➼ Title: Finally, At Last
➼ Word count: 988 ➼ Warnings: Death of a loved one/Car Accident
➼ Troptember: Reunions
The bus twists and turns in the road, or so it feels. If my count is right, seven people have been thrown onto someone in the last thirty minutes. The things you do to meet a friend who lives far away after twenty years. I almost fall on the old lady, but the bus stops just in time. Unfortunately, I bump into a kid in front of me, who drops his lollipop. Cue the waterwork, I say rolling my eyes. Reaching into my wallet, I pull out a ten-dollar bill.
“Keep it, and shut up. But whatever you can.” As if a switch was turned off, he shuts up. Even the few drops of tears that leaked out seemed to have disappeared.
Making my way around people, I finally step out. Not even a second later, the bus starts and whizzes past. Sighing, I start walking uphill towards the city. It’s a popular getaway among busy workaholics. I’m neither busy nor a workaholic. My friend, Anders, lived a few miles down the hill and suggested this place for us to meet. I must admit, it is a beautiful city. Pastel-coloured buildings, mild sunshine, crystal clear sky. I check my phone and follow the blue line in the Maps. ‘Walk ahead for five hundred meters and take a right. Your destination will be on the left.’ Following its advice, I start to walk slowly, admiring the cartoon-like houses and perfectly trimmed bushes. I take the right it said and voila, there it is. ‘Cafe of the Gods of the Mountains’. It was a mouthful to pronounce, so I never bothered.
Sudden realization hits me worse than my temptation to slap the crying child. A cafe for the gods had been a game we played as children. I would be the barista, God of ‘the Coffees and Teas and Muffins’, while Anders was various customs: ‘God of Matcha Tea Latte’, ‘Goddess of Iced Tea and Carrot Muffins’, ‘Patron Saint of French Vanillas’. You get the idea. I was surprised he remembered that—we played that when we were six. Laughing softly, I cross the street. Even the cafe looked like our imaginary one. Did he own this place?
It wasn’t packed today, since it was still time till school ended. There was no one at the counter, so I rang the little golden bell.
“Welcome to the Cafe of the Gods of the Mountains, what would you like today?” A man with the most dead eyes and a sombre voice walks to the counter from the kitchen.
“Greetings, God of the Coffees and Teas and Muffins! I would like to receive a large double chocolate chip frappuccino with three pumps of white mocha syrup, please!” I put on my childhood facade of ‘Patron Saint of French Vanillas’, she was always the nicest.
A long pause, too long for comfort, and the guy narrows his eyes. “Right. Yeah. Of course. That’ll be $5.35. Cash or card?” Before I could reply, he placed the card machine in front of me. I didn’t mind it, since I wanted to pay with a debit. I tap the card on the machine, get a nod of approval from the man and smile. I felt weirdly chirpy. The last time I felt like this was when I saw my ex step on dog poo. Ah, those days.
Someone rings the little bell hurriedly, almost annoyed. Looking back at the counter, I see the dead-eyed man. “Do you want your drink or not?”
Still keeping my smile, I take the drink. “Thank you, oh Great God. May you be blessed with the light of a thousand suns and the might of a thousand beasts!” Our way of saying thank you.
Another long, awkward pause. “Yeah, I wish. You have a great day, though.” And off he goes back into the kitchen, leaving the cafe unmanned.
I look at the drink, marvelling at the beauty. It was too beautiful for words. I almost didn’t want to drink it. Almost. Finding a table outside under the shade of a pink umbrella, I quickly sat. It had a plastic straw, and it made the drink much better. I care for the turtles, but I care more for my plastic straws. Paper straws tasted like cardboard. The drink flows down my tongue and throat. I could swim in the drink forever. It’s three in the afternoon, just a few more minutes till Anders arrives. I take this time to reminisce about our childhood together.
Our first meeting comes to mind. He was playing in the park, all alone. We were four years old at the time. His parents were nowhere to be seen, so I ran to him. Making friends was much easier when you were young. We clicked instantly and played for hours until a lady who looked like his mothers took him home. I remember holding his hand on our first day of school, while he cried and waved at his—
My phone rings loudly, bringing curious glances from pedestrians. Embarrassed, I pick the call, not look at who it is. “Hello? Who is this?” I snap.
“Are you Hebi? I am Anders’ mother speaking. If I’m correct, Anders was to meet you on Getaway City, right?” Getaway City was what everyone called it. The voice sounds so strained and… heartbroken. My heart tenses a little, but I calm down and ask the right question.
“Yes, Ms. Kolin! Anders hasn’t arrived yet. Is something wrong?” I try to sound happy, hoping the emotion would carry across.
“Ye—” Her voice breaks, like she’s been crying. “Yes. Anders is in the hospital at the moment. He got into a car crash a few minutes ago. Doctors think he won’t survive. Just… Just thought you’d like to know.” She finally cracks and starts crying. She cuts the call mid-sob, but I’m too far away to hear that.