And Today

That was all eleven long weeks ago. I eventually found out that Rider’s sorta brother who owns the building Brew is in was the Alex I had given the coffee to that first day. But Alex wasn’t the guy I gave it to – that was Ryan – another sorta brother to Alex and Rider, but none of them were related. It really was all very confusing. Rider had a twin brother, Laker who was pretty much married to Matt. Who was a very odd person. 

Not in the personality department but when I looked at him my entire body seemed to relax. The few times he’d touched my hand when he too his coffee it felt like the world washed away – all color, all sounds, there was nothing. It was odd.

They had a really big family. And they had invited me over for the last barbque of the year on Labor Day, but I was busy. Abby had already invited me to her not-famly barbque and I couldn’t say no to her.

We hadn’t been roommates for well on 2 months now, but we still saw each other everyday. I made her breakfast and she brought me pumpkin pie after her shift at the dinner. And every month she disappeared for three days and I had no idea where she went. Will said she was fine. Armande agreed with him. Everyone including my boss told me not to worry about Abby. But I worried.

I would always worry about my friends – specially those who I felt overly inclined to protect. Abby and Will always seemed to bring trouble to their door steps. I had lost track of the number of times that I’d stepped between someone shouting down at either of them.

Today was no different. I’d been walking back from my shift at Brew with a cup of coffee in my hand. I walked most days – it was good exercise and I always seemed to have an abundance of energy even after a long shift. Several block before I crossed into Harlem proper I heard shouting down an alley way. “You need to get out of here,” a voice growled deep in their throat. It was almost like they didn’t have human vocal cords.

I was about to walk past the mouth of the alley when I heard a familiar voice, “Dude, I live here, back the fuck off.” Will had found yet another reason for someone to try and bitch slap him back across some imaginary line drawn in the sand. It was fucking stupid.

I sighed and stepped into the alley way, “Why do you always have to pick on the little guys.” Will wasn’t little, he was an inch taller than I was, but he was toothpick thin. But still he was a lot stronger than he looked.

“Nox, just go. I got this.” He said. But the guy pinning him to the wall thumped him hard against the wall and there was a crack of bone. Will looked stunned.

“Just let him go. He’s just going home.” I said again.

This time the guys in the shadows took a few steps towards me. I rolled my eyes, “Really?”

It wasn’t a moment later before they both rushed me. There were three of them. And it wasn’t the first time I nailed the first one in the throat, ducked his punch, swept the legs out from the second guy and in my swinging momentum round house kicked the third in the head. I didn’t know where I learned to do it, and I didn’t question it at any time. I just reacted – it was muscle memory even if I didn’t remember it myself.

The guy pinning Will to the wall looked at me, “Who the fuck are you?”

Will chuckled, “He’s no one. Just get out of here before he hurts you.”

The man looked at Will then at me, then back at Will. He tossed the other man into a garbage pile like Will was a rag doll. He and his friends all ran off down the alley leaving me to help will out of the pile of black garbage bags.

“Thanks. But I had it. Now they’ll just come at me again.”

I shrugged, “Whatever line you are crossing is it worth it?” 

Will nodded, “Yeah it is. Those guys are just ass hats. The shouldn’t even be this far across their own lines. They wouldn’t dare catch me in Harlem.”

“No, just the guys in Harlem harass Abby.”

Will sighed. “She won’t leave. Rider offered her a place to stay when the heat started picking up on us. But she won’t leave.” He growled, “Mostly because of you, honestly.”

“Me?” I asked as we rounded the corner of the alley we’d jsut left. 

“Yeah, you. She doesn’t want to leave you there alone.”

“I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.”

Will laughed, “I’m sure you can, man, but you know how women are. She thinks she’s being all motherly for you and you are the one who’s taken care of her.” He clapped me on the back, “Which I’m utterly grateful for by the way. The food is epic. You should find a place to cook at for real.”

I shrugged, “I just do it for me. I wouldn’t want that pressure.”

“Yeah all that pressure. I’ve never seen someone do what you do in the coffee line. There ain’t a regular who doesn’t know your name, and I don’t know how many people have come in just because you are making the coffee.”

I shrugged, “A talent I guess.”

“You got everything under control there. I’m surprised Alex hasn’t made you shift manager yet. Probably afraid Rider will take some of the business with him if he were to leave.”

He’d never fire his brother. I knew that much and I should have said as much but we were at the brownstone and I climbed down the stairs to my studio apartment, “Tell Abby I said hi.”

He grinned at me, “Sure thing.”

