Sitting on a chair, I hear the ebb and flow of their chattering. An incessant gaggle of words jumping around haphazardly to connect into crude sentences that convey meaning – despite the irony of not really holding any beyond the superficiality of their masters. To my right flank, two older women -mid 50s, by the looks off their sagging flesh and style of dress, sober and guarded- , yapping about like two small dogs who just finished a session of electroshock therapy. Their discourse does not extend beyond the trivialities of shopping and gossip of mutual acquaintances. My head feels two sizes too small to hold their words, I simply massage my temples in an attempt to fend off the brain aneurysm that risks hitting me at any second now. To my left flank a young man that appears to be all business by the suit and tie he sports. Legs crossed, sipping his espresso he loudly talks to an unseen party on his table. Transactions, dealings and weekends at luxurious far away retreats are his topics. If not for the electronic earpiece logged on his ear I’d think him a madman trying to drive me insane on purpose instead of merely by accident. My ill will towards him is not lessened by this knowledge. On my back it is the prattle of the general crowd, too indistinctive to gather any personalities, instead feeling as if I was inside a chicken coop with all the hens clucking away. Finally, to my front, a blessed window to the outside. People of all ages, shapes and sizes move back and forth on the sidewalk out front at different pace, yet I find a rhythm to their walking that soothes my nerves a bit.
They say a cafe is a place of relaxation where a person can find inspiration and peace to create, yet my experience has only been limited to exasperation and frustration. Too much noise, too many voices that almost drown my own. I fight a constant battle to have my own voice be heard, and whenever I attempt to write something down, my words shift from telling a story to displaying my annoyance at the noise in the cafe.
Yet I am compelled to come and stay for extended periods of time. My addiction for coffee is too strong, and this place has free refills after your fifth cup. It’s burnt most of the time. It keeps me awake, and that is what I want, above all things.
Lest the nightmares come.
Whenever I close my eyes and fall into realms of slumber I see them. No, that’s not quite true. If I did I would probably remember their faces clearly. God knows I already keep memory of everything else. Mostly fangs, claws and eyes. Biting, scratching and leering over my flesh. But I cannot scream, I am a mute in my own dream and can only watch in silent horror. Eventually, I wake up, shivering and sweating. Takes me a breath or two to remember where I am -usually my bed, sometimes an alley- and calm myself, then I always go to the cafe. And wait, while going a little bit more crazy one cup of coffee at a time.
Lately words have failed me more than usual. The blank page where I opened my notebook faces me mockingly, daring me to try and peen even the shortest of sentences. It’s been three hours since I sat down, trying to write. Nothing comes through save for the noise, and I cannot make heads out of it. A desperation grabs ahold of my writing hand as I place the tip of my ballpoint pen firmly over the paper, a small blue dot of ink pools around it. Hesitant, I hold it there until my hand starts to move as if by its own volition, slowly but determined. Two words are formed after I lift the pen from the page. Small, almost fragile, among the vast empty space of the page they were birthed on. Two simple words that say so much:
Slowly, I raise my eyes to stare outside the window shop. People keep walking, no one turning back to aid me. I am alone. My mug is filled for the tenth time today, but I can’t taste the inky blackness anymore.