I park my car in front of the favorite coffee place and stare at nothing. My thoughts are dwelling on themselves in a lasery sort of way, going over the same video game information/impressions that they’ve been going over for months. It makes time feel fuzzier and reality evaporative.
I startle as random, chatting people pass by my car window. Once they have driven away and the scene is quiet, I depression-slide out of the car, onto pavement, my personal energy extra low in the pre-caffeine part of the morning.
I walk into the place as my thoughts resume the ongoing focus-loops. There are a few people in front of me, waiting to order; a few others line up behind me. I wait, stare placidly and think about chunky pixels and electric sounds.
When the barista at the cash register asks for my order, I say, “Brewed coffee, medium, with sugar, please.”
“Solid or liquid?” they ask.
Instant confusion. I stare at the person, hoping they might explain what that even means, but they only stare back. I try to imagine what a solid coffee would even look like, then glance around at other customers to see if they’re also finding this to be strange. Instead, they each send a face of quiet annoyance in my direction.
“I don’t get it,” I say, giving up. “What’s a solid coffee? Is that like a new thing or…?”
“Do you want solid or liquid sugar, sir?” the barista asks tersely while pointing down to a poster I hadn’t noticed before. It’s right in front of me, the poster, hanging on the counter below the cash register. It reads (bright, colorful font), “Try our new liquid sweetener!”
I grind my teeth and think curse words in my head. Then I fake laugh to seem like a good sport about the whole thing. I look again at the other customers to give an embarrassed shrug; no one reacts, except for one person who points at the ceiling, where a long banner over our heads also advertises sweetener drops in various new flavors.
“Okay, all right,” I say to the barista. “Solid sugar; liquid coffee; cup of paper.”
Register buttons click, steam hisses, people talk and wait. The entire room smells like a freshly-cracked coffee bean, it’s my favorite thing to feel sometimes, the various pleasant coffee moods that can go by.
I grab my order once it’s ready, dart out of the shop, avoiding even peripheral eye contact with all people. In my car, I sit quietly for a bit, sip coffee, let thoughts abrade time and stress.
Backing out of the parking space, I finally notice all of the posters lining the outside of the building that feature smiling, cartoon drops of fake-sugar waving at frowny-looking sugar cubes. Instant frustration.
Regular blog posts now resuming. You can support this site by following along at the Invisible Strings Patreon, where new writing will be posted throughout the week, in addition to the ongoing posts here. All content, both here and at the patreon, will remain free to read; donations are welcome but not required.