Never Have I ever…

The Rules

  • Link and thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Include the graphic somewhere in the post (or make your own!)
  • Answer the questions truthfully and honestly.
  • Tag 3 bloggers.

Ambrose and Elsie writer nominated AJ for this so I’ll let her use my space to answer these fun questions.

…started a novel that I didn’t finish.

All the time. Sometimes it’s because the idea fizzles sometimes it’s because the story just doesn’t work.

…written a story completely by hand.

Once. It was a short story I wrote in highschool. I transferred it later to the computer, Computers weren’t really a big thing back then. I did most of my writing by hand then.

…changed tenses midway through a story.

Yes. But not on purpose.

…not researched anything before starting a story.

Yes. Probably. But typically I write in the same city and world so I haven’t had to do a lot of research before hand.

…changed my protagonist’s name halfway through a draft.

I’ve changed his last name when I decided to separate the identity of his created RP character and my original fiction.

…written a story in a month or less.

Yes. Maybe. I don’t know if I’ve written it all in a month but I’ve tried anyway. I have participated in NaNo many years in a row.

…fallen asleep while writing

No. I can’t say as I have. I don’t typically fall asleep at my computer.

…corrected someone’s grammar IRL/online?

No. I don’t do this.

…yelled in all caps at myself in the middle of my novel.

No.

…used “I’m writing” as an excuse.

Not really.

…killed a character that was based on someone I know in real life.

Nope. I don’t write characters based on people I know.

…used pop culture references in a story.

Yes, many many times.

…written between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Yes. I’ve written after 1am but not much later. And I wake up at 4am so I write all the time between 4 and 6 am.

…drank an entire pot of coffee while writing.

Nope. I have at most 2 cups of coffee any given day.

…written down dreams to use in potential novels.

No. Not really. I don’t remember my dreams. I have some lucid dreams to fall asleep but I don’t typically write them down unless they lead to part of the story

…published an unedited story on the internet/blog/Wattpad.

If you are here you’ve been reading them. Lots and lots of them.

…procrastinated homework because I wanted to write.

Nope. I didn’t really write while I had homework.

…typed so long that my wrists hurt.

Yes. But that’s not hard.

…spilled a drink on my laptop while writing.

God no. OMG no. Laptop…

…forgotten to save my work/draft

I’ve done this on occasion, or my syncing mechanism messed something up. Thankfully I either find it or I used software that did a really good job of saving things I could get too.

…finished a novel.

Several actually.

…laughed like an evil villain while writing a scene.

No. That would be mean, the voice in my head would refuse to talk to me for weeks.

…cried while writing a scene.

Absolutely. All the time

…created maps of my fictional worlds.

Yes. Many. And I’m plotting the points of my real world location. I think Nox linked to it somewhere.

…researched something shady for a novel.

Yes. Many things. The biggest one I remember is what would the fall out look like if I nuked all the power plants around the world.

Nominations

I don’t have any nominations. I don’t follow enough bloggers. If anyone wants to join in go for it!

The Interview

Brew was busy as I walked into the cafe. There were three people behind the counter, a young man who nodded his head when I arrived. He couldn’t be more than sixteen. An older man, and a young woman who was taking cash at the register from a patron. She slipped a few dollars into her palm and slid it into her pocket before putting the remainder in the till. She wasn’t very good at skimming if I managed to catch her. I wondered if anyone else had seen it.

The young man with deep brown eyes and a messy mop of hair came over to me, “You must be Nox.” He held out his hand, “I’m Rider.”

“A pleasure.” I shook his hand and I felt a shock of electricity run through my body. I jerked my hand away, “Sorry, must have picked up a charge somewhere.”

The boy, no Rider, he looked at me with wide eyes but he smiled, “No problem. Happens all time.” He waved his hand in front of him, “Let’s go in the back.”

I followed him, he was an inch or two taller than I was but we had the same build. He felt familiar as I followed him. And there was this innate desire to please him – to make him happy yet I knew nothing of him or why I would want to do that.

He sat down behind a desk, and I sat in front of it. “I’m sorry but you can’t be more than sixteen.”

He laughed, “You noticed. My sorta brother kinda owns the place, and he left me in charge when I’m not in class.”

“You must have quite the business sense on you then.” I grinned.

“Not really. I have other talents that help, and we have Will who does all the managerial stuff at night so I can do the things I need to do during the day. It’s really a team effort.”

I nodded, “Then you noticed the girl at the register skimming the till as she waited on that cash customer.”

Rider stood up and looked over at the girl and held out his finger. “You sure about that.”

I nodded, “Couldn’t miss it.”

Rider sat back down and tapped away at the computer and he turned the screen so that I could see it, “Where?”

