It was an idea, a fanciful dream. I packed nothing and left everything.
The plantations were green, not brown. A prevailing wind filtered out the sounds of humanity’s pickers but the life I had wished for never existed.
I returned home deflated. My mum smiled and offered me a coffee.
Two years! Two years of drinking more coffee than a whole family of cocoa bean addicts. That’s what it felt like, anyway. And I preferred tea. Would I have done it all again? Damn right! When I asked the barista out? She just raised an eyebrow. Still, wasn’t a no.
If it was to pass without incident or event, without anger or altercation, I had to stay calm. There were no awards for foolishness, nor unprovable bravado. In this game of life and death decisions, I had to remain cool, unbothered, frosty.
"One lemon muffin please."
Her words cut through my misting, morning torpor like a bullet through paper; she'd bought the last one!
My fingers clenched, teeth grated, eyes shot daggers.
"I'm sorry," she said looking me up and down. "Would you like the last one?"
That was it, my faith in humanity restored. Not only was she stunning, but kind. I could've leapt in the air clicking my heels, laughed in jubilation, sung my heart out. But…
"No, you're alright, love. I'll have toast instead.
Well, after all, I was English.
A slide guitar slit through the coffee shop like a catamaran the sea. I imagined the chords gently easing aside the customers, the grinding granules, the general hullabaloo with the same simple efficiency of a gravedigger the cemetery's ochre soil. Apt, as it always was my favourite place to haunt.
I’m reclining in a cocoa lagoon where the natives all wear the same clothing and the colours never change. I like it here in this snippet of another world, my personal escape.
I breathe. I write.
The sound of grinding coffee is not a vexation but a soothing balm. Here, people talk as though in dreams and Venice accepts them with open arms, and an open cash register. I prefer my privacy but somehow am less disturbed by this than I am the Prefab Sprout that slips from the speakers.
I breathe. I write.
I talk to the girls behind the counter in a way I otherwise could not and would not and try to smile back. The irony, one is Italian, a Venetian, and I wonder if my dream is solidifying. I hope not. I like this dreamscape too much for it to become real.
I breathe. I write.
My time comes to an end. Social media has been answered, words written, and the routine I love and crave beckons though it seems a continent away. But I won’t run, not today. I choose another route, a smile playing across my face. I’ll take a gondola across these cocoa lagoons to remind me of my time here.
I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.
The scene: It's a bustling well known coffee shop where I'm quietly reclining trying to write a few words, whilst knocking back my favourite tipple. The two baristas, (best keep this technically correct) think their annoying discussion is going unheard. It's not. I'm a writer, and I'm easily influenced.
She: "I hate these so much!"
He: "Calm down."
She: "Coffee lids that don't fit!" Grrr!"
He: "Not the worst thing ever."
She: "What could be worse?"
He: "Underwear with no leg wholes."
She: "They're called hats."
He: "They're what you call hats."
She: "I know you're wondering how many holes mine have."
He: "Nope, just why you're putting plastic lids on coffee mugs."
“Something’s different with the coffee.”
“No it’s not.”
“Sure is. It’s more full-bodied, warming, cheerier somehow.”
“You’re losing it!”
“No, I’m not. I feel better for drinking it, happier, festive.”
“At least it’s in a take out cup.”
“You can drink it in the asylum.”
I’m reclining. That’s a funny little expression, don’t you think?
Reclining is one of my favourite words and even more favourite actions. Today I’m reclining in a new arts cafe, soaking up the atmosphere, looking refined, and trying not to get caramel shortcake all over my mouth. The piece is delicious melting on my tongue like a snowflake, but all too small. Fortunately, my wife chose to eat some ridiculously chocolaty bun, which included white chocolate — she doesn’t like white chocolate; I do — so I offered to help. I’m good like that.
We have both ordered a locally ground coffee with a Christmas tinge and are taking our time luxuriating in its delicious aroma. This is our holiday treat — the missus has had the week off, but we couldn’t afford to go anywhere — and what a special treat it is.
Some people like their cars, expensive holidays, works of art, whilst some are more easily pleased; we’re two of them. After a lovely walk in the sun (images below) this has nicely rounded off our week of walking, running and relaxing.
We saw the moon get stuck beneath the Humber Bridge. Here it is.
So, our little break is over, not that it was with Hunter Hunted being released last Tuesday. Back to work for the missus and back to the writing that I didn’t really leave for me.
Empty coffee mugs litter the tables, tidemarks of brown sludge marking their once fullness. Someone plays flamenco music through a poor quality speaker; it lacks the passion of a real performance. A lone girl stands behind the counter tapping her toes, her fingers out of sync on the desktop. She patiently awaits my order with a forced smile. I ask for my usual, ever the rebel. I could sit anywhere, the shop vacated, but choose my always seat. I am not here to experiment, I’m here because I’m home. The Venetian lagoon strapped to my cocoa-coloured view hints at far away places. I’m content to drink and imagine them.