I Went Outside Today

        The street was bathed in twilight, with popping pinks and vibrant reds dancing across the sky and coming to rest on the sleepy sidewalks and the glistening buildings. The skyscrapers cast long shadows across the world, so dark that one who stayed inside them might believe themselves to be dreamlessly asleep. The street lamps were lit, but they were mere ghostly apparitions in the monolithic shadows. Occasionally, a lone car would pass by on the road, or a pedestrian would wander along the streets, not hurrying at all. I was one of them. I walked along, looking about, looking up, taking in the sights and sounds. But I wasn’t walking without purpose. On the contrary, I knew exactly where I was headed. Just down the street, I could see it.

         Nestled in the shadows, there was a warm, golden glow emanating from a building on the corner. As I walked closer, I saw a raised, fenced platform, with little tables and chairs on top, and big, red awning covering it all. I saw a few people seated at the tables, chatting, sipping coffee, eating pastries. There was a great, wall-length window behind them, through which I could see the warm, brown, golden coffee shop within. And, as I rounded the corner, I read the familiar sign at the door. 

     “Lloyd’s” it said, in humble cursive. I smiled, as always, when the bell on the door chimed; when I felt the familiar warmth on my skin; when I heard the soft, smooth jazz and piano playing in the background; and when I saw Lloyd look up and greet me with his own perfect, white smile.

       “Hey, Lloyd! Long time, no see.”

           “Long time, indeed.” he said, in his smooth, deep voice. “How are you?”

      “Well, I’m a little surprised you’re open right now.”

                “There’s no coronavirus to quarantine here, friend.” he lowered his voice to a mock-whisper “And of, course, no government to quarantine us.”

        We both chuckled a little.

            “What’ll it be today?” he asked, “Red Zinger?”

        “I think I’ll have a chai today.”

                 “Of course, anything else? A muffin, perhaps?”

             I nodded, smiled, and as he went off to get my order, I walked over to my usual seat, over in the corner, by the window. As I gazed out the window, I saw the quiet, sparse streets begin to awaken somewhat, as the fading light of the sun gives way to the brightness of the lights of the city in the night. I slowly sipped my spiced, sweet tea, munched my soft, sweet muffin, and listened to the music and chatter of the shop through my headphones. 

       My phone vibrated in my pocket, and I opened my eyes. I turned off the alarm, shut off the music I was playing, and closed my laptop. I put my headphones and laptop away and sighed. I’m grateful for the time I spent there, but I know that I can never stay at Lloyd’s forever. Still, I can always visit him tomorrow.

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