I watched it backwards and waited until the camera caught it. It wasn’t obvious from that angle, “There.” I pointed. And Rider slowed the images down and then he saw it. “Thanks we’ve been trying to figure out who was doing that. I’ll be right back.”

Rider got up and I heard him pull the girl aside and fire her. No warning, no reason, just fired. And when he came back he was grinning, “Well, it looks like we have an opening. How about an on the job interview? Let’s see how well you can handle it.”

I shrugged, “I’ve never done this before – at least I don’t think so.”

He smiled at me, “I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem.” He went into a back room and pulled out an apron and a paper hat with Brew logo on it, “Our uniform, wear it proudly.” 

I slide the apron on and tucked my head into the paper hat and stepped out to the cafe area. “Sam, this is Nox. He’s here on a trial basis. I’ll ring up the orders, you teach him the ropes.”

Sam nodded, “Alright.” 

The line was out the door we were in for a busy few hours. The first order came in and Sam showed me how the screens worked and then he set to showing me the machines. The first three or four orders I watched while he did the serving. The machines were easy to use and there was some niggling of a memory of those machines like I knew more than I actually did. 

“Can I read the order list and ingredients?”

Sam frowned, “Yeah. I guess.” He rummaged through a folder on the counter and pulled out the list, “This is how you make everything.”

I looked over at Rider and raised my voice when he was between customers, “You mind if I read these real quick? And then let me have a go?”

Rider’s eyebrow rose but he nodded, “Sure. Take as long as you need, just step in the office.” He looked at Sam and the other man shrugged. I did as I was instructed and read through the three pages of instructions twice. It was all relatively simple, and most of the had a similar pattern.

I stepped out and put the papers back in the folder, “Let me have a go?”

Sam nodded and stepped aside. Rider rang up the next drink I looked at the screen and saw all the modifications. Sam snickered but it wasn’t difficult, the carmel latte with skim milk instead of whole, with chocolate and non-fat whipped cream wasn’t all that unusual and I whipped it up and doodle their name on the cup like I was supposed and called out their name, “Drea.” 

Drea walked up and I gave her a sweet smile, “Have a great day.” I said as she picked up her drink. I turned back to the machine and started the next two drinks. Nothing special about them, a coffee with two sugars and cream, and the other was just straight up black.

The name was Alex and I drew it with fondness. The letters feeling more like habit than anything else I’d written. I called out the name, “Alex.” And set the two cups of coffee on the counter. A man came up laughing at something the other guy with him had said. His blonde hair and green eyes jabbed at a memory but it slipped away as soon as he turned away to join the man with jet black hair. “Have a great day.” I called after him.

He turned around and winked, “You too man. Doing a great job.” He gave me a thumbs up and headed out the door.

My first day on the job netted me not only a job, but a fifty bucks I didn’t have. So I bought a cup of coffee for Abby I got her order from Will, I picked up a steak and some veggies and a bottle of red wine that would pair well with everything and Abby and I would celebrate – a new life.

My Dream guy

And just like every night since waking up I dreamt of the same haunting blue eyes with an infamous smirk and a voice that makes my insides quiver.

The strangeness of the dream was comforting yet foreign all at the same time. I figured it was something I had done before but didn’t remember. The land was strange, it blinked and shimmered and I felt like many things were missing. There was nothing to do here, yet I felt it was an important place.

That second dream there was a soft noise behind me and I turned to find another stranger. Though he wasn’t a stranger I recognized him from the TV show I had just been watching. Q was just another face, however, because I recognized those bright blue eyes and smiled widely at him. “Hey.” I said.

“Hey yourself, why did you bring me here?”

“I didn’t.” I said.

“You called me, so I came.”

“I didn’t call you.” I frowned, “I was thinking about how you wore the face of a man in a TV show I was watching. I fell asleep.”

“You know you are sleeping and yet you say you didn’t call me.”

“Come on tell me this looks like you in reality?”

He smirked and on that face it looked strange, but I liked that smirk, “It is a strange place, what it is?”

I shrugged, “I don’t know. I feel like I should but I don’t.” I smiled at him wishing he’d come closer and all of a sudden he was standing inches from me instead of yards away. “Why did you wear this face?” I asked

“You were thinking about the other face, and the TV show so I’d play to that.”

“You don’t want me to know who you really are?” I frowned.

“I don’t want anyone to know who I am.”

“So you visit other dreams?” I asked

“I haven’t in a while, this is the second time in the same number of days that I have. I haven’t had the need, or desire until now.”

“So you are saying I’m breaking your bubble of abstinence.” I grinned.

