A Lot to Say


Image by Emre Can Acer via Pexels

By Brandon Lu and Abigail Graf

On a cold winter afternoon, buried deep within the barren trees of the local park, walks a man. His figure isn’t noticeable from a distance, but upon coming closer, one can note worn bandages coating his arms and legs, a few spare bandaids protecting his fingers, hidden away by old leather gloves. He knows the park inside and out, and walked it a great many times, gone and unwatched the tourists that make their way from place to place. His clothes may be battered, but they’ve served him well, a constant companion for the many seasons of his life, and the many seasons of the years he’s wandered about this place. Though the cold air of the looming winter pierces through the paper-thin gloves on his calloused hands, the first reminder of the long battle against the snow that awaits him. He’d buy a packet of hand warmers, or perhaps a sturdy blanket, though he has no money to his name. He’d snagged a dime from the almost frozen wishing fountain, the right time to spend it far away. 

Each day, the man looks to the coffee shop around the corner, his eyes traveling up and down the wooden exterior that grows aged with him. Day by day, he waits for the moment to slip inside its doors and escape the park’s cold clutches to exchange them for the warmth within. Today, with only a couple of tourists winding their way through the park, he finds that chance. Bandaged legs moving forward one by one, the man scurries inside, hoping to keep himself warm, preparing for the cold days ahead. 

On that same winter day, buried deep within the bookcases that line the cozy coffee shop of the small town, sits the cashier. Although young, she’s seen the seasons pass by from within the confines of coffee shops, cafes, and anywhere that’s willing to have someone work. Time passes slowly behind the glass, but with ease as souls pass through shop by shop, looking for a small gift to carry with them on their journeys. She’s seen her fair share of people- tall, short, young, old- though little impact they’ve all had on her.
When the bells chime to rouse her from her thoughts, she sees someone who appears familiar, but distant. His hands, with worn leather gloves and bandaged finger tips, linger for a moment on the counter, leaving behind a single dime. The cashier hadn’t expected the meager offering, more surprised when a voice speaks from in front of her, a simple order. One small cup of black coffee. The cashier was confused, as she knew one dime could not be enough for one small cup. However, she was also intrigued. Every person who swept through every coffee shop she’d worked demanded and gave over the money with little thought. The man that stood in front of her kindly offered a dime, and in his eyes looked to be buried a hopeful glance. It was unlike anything she’d seen before- so with small hands that had never seen the bitter cold, she took the dime with a smile. She turned around once, about to go straight to the brewing machine, but then turned to once again face the man. He looked at her, old eyes waiting for a question. “There’s one more thing I need from you,” she said, the dime long put away. “Tell me your story, in exchange for this cup of coffee. You look like you have a lot to say.”