great buzzing filled the hallway and doctors and nurses flooded into the room like bees swarming a great honeysuckle patch.
“Señor Alvarez? Señor Alvarez? Do you know where you are? How do you feel?” they asked. One doctor held up two fingers and asked “How many fingers am I holding up?” At the same time, another doctor was holding up three and asking the same question.
“No,” Pedro replied quickly. “Three. Terrible. Two.” The doctors exchanged concerned glances and scribbled on their clipboards. The room had become a circus and Pedro felt like a clown.
“You were in an accident, señor, and were brought here. You’ve been in a coma for 40 days,” one nurse informed him. “It’s a miracle!” said another. “Never thought he’d make it…” mumbled yet another.
Pedro searched his brain like the woman who lost a silver coin and swept her house until she found it (Luke 15:8). He could remember nothing of any accident and in this room full of people, he felt as scared and alone as a little lost sheep (Luke 15:4). Tears filled his eyes and he began to lose hope, until he remembered Abuelita. The aroma of her coffee tickled his nose once more.
He shouted, “¡Silencio!” Everyone hushed as if the queen bee were making an announcement.
“The coffee that I smell,” he said quickly while he had their undivided attention. “It comes from only one place in Brazil and it is unmistakable. Those beans were harvested and roasted by my grandfather. Who brought it here?”
A joyful squeal arose from the doorway. “Pedro!” The doctors and nurses snapped from their trances and began to buzz once more.
Abuelita ran into the room and tenderly embraced her grandson. “Pedro, mi nieto,” she cried with tears of joy. Then she poured two steaming cups of coffee from her treasured percolator, which sat in a corner and had faithfully brewed its wonderful brew every day for forty days.
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