spring coffee

I'm cleaning out the folder I created while taking a creative writing class a few years ago. This story is probably the most bummer one I've found so far.


Cratered by disbelieving feet, the slush lay across and around the ice rink, amazing what a difference a few degrees make. Only the day before, in golden winter light, blades had slashed across the rink’s solid surface, hard and fast in the cold, sounding clean, people’s breath clouding their faces for an instant before disappearing. Today though, all the breath had reappeared as numbing mist, flattening the day's light and sound. Heavier drizzle, not quite rain, falling through the grey air adding static, like somewhere someone had left a very large set of headphones slightly unplugged.

One of the local cool kids, John or DJ SoundSauce depending on context, slunk past the rink. His feet were soaked, his shoes, salt-stained and deformed by the season, were of no use as every step brought a puddle. He pulled himself deeper into his pressed wool pea coat but damp air knows secret passages through a jacket and he shivered as he squelched on. John held fire in his hands, but only enough to singe his lungs without warmth and add fresh smoke to his acrid jacket. All night spent in dank underground windowless clubs, cinder block walls holding out smoking laws, where people danced in the face of sleep as John spun and spun through an unknown dawn’s sad light, his being stank and his skin held the grey translucence of the world around him.

The damp air made hard things unreal. A car burst past without warning. Blasting its horn. Splashing through a puddle its red metal a sudden scarring contrast to the day. Cursing the driver, John stood bedraggled and dripping in front of the coffee shop, 9 am and it was closed. According to a note on the door it had never opened that morning due to a family emergency. Sorry, in the red ink of a Sharpie alongside a bright smiley face. John felt mocked by the grin as he shivered on the sidewalk considering sleep, Adderall and whether delirium tremens was only an alcohol thing or if caffeine was incriminated in some way. Looking down, someone had found coffee that morning. An empty white paper cup tossed away and floating in the dirty morass, a thin brown stain at the bottom holding none of the flavour and aroma John craved.

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