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February 1, 2017 in Trinidad, CO
©2020 Annette Meserve
A barista, an old woman's web of mystery, and a tip jar.
Aromas of water through roasted grounds wended their steamy way, fulfilling the desires of those with fingers around warm cups, tantalizing those yet standing in line.
"What can I get you?" John asked across the counter.
The old woman's answer was soft, oddly punctuated by a faint clicking,
"I'd like a small coffee, thank you, with room for cream, if you please. I do love cream! Don't you?"
John only nodded and accepted her payment. Cash. Exact change. Her dark eyes twinkled, strangely familiar as he held a small mug under the air pot's spout.
"I'd love to travel too," she persisted.
Barely tall enough to perch wrinkly elbows on the counter, still this little old woman reached past cellophane-wrapped cookies and reusable straws with an adorable spunk to tap one elongated finger meaningfully on the rim of the tip jar. She smiled as if sealing a secret pact between them then squeezed back into the crowd.
The next day, and the next, she payed her exact change with none given to the tip jar that she never failed to tap.
"I think the train would be nice," she would remark, or
"You ride the train, don't you?" or,
"I haven't seen a train, of course, but I hear people talk."
On the third day, looking up at one of the ceiling's cobweb-filled corners, she said,
"I've never traveled away from just this spot." Then, seeming to consider the tip jar more carefully, she went on in her slow, clicking way, "Yessss, I think I will ride just there, if you please Ian, when you take me to the train..."
An evening of Myth and Poetry