Wednesday 14th September

190914

LEAVE A LIGHT ON:

The young Barista serving coffee to the same faces every morning
remembers he’d forgotten how long he’s worked behind the counter
until he’s asked by one of the regulars, the old guys who comes in
every morning to sit & write for an hour somewhere he can
see the whole room. He remembers it’s always porridge with honey
& tea with no milk & a metal (not a plastic) spoon. He remembers
it’s two years since he started here & can’t believe how fast
the time as gone, even for one so young. He remembers, with a
vacant expression, all the people who’ve come & gone behind the
coffee counter. The girls with pale powdered faces who breeze in
every morning, with nothing deeper than cheer to offer. Then he
remembers the girl he left in bed this morning in a tiny flat,
as he woke before dawn to cross the market square to unlock &
get his machines warmed up. He remembers his headphones
for company in the hour before opening, the bliss of an empty
coffee bar & a locked door. He remembers the thrill of first
moving in with the girl with the bird’s nest hair that he left in
bed, the night they met, & how fast the thrill faded, recalling
passing last night’s dishes soaking in the kitchen sink as he
slipped a jacket over his uniform. He remembers his last pay rise,
the money he’d planned to save to leave town, but never did.
He remembers there’s always more bills than he remembers.
He thinks about the old man’s question & exhales,
‘Two years…!phew’
He remembers how he hates the sight of his Barista brown shirts
hanging like corpses in the bedroom where he bets his girl’s still’s
sleeping. He remembers the refurbs, face-lifts, new uniforms,
introduced to boost flagging trade & how it all worked. He reminds
himself to remember to be grateful they did. Then he remembers the
glances, the looks, the ‘did that look really mean what I think?!’,
The chance encounters & fantasies of meeting the ONE who would help
him find the balls to pack this job & quit town. He remembers that
she still hasn’t walked in & the girl dreaming in his bed. He remembers
coming to this cafe when he was still at school , the thrill of buying
coffee for the first time & being allowed out on breaks that first
time. He remembers sitting at the big table that isn’t here anymore,
with his crew, school ties loose as card sharps, collars wide.
He remembers all their faces, the ones that moved away to college as
soon as school was over, to London & Manchester who back-packed through
Thailand, Australia, America, Europe, sleeping on beaches so they had
enough for food & booze & parties & raves & girls. Picking up work as
they needed, following whatever road they fancied. He remembers them
returning, tanned & radiant, worldly wiser, dropping in for one
first/last coffee, all of them surprised he was still here. He remembers
watching each of them leaving faster than returning to take up places
at the cream of universities…somewhere else. He remembers
his dreams when he was a kid, the plans with his mates in the school
canteen. He remembers what they all said they’d be doing when they
were the age he is now & how all of them did it except him,
he remembers. He remembers the bean grinder’s broken & how many
times he’s apologised for that already today & the late arrival of the
morning papers…again. He remembers to make a mental night to bollock
the night shift when they get in for not putting out the bins,
the stink when he opens up he never forgets.
He remembers they forget to wipe down the sandwich fridge again,
he wonders what the hell they do & makes a mental note to find out
this afternoon just before he leaves to see if the washing up is still
in the sink where he passed it this morning. And he remembers to
smile & leave a light on in his voice every time he greets me.

(K)

8 thoughts on “Wednesday 14th September

  1. Perspectives

    Its been two years now
    The old men – same torn faces every morning

    Two years sober
    I remember them all

    Two years fighting
    Their orders

    Two years winning
    They never change

    Two years free
    I join in their inane chatter

    Two years’ service
    I laugh at their jokes

    Two years giving
    Eye contact, a smile

    Two years grateful
    Sad they come here

    Two years happy
    No-one at home

    Two years since my rescue
    No-one to share with

    Two years since I found my niche
    Looking after the broken ones

  2. Hope you remember my smile & hope I left a light on in my voice when I greeted you last time.
    Never thought I would start travelling just to get closer to that feeling. But I’m happy I did, very happy.
    I still remember…

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