What You Do the Morning It All Ends
There is no fucking coffee left.
It takes you a few minutes to figure out how this could be the case. Then you remember: your girlfriend, who works as a nurse on the night shift, used the last to fill a thermos before she left for work. You forgot, because you stayed up too late watching movies and emptied a few bottles of wine without exactly meaning to.
So now your head feels like it’s been turned inside-out and back again, the air smells a little funny, and there is absolutely no coffee.
This just won’t do at all.
There is a supermarket down on the corner, though this knowledge isn’t much comfort. Their coffee selection is generic, mass-produced swill; you prefer the small-batch stuff from the specialty roasters across town.
But they’re so far away, and in your current state you’d need a cup or two just to fortify yourself for the trip, so fuck it. Any port in a storm, as the saying goes.
You don’t bother getting dressed. It won’t be the first time the employees have seen you in your pajamas and sweatshirt.
Probably not the last.
Stepping outside, you notice the sky is a strange orange-lavender hue, the clouds choppy and roiling. You think to yourself about how the smog problem is getting worse every damn month, and remind yourself that you’ve never really found sunrises worth getting up for. This one is just too damned bright your head in it’s current state, so you pull your hood over your head and keep your eyes lowered as you shuffle down the street to the store.
It’s windy this morning, too. Unseasonably so. It occurs to you that you can’t ever remember a breeze that blew upwards towards the sky. Fucking global warming, you think. Screwing up all the weather patterns.
You recognize one of your neighbors, out for his morning jog. Though you’ve lived down the street from each other for a few years, you don’t know his name, mostly because you’ve never had much interest in fitness.
He runs past, and as he does so you hear something that definitely doesn’t sound like the flapping of big leathery wings, because how could it, that’s just something from one of the movies you watched last night. You hear a little cry, like he’s stumbled and fallen, but when you turn he’s long gone. Runs faster than you thought.
If you were less hungover, you might have paid more attention to the lone sneaker left there in the gutter.
The grocery is open when you get there, though no one is manning the front register and some of the overhead lights are flickering. You’re never here this early, and figure they must still be setting up for the workday.
But that’s all the thought you give the matter. You’re here for something else. In the coffee aisle you grab a bag of dark roast Sumatran. Because there is still no one at the register, you leave a ten-dollar bill on the counter.
Outside, the sky is still full of funny colors, and somehow darker even though the sun is now up, and you admit to yourself that you may not be hungover yet; there’s a good chance you’re actually still drunk.
A voicemail from your girlfriend waits on your phone when you get back, but you can listen to that later. First things first.
It feels like it takes forever for the pot to brew, that glass bowl filling up with delicious darkness, and out of the corner of your eye you get the feeling that the horizon outside the window is somehow filling up the same way. Now you’re actually starting to feel hungover, you think.
At last – just when you think you can suffer no more, the machine pings. It smells like liquid heaven, and you pour yourself a mug full.
As that darkness in the sky outside the window congeals into an unfathomable sold dark pool, out of which slither legions of unnameable serpentine and tentacled horrors, you raise the mug to your waiting lips and take that first merciful sip. You roll it around in your mouth for a second before swallowing, savoring the dark earthy flavor.
It tastes like the best cup of coffee you’ll ever have.