A girl is sitting in the corner of this family-run cafe that I am a regular at. The coffee here is really great. Ethiopian kind and always brewed to perfection. With refreshing acidity and sweet stone fruit undertones.
I usually pop by to read a book and have a cup of espresso on sluggish Sunday mornings since my place is nearby. And today, I came with the intentions of carrying out the usual ritual, except, somehow… I very nearly failed to do so.
Well… First of all, It seemed that the typical nonchalant atmosphere that filled the room was now replaced with curiosity, sparked by the corner girl instead. Her drink caught my eyes, particularly. I took notice of her during the moment when she just lifted a Bavarian teacup, decorated with blue roses, towards almost-inconceivably opened lips. I never saw anyone drink from such peacocky tableware here. I swear… And that really racked my brains. So, like the simpleton that I am, I just decided to order what she’s having, hoping to feed my brains with some answers to vague and formless questions.
“Can I have one of those?” I tried subtly pointing towards the lady when Luke, the barista, asked for my order.
“Sure,” he only lukewarmly smiled, almost as if he knew what I was up to.
He took off right away and while I went back investigating the stranger. When her peach-coloured pillows of mouth reached the riff, she stopped. But only for a millisecond, and then proceeded to carefully sip from, what it seemed to be the most fragile, porcelain cup.
She, and now I, were having “salted sakura tea”, as Luke pointed out while putting down the same flashy cup on my table, a few moments later. “Wow”, I thought out loud, and by the way, that’s the sound of the irony reacting. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was just a tiny, pinkish petal drowning in a cup of boiling-hot water. And here I was, still staring at the mysterious woman. I guess by doing that I was hoping to figure out the taste of the pretentious tea before going in for the kill. Can’t explain the precaution, though, as I am a bit of a daredevil by the rule of thumb. It’s just something’s off with the cup, and with the colourless tea, and the girl too. All of it felt like a flaky love letter to 80s.
What mostly threw me off, was that this unfamiliar corner habitat seemed confused or rather unfocused (you see I’m terrible at recognising other people’s emotions) on the taste of the tea. She had her gaze locked on the greenery in the opposite corner of the coffee shop instead.
“Is she seeing something that I’m not?” I attempted to take a better look at the flora…
The harmony of the greenery and the shadow-striped floor, fabricated by the window jalousie, stops my thoughts for a moment… For a brief second, or perhaps even longer, my entire body – limbs, knuckles, nerve system, and soul (if you believe in one), got swallowed by the overwhelming calamity and nothingness… I dissolved within the scene.
Then a life or a few minutes later,
I was brought back to senses and back to my consciousness by a very light and fragile, almost cherry-like, fragrance coming from the direction of the cup. I looked down, and the sakura petal was somewhat obscurely fluttering within the crystal clear water. As if it was about to reach a metamorphosis, a transcendence of some sort. “Perhaps, it was diffusing too? Or… am I witnessing a teacup storm here?”.
The corners of my mouth went up. I chuckled on my own like a proper cuckoo case. On these rare occasions of the cognitive shift, when the dialogue between my conscious and unconscious minds change and when the triple threat – ego, id, and superego – disappear… I become part of something bigger, or rather, I understand the smallness and precious ridiculousness of ‘myself’. “Was I experiencing an ‘overview effect’ just now? Or was that… the aroma of the tea?”.
Suddenly, I knocked out of it, only to realise that I was still looking at this sakura-tea girl. I caught her watching me watching her. Well, my eyes were open and it seemed that I was looking her way when in ‘reality’ I was looking at the entire universe just now.
She timidly smiled and went back to analysing the flora and fauna of the cafe.
“Were there actually two of us fusing into space?” I muttered to myself.
Fuck, I wonder why these days every stranger cloud my mind with stardust?
I decide to finally try the salted sakura tea and It tasted like nothing, with a bit of salt.
Before opening my book and landing back on the planet, I ordered a cup of espresso.