Quiet Café

Marianne cowered at her table clutching a coffee, the warmth the only comfort she could find in a café of noise and overwhelming action.

“Really Jennifer, I don’t think – ”

“That’s not what I said, Steve – ”

“Can I get another latte?!”

“How are you!”

Marianne hated noise. Normally the café was her solace, a quiet place for solitude among strangers. There were always people coming in for drinks, but weekdays meant most came, ordered, and left for work right after. By ten o’clock, it was just the freelancers and stay-at-home parents, and while a baby could cry, it wasn’t the whirl of conversation Saturday seemed to bring.

“I was thinking we should – ”

“That’s what I mean, it’s – ”

“That’s the stupidest song I’ve ever – ”

“You know what I thought of that movie?”

“Latte number five, on order! Extra cream!”

The sound was building, had been steadily doing so for fifteen minutes, and everyone was shouting now. They might as well be drill sergeants, and Marianne, at her little one-person table (since someone had taken the other chair to fill their table out) clutched her coffee harder, glad for the ceramic rather than the paper cups the baristas were now giving out, but worried it would crack as her knuckles whitened.

“John, can you buy me a croissant?”

“Hello? Yes this is Laura!”

“Sorry, what was that? I can’t hear you!”

“It’s latte season, bring me another!”

Finally Marianne stood. Too long holding on, hoping to be the rock in the stream, hoping that the sound would die down again, but it was only getting worse. She abandoned her coffee, left, the door clanging behind her. Conversation lulled, the café quiet for a moment. Then the murmurs restarted and began to rebuild.

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