(An absolutely cracking story! I’m already invested! Make sure to follow @spootslibrary for the following parts! Show some love-Ash)
The coffee shop usually didn’t have more than five customers at a time. After three years of working in the same shop, Addison had nearly every regular’s order memorized. Out of all the regulars, she looked forward to seeing three of them the most in the early mornings when the shop doors had just opened.
She looked forward to seeing Amy, the nice mother of two that liked a caramel macchiato paired with a strawberry turnover. She liked to dote on her oldest son while ordering, and usually fed the pastry filling to her toddler daughter at the table closest to the front bay window.
She expected Mr. Todd, the history professor from the local University that liked a cup of black coffee fresh from the brewing pot. He always brought in a new book to read with his morning coffee, and if he felt talkative, he would tell Addison about a certain piece of history that he had recently studied or lectured on.
Every morning, she looked forward to seeing her favorite customer of all; a tall, lanky man by the name of Spencer. He always liked a white chocolate mocha with extra cream paired with a breakfast scone, and on some days, he would order four or five different things to go. When Addison picked on him one morning about his large order, he defended himself with a laugh.
“I don’t have an addiction, it’s for the people I work with.” He had drummed his fingers against his messenger bag, a nervous twitch that Addy had caught onto before. She gave a slight chuckle and a simple ‘As you say’ before returning to her task.
He was a simple man from what she could gather from him. He always dressed in business casual clothes. He didn’t like to talk about his job, so she didn’t ask. He loved to read, apparently; she saw him every day with a new book, never keeping to one for more than a day. Her guess was that he would start one and never finish it; there was no way he could read a new book every day.
Sometimes, she would go three or four days without seeing him. Those days she missed his company more than anything, and found herself praying that wherever he was at, and whatever he was doing, he was okay.
On a particularly dreary, cold morning in November, Addison rolled to her feet and padded through her cramped apartment to the small adjoining kitchen. The sunlight drifted lazily through the window, illuminating the kitchen in a warm glow. She gathered all things needed for a simple breakfast and thumbed through her music collection, settling for her favorite CD; she’d had it for many years now, the wear and tear evident through the scratches on the back. Flipping through the tracks, she settled on Paul Cardall’s Redeemer. As the CD turned, the beautiful symphony of strings wound their way through her mood, brightening her smile to match the sunrise.
No more than an hour later, Addy found herself flipping the sign at the front of the shop to ‘open’, gazing out at the busy street corner. She smiled to herself and sent up a silent prayer that Grace be with the people around her through their travels. The smell of fresh-brewing coffee surrounded her, sure to cling to her clothes long after she would leave later in the day. The sharp ding of the entrance bell rang out, Mr. Todd stepping out of the cold wind.
Addy pulled a cup off of the drying rack, still warm from the dishwasher. “Good morning, Mr. Todd.” She held up the cup by the handle and gave him a genuine smile. “Still the same?”
He offered a quiet laugh and placed his brief case onto the counter. “Of course. No creme please.” She nodded and poured his cup to the brim, sliding it to him as he withdrew a thin paperback book from his case.
“New book, I see.”
He nodded at her comment, flipping over the book so that she could read the description. Her eyes danced over the words, trying to rack her brain for where she had heard of it before. After drawing a blank, she gave up on trying to remember.
“It sounds like a nice read.” She handed him a napkin for his coffee as she slid the book back to him, the bell over the door ringing once more.
An hour passed by without her noticing, followed by one more. A steady stream of people made their way through the shop as time passed. As noon rolled by and she made the last order of the lunchtime rush, she found herself fretting over Spencer. She hadn’t seen him in over four days due to the Thanksgiving weekend. “Hopefully,” she thought to herself, “he’s visiting with family and will be back tomorrow.” She continued on with her tasks, stepping out from behind the counter to sweep the floor. It was only her in the shop, the soft sound of the stereo bouncing down off of the wood ceiling. Jack Johnson echoed around her, the upbeat song making her hips sway in time with the beat. Behind her, the bell rang out.
She smiled and turned around, her little nephew waving frantically at her, his hand clung tight in his mom’s.
“Hey, little mouse!” She sat the broom to the side and squatted as he ran for her, picking him up and squeezing him tight. At the young age of four, he was smaller compared to other kids his age, but his age foretold nothing of his vocabulary; where he lacked in physical growth, he matched in intellectual growth. He giggled as she kissed his cheek. She cast her eyes to her sister-in-law, offering a small smile.
