EXIT

[Inspired by this block by Write World]

The cafe had sprung out of nowhere on Canal Street, and the bright sign that advertised its existence drew you in. All it says is CAFE. The restaurant’s interior is unremarkable, but its people spark your interest. None of them speak to each other. There are at least two dozen customers, but none of them speak to each other. None of them read, and none of them speak. They sit in silence with straight backs and forward eyes. In their claw-like hands, they clutch cups of coffee.

You have only taken a few steps inside, but the sight of these people has unnerved you. You turn to leave, and your eyes catch the exit sign. It hangs at an angle. The light in the X has gone out, and the E is only half-lit.

A small table is to the right of the door, and three black-eyed teenagers sit unmoving. You try to speak to them, and when they do not answer, you try the people near them, but no one will tell you why the exit sign is crooked. You look to it again, and you notice the flecks of rust-colored something on the white frame. You should lea

You crave coffee. You fantasize about drinking it, and the stench of freshly ground beans sets your mouth to watering. You turn around and go to order. The barista does not move from where she has been standing since you arrived. She says nothing when you approach. The only signs of life in her are her slow, measured blinks and the light trembling in her hands.

You tell her your drink order, but she ignores you. You ask her if she’s okay, but she says nothing. You think she may be injured. You try to see if there is another worker, but there is no one. She is alone here.

You turn to the room of customers, wondering if one of them has answers. All of them have turned to stare at you. You stare back, and your eyes go to the exit sign. You ask them why it is crooked, but they are as silent as they have always been. You try to remain calm as you walk to the exit. You reach out your hand to op

Your coffee is ready. You don’t know how you know this, but it is like a fact written into your DNA. You turn around and see a cup of steaming coffee at the bar. It is yours.

When you take it, the steam dissipates. It is cold now, but you drink it. It tastes like dust. You don’t want this, but you keep it held firmly in both your hands. You need to leave.

You turn around. No one looks at you anymore. Whatever interest they once held has gone. When you arrived, there had been no empty seats, but now there is one — an old, discolored armchair near the serving bar. You look at the exit sign. You want to know why it is crooked. You want to lea

You step to the right, where your seat waits you. You sit and hold your coffee, staring ahead at the wall. The door to the cafe opens.

2 comments on “EXIT

  1. I was captivated. I felt as if I was in that cafe, staring blankly as You took your cup away. I have always found stories written in the present tense to have this almost outworldly charm, there’s no sense of finality, but the anticipation, the suspense of what may happen in the immediate future. I loved it.

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