Sunday Morning Coffee

“Coffee, black,” said the lady at the counter. She was old, gray, yet spirited. She wore a white military style uniform. Its metallic silver trimmings reflected the incandescent light in such a way as to make it difficult to stare at her. It’s not every day that someone new orders here. That’s why I like it. It’s boring and predictable. The perfect place to spend my Sunday mornings after my work week filled with surprises and unpredictable chaos.

I heard the woman pay with coins, which is odd. Who does that anymore? I quickly turned to look away just as the old lady grabbed her coffee. I pretended that the calm street outside was worthy of my intense glare, but I wasn’t fooling anyone, especially her. I caught her out of the corner of my eye as she pulled out a chair and sat at my table, “Are you Jackie Pitz?” asked the lady.  

I didn’t immediately answer her. In fact, my initial instinct when someone tries to talk to me is to get up and leave; leave the table, leave the room, maybe even pack my bags and leave town. I don’t like people. People are complicated. People are selfish. People are irresponsible. People are work. However, before I could push my chair back to get up and leave, the old lady held out her hand and touched mine. She was ice cold.

Intrigued, I confessed, “Yes, I am Jackie Pitz.”

“Good,” the old lady replied, “I am your granddaughter. My name is Maelyn, and I need your help.”

I did what any normal person would do under such circumstances. I drank my coffee while simultaneously looking around the room to examine if anyone else could see this crazy old woman sitting at my table. All the other people in the coffee shop had working eyes and ears and they were obviously observing us.

I then concluded that this woman was real. At least, in the sense she was taking up physical space and drinking coffee, so I did the only logical thing I could think of. I slowly got up, and acted casual as I walked out of the coffee shop and down the street. I have no idea how I normally walk, but I tried to moderate my steps to some kind of gentle rhythm, like everything about right now was normal, and not altered by a soon to be corpse claiming to be my descendant.

Of course, this plan of mine, to just walk away, was flawed. “Jackie!” yelled a voice.

Of course, the lady named Maelyn had legs that worked too, and was running to catch up with me. An impressive feat, given her age. “Stop, please!” she begged. With a heavy sigh, I stopped. Now that we were in sunlight, I could see more clearly how I hadn’t given this woman more credit for her appearance. She was old, yes, and her hair was gray, yes, but she was also very fit and healthy. In fact, impressively so, which allowed me to let my guard down. “What do you want?” I asked.

“I want you to help me wake up and understand.”

“Excuse me?”

“Every night you visit me,” Maelyn continued, “Sometimes in my dreams. Sometimes in my nightmares. Every night, every single night. I want to know why.”

“That is impossible,” I said, “I live here. I have lived here for years. I have never seen you before this morning. How can possibly expect me to believe that you have seen me, that I have ‘visited you’ on a what did you say? A daily basis?”

“More like nightly,” Maelyn corrected, “And often, we don’t talk. You are just there. You are always there.”

My usual plan of action where I leave town was starting to seem like the best course of action here. I don’t know what it is about me, but I always attract crazy people. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to abruptly leave and start over again. Each time, a new small city, and each time, I check into a rundown hotel and take the first job anyone will give me. Each time, someone freaks me out, and I have to leave again. However, this time, I got to stay here a while, a long while. For this reason, I thought maybe I should put up a bit of a fight. After all, I had a routine, and with that, some contentment. It’s not the same as happiness, but it suited me just fine.

“Okay,” I said, “Tell me about these dreams.”

“Well,” said Maelyn, with some hesitation in her voice, “There is the gray problem.”

“Gray problem?”

“Yes, you see, in real life, everything is bright and colorful, and here, in dream world, where you are, everything is gray.”

I had no idea what she was talking about, and clearly, my face was communicating as much without me saying a world, she continued, “Okay, so that doesn’t make much sense to you. Let me try another approach.”

“Yes,” I said, “That might be a good idea.”

“Okay,” Maelyn said, “There is the animal situation here.”

“Excuse me?”

“For one, baby triceratops, while cute, are not real.”

I assumed she was commenting on the small family of triceratops that were crossing the street behind me was we were having this conversation. They often travel in groups in the early morning hours, especially on the weekends when there is less traffic.

“They have been here for as long as I can remember. They are more real to me than you are right now.”

“Okay, fine,” Maelyn continued, “What about that?”

She was pointing to something behind me. I turned to see what was bothering her now. At first, I thought she was upset by the Moa that decided to follow the triceratops across the street to the park, but once I adjusted my eyes to the events in the distance, I noticed a young woman, who looked remarkably like Maelyn.

“What about it?” I asked.

“That’s me,” she stated, “How can there be two of me?”

“Well, that’s simple.”

“Excuse me? Simple? What could possibly be simple about TWO of me existing at the same time? And on the same street!”

“There is supposed to be two of you.”

Maeyln clearly did not like this explanation, so I continued, “Whatever is, whatever exists, is supposed to exist. You can choose to make their existence as simple or as complicated as you want, but understand that whatever meaning you decided to give something, that’s on you. Don’t get upset with me, or a group of baby triceratops, or for your younger self for just being, just existing.”

I’m not sure if I was getting through to her. She obviously seemed displeased by my explanation, but I wasn’t interested in this conversation any longer, so I turned to walk away. I could hear Maelyn shouting at me as I walked down the street. It didn’t sound like she was following me though, which made me happy. I only had a limited amount of patience, and my coffee was getting cold. As I tried to pass the younger Maelyn, she waved to catch my attention and then pointed behind me. I turned, to see Maelyn in her white uniform being startled by something. A loud noise perhaps? I couldn’t hear it, if there was one, but who am I to assume? I watched her vanish then I turned to head home. I had a book that needed to be read, and seeing how this was going to be my only day off this week, I wanted to relax, maybe even take a nap this afternoon. Yes, I think I need some extra sleep.

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