“I could kill for coffee right now,” I say to Mark. He’s looking at me like he’s had the worst day of his life, which is definitely his everyday look. For some reason, I find it hilarious. Minutes later, I try to hide my glee as we arrive at the coffee house. I’ve been dreaming of that cappuccino all day. You might think it’s funny to obsess over something so small. It’s kind of a reward for me. I’m rewarding myself for living another day.
Mark looks at the menu. “I want mine dark. No sugar.”
I approach the counter as he walks away. “Hi, I’d like a Cappuccino, iced, unsweetened. And strawberry mocha for my friend, extra sweet,” I nod towards Mark, who’s idly standing over a few feet away to wait for his order.
After I’m handed Mark’s drink I turn to him but he’s not there. I look around. Darkness. The shop’s gone. So are the people.
“I can have that,” someone says. I turn and meet with a hooded figure, who’s already reaching for the drink.
“That’s for my friend.”
“I’m your friend,” the figure says, now sipping through a straw. “Yummy,” he has strawberry cream smeared all over his mouth.
“I’m sorry, who are you?”
“Bill the reaper. I’m here to take your life.” He checks his watch. “In about 24 hours. Anyway, this is awesome.” He leans in, drinking heartily as I try to figure out who came up with this stupid prank.
“Don’t act like this is a surprise,” he says.
“Oh?” Now he looks surprised. As surprised as someone with empty eye sockets and no skin can look. He’s a skeleton who’s sipping on a strawberry mocha while tapping his Nike clad foot.
“You’re sponsored by Nike?” I ask.
He lets go of the straw. “Wouldn’t that be rad?” He sighs. “But no. This is more like a government job.”
Of course it is. “Right.”
He smirks, I think. ”I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes I make these deals with mortals I really really like.”
“And what do you get in return?”
“A favor, usually.” He pauses. “But in your case, I just want you to give up coffee,” He says as he takes another sip from his drink before continuing, “All kinds of coffee. Cold. Hot. Sweet. Fresh. Instant.”
“Nope. You’ll give up something trivial and I’ll give you something precious in return: time.”
I wave my hands around the darkness, which used to be the coffee shop. “This is my only pleasure.”
“I’m sorry,” he takes another long sip.
God damn. “Okay,” I say. “Just do it.”
He laughs. “That’s hilarious.”
He stands straight, the drink in his hand disappears. He looks at me or in my general direction with his non-existent eyes. He touches my forehead as he makes the sound “Boop,” and I’m back at the coffee shop with Mark who’s looking impatient. I look at my hand and see that I’m holding an iced cappuccino.
I push the cup toward Mark, who of course, fails to hold it and is now covered in iced cappuccino. He looks at his stained, dripping suit, then back at me.
“You okay?” He asks simply.
“I’m fine,” I say, hurriedly moving to get him a napkin. “Sorry. I was trying not to die.”
He tilts his head like a puppy and nods because that obviously makes sense.
“Right, from the cappuccino.” He looks around the counter. “Where’s my coffee?”
I shake my head. “It’s not important, Mark. Coffee is a no, now.”
“A what now?”
“A no. Something we won’t do from now on.”
“You just decided that.”
“Trust me. I know things.”
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