“Addison.” Her sister-in-law offered no more than a tight-lipped smile, keeping the peace in the smallest way possible.
“Addy, Addy!” She looked back to him with pure happiness. “Guess what I did today.”
He giggled when she furrowed her eyebrows in mock concentration. “Did you go to the moon?”
He laughed, filling the space with a little more light-heartedness. “No, you silly. I went to school.”
“School?” She looked at Amelia with pure confusion. “When did he start school?”
Amelia rolled her eyes and checked her watch. “Two weeks ago.”
Hurt spread through Addy’s heart. “How come I didn’t know this?”
“I didn’t find it important enough to let you know.” Malice dripped off her words. She checked her watch once more and tapped her foot.
Still on her hip, little Noah tapped her cheek. “It’s okay, I promise. It’s just school.” She nodded and kissed his cheek once more.
“How about a little snack to take home with you?” Addy said. He cheered and his face lit up, only for the happy moment to be interrupted.
Amelia spoke quickly. “He’s not allowed sugar.”
Addy was taken aback. “He’s four years old.”
“He’ll get cavities.”
“They’re gonna fall out anyway.”
Amelia scoffed at Addy’s retort. “Unlike your family, mine practices the utmost hygiene, no matter the age.”
Addy nearly lost her cool but she held her tongue for Noah’s sake; the little guy had already been through enough in his four years, he didn’t need another spat like this to send him back to therapy.
Addy cleared her throat and kissed the side of Noah’s head before setting him back on his feet. She kneeled down to his eye level, rumpling his hair a little to make him smile.
“I love you, mouse.” He giggled and hugged her once more. He buried his head into the crook of her neck and whispered a small “I love you too”.
As he walked back to his mom, Addy couldn’t stop the words from falling out. “If he needs anyone, I’m always here.” Amelia’s eyebrow hitched up, her eyes boring into Addy’s. Addy continued on. “W-we did go through the same thing so I could- uh- I could help him.
Amelia remained silent as she collected Noah’s hand in hers, her shoulders stiff. She cleared her throat and nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” And with a turn of her shoulder, she dragged Noah out of the front door. He waved once more before they rounded the street corner, the cold air swallowing their breaths.
Addy sighed and picked up the broom, walking back to the counter. She ran her hand over the counter top and scraped off the grains of sugar, placing her head where they were moments before. With her head on the counter, she interlocked her fingers and placed them on her neck, breathing quietly through her mouth.
How had things gotten this bad?
In the midst of her thoughts, she didn’t hear the bell ring. Quiet footsteps moved across the paneling, stopping just short of where she lay.
“Are you still open?”
Amelia jumped and accidentally knocked off a can of sugar; luckily for her, the lid was screwed on tight and nothing spilled onto the floor. Looking up, she saw none other than Spencer gazing at her. Finding her tongue, she replied while picking up the can.
“Uh- yeah, of course!” She took a steadying breath as she flipped on the mocha maker. “The usual?”
He nodded and continued to watch her every movement. She tried to shake off the lingering hurt that she felt, focusing solely on his drink.
“Did you have a good holiday?” His voice flowed throughout the small space.
“Yeah, I did.” She tried to think of something that normal people did during the holiday and drew a blank. Instead, she decided to tell the truth. “I stayed home and caught up on a few things. How about you?”
“I read a few journals. I watched a documentary about the Great Wall of China.”
“I’ve always wanted to go see that.” Spencer nodded, his eyebrows furrowing in the middle.
“Did you know that the Wall is exactly 21,196.18 km long?”
“I did not know that. It seems like it would take a long time to walk all the way across it.”
Without missing a beat, Spencer replied. “It would take approximately 18 months.”
Amelia put the finishing touches on his drink and slid it over to his waiting hands, a smile of wonderment adorning her face. “How do you know that?”
He shrugged and pulled his lips into his mouth, fishing his wallet from his pocket. “I just know.” He replied quietly. He handed over the exact change, his face softening. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Addison.”
She nodded. “Tomorrow, Spencer.” He waved once before turning, wrapping a scarf around his neck. The door chimed and closed behind him. She followed the path he had taken and flipped the sign to show closed, pulling the blinds down over the front windows.
As she cleaned up the shop and packed her things to leave, she felt two things; one, she felt confused about how she stood with Amelia, and two, she felt hopeful for the first time in a long time.
She was hopeful of the new day tomorrow and all that it would bring.