The Road Not Taken (Part I)


“If I hadn’t been a scientist, I would have been a writer. You know, a writer who would steal and dramatize happenings from daily life and sell them.”
I watch him carefully lift the classy white ceramic pot of coffee cream and pour some in his porcelain mug. He picks up the teaspoon buried in the sugar, and puts a spoonful in his coffee. The scent of deeply fried coffee beans wafts from his cup. I watch the white of the thick coffee cream slowly evade the black of the coffee – a battle both end loosing – as he slowly stirs the coffee forming a small whirlpool at the center. He swirls it so deliberately, so passionately, and occasionally brings the spoon against the wall of the mug to make that clinking sound.His movements are genuinely precise, perfectly timed and utterly subtle.
“If you think of it, writing is nothing but a business of selling emotions.”
I have never really liked coffee: the darkness of it, but the way he is preparing his coffee suddenly makes me coffee-hungry.
“Do you mind if I take your cup of coffee?” – I blurt out my thoughts to existence. My words smile at me as they fly by. His puzzled eyes peer at me from the other side of the carbony aroma that continues to evaporate from his porcelain mug. For a moment, I feel like he weighs his options. A simple yes or no does not take so long.
“Sure. Here you go!” He swiftly pushes the cup towards me.
“Thanks.”
“I thought you didn’t enjoy coffee?” So, he was not weighing his options, but thinking.
“I want to remind myself how good it is to drink tea again.”
His eyes glare at me, but his lips stretch accurately to the length of a perfect smile. Again a clever move from him. A well-thought deception. But his movements continue to fascinate me.
“Please do me a favor. Before you take the first sip of the coffee, leave all your hatred behind.”
I silently lift the cup – the scent of deeply roasted coffee beans wraps around me – and take the first sip of the coffee. The familiar bitterness of carbony smell bombards my tounge and inner walls of my cheeks. The bitterness is cleverly balanced with the sweetness of the sugar. The bitterness doesn’t bother me. In fact the first sip, very unexpectedly, neatly slides down my throat.
I feel the warmth dissipating through my body. I melt like an ice cube thrown in the hot frying pan. It took me so many years to stand strong; to build that wall in my heart, and he is tearing that apart with a cup of coffee? “Impossible!” – I realize that I thought out loud when my own words bounce back to my ears.
“I’m glad that you like it.” He says that with a victorious smile, but he has no clue what that impossible referred to. I lift the mug again lost in my thoughts and my eyes fixed to his smile.
“Not too fast. Let that first sip settle first. Appreciate the thickness, that “i can’t put into words” mixture of bitterness and sweetness and the aroma that is left.” – I put the mug down on the table and he continues – “Good things in life must be embraced not overdone!” His left hand brushes my right hand barely touching it: just as a nice gesture. But his touch does wonders to me and awakens the sinful desires within me. Something that I never anticipated.
<Put yourself together. You can’t be defeated by a stupid cup of coffee> I think, and then looking straight in his eyes I tell that my impossible entailed the fact that it simply is impossible to drink the coffee. I spot icy grey slowly appearing in his eyes. A voice in my head orders me to continue the damage. Next, I thank him for sparing me from the painful second sip <which I was taking it out of respect for him>.
He lets his response hang in the air. He doesn’t say anything. Instead, he looks at me, and simply smiles. His smile was like that of a seven weeks old baby: very innocent, heartwarming and loving. It makes my heart swell and sets me on fire. The flames of forbidden desires burn me again.
His next move, however, checkmates me. He stands up, says the usual – it’s been pleasure meeting you, Valentina – and leaves. My eyes follow his steps to the door, and watch him disappear in the crowd.
I continue to enjoy the rest of the coffee in complete bewilderment.

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