She noticed something was different as she was crossing the road via the footbridge, but did not grasp the severity of the situation straight away. What caught her eye was the unfamiliar block of pinky-peach shop-front on the corner and, when she looked directly at it, she began to admire the artistic graffiti-style signage. “Javaholic”, it said, in a curvy wave.
Fuck! That’s the coffee-shop!
The realization brought her to a sudden halt. Yes, there was no doubt about it: the coffee-shop was closed. Slowly, she began to walk again, her brain desperately trying to adjust to this new and unforeseen situation. She was early today too, taking it for granted that she could just drink her Americano at a more leisurely pace to waste the extra few minutes. It was miserable, grey, damp and cold morning, so sitting in the park with a supermarket takeaway coffee was not an option.
She had reached street-level again and had stopped in front of the café. Five or six of the other regulars were there too: the pompous businessman; the hefty pair of black-haired female office staff that always sat outside smoking and gossiping before work; the Dutch man with his baby, now blocking the path with the oversized buggy instead of the passageway like he usually did. All of them had a similar look of shock, fear and bewilderment on their faces, which probably mirrored the look on her own. They glanced briefly at each other, but didn’t speak. One by one, they drifted off in their separate directions.
It took her until midday that day before she felt able to function properly, by which time her colleagues were sick of listening to her grouch.
The next day, all was back to normal. The shutters were up, everybody was back at their usual table, ignoring the other regulars as usual.
But there was a humility in their smiles, and when they said “thank you” as they received their coffees, it sounded genuine.