“Something like that Pretty Boy.”

Electricity ran through my body at those words. Something about the way he said them. I didn’t know why he made me feel this way. But he felt like home, much like Abby had earlier in the day.

“Who’s Abby?”

“My new roommate. While I stay at a friends place until I can get on my feet.”

“Like family?”

“I feel like family?”

“Are you reading my mind?” I asked with a frown.

“Sorta,” he said, “You leak information, I’m not doing it on purpose.”

“I’m sorry.” I said and I woke myself up from the dream. The couch was uncomfortable and my back was sore. The time on my watch read 2am. I might as well get up. Something told me I’d be up in a few hours anyway.

I don’t know how I remembered, but I did a completely body weight workout mixed with yoga and never even missed a beat out in the park just down the road. It wasn’t Central Park, but it had grass and the likes and it was working for me. But even yoga and sweating didn’t keep the memory of that voice and those blue eyes from my mind. It was the only thing I could think about.

I made it back to Abby’s apartment in time for a shower and to make her breakfast before she woke up. The bacon and the coffee roused her early. “You making me breakfast?” she asked looking at the table settings for two.

“I figure it’s the least I can do if I’m going to eat your food.”

She laughed. “I could get used to this, even Will never cooked for me.”

“I’m sure he made you a killer cup of coffee though.”

Abby sat down with a fresh cup of coffee and sipped at it with a moan, “Nope – never like this.”

I shrugged, “Then why is he a night shift manager?”

She grinned, “Because he’s a good business man. He ran stocks some time ago, but he didn’t like it. But he knows how to pull in the crowds.”

“Interesting.” I smiled as I plated the bacon and eggs and set a plate for Abby then dished up my own. “I’ll just keep cooking for you, I don’t think I’ll ever bring home the bacon.” I grinned at my play on words which made Abby laugh.

It might not be the best place on the planet, but I felt at home here. Abby wasn’t my blood but it was easy to get along with her, she felt like family and I’d only known her a few hours.

She helped me prep for the interview at Brew later that morning. I didn’t really need much prep work – not really. You make coffee to order. So Abby tried to stump me as I started mixing whatever she asked for. Needless to say she drank a lot of coffee that morning.

Eleven Weeks Ago

New York City, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps – a moniker that was true no matter how hard you tried to hide the fact. Lights were always on, sirens always blared. I had memories of mountains, but I couldn’t recall when or how I had ever seen them. But I had once in my life and it didn’t matter now, I wasn’t sure I would even know what to do when out of a city.

Even with no memory of who I was before I woke up on that park bench by the officer, I knew how to survive here. They weren’t memories, more like instinct, but they were there. And a few hours after wandering the city at night I found myself standing in front of an old brown stone building in Harlem. The buildings were all owned by someone I had once known – I think. I didn’t remember but I still walked in, in the middle of the night. The front door was unlocked and there was an old blind man sitting on the stairs watching me even as I walked in. 

He’d heard me open the door despite the lack of the classic bell jingling. It was an apartment complex after all, but still. The man muttered, “Damn, smells good around here.” He clears his throat, I assume he hadn’t meant to say that out loud for me to hear then he asked, “Can I help you?”

I gave him a slight nod and smiled brightly at him, “I need a place to stay. I don’t have any money on me.” I patted down my pockets and only had my wallet with no ID, or money or anything. I didn’t think I had been robbed, but I wondered how I could have lived without one. “I woke up in Central Park and I don’t remember anything.”

The old man gave me a toothy grin and sniffed at the air strangely. “Lies have their own smell and I believe you,” he said. “Until you get on your feet you can stay with a friend of mine. And then there will be a place for you here as well.”

I smiled. “Thank you.”

He stood up and guided me to an upstairs apartment. For being blind he got around rather well. His hand never touched the wall, his feet never dragged. He dodged the child rolling across the floor on his bike. “Don’t you belong in bed Carlos?”

“Mama has a man friend over, Mr. Armande,” the child replied looking up at the old blind man.

He didn’t knock on the door just turned the knob and pushed it open. “Abby, I have a roommate for you.”

A small woman walked out of the bathroom drying her hands on a towel. There was a strange sense of deja vu as I looked at her big amber colored eyes. Her smile brightened the room, “Armande, why do you keep bring in strays who won’t pay?”

The old man laughed, “He will pay when he remembers who he is.” Armande looked at me with a tooth grin, “I have a feeling about him. It will be good.” He pointed to the couch, “It pulls out into a bed, Abby is used to guests.”

Abby laughed, “I live here free of charge since I was run out of my old home by my ex-boyfriend. I can’t afford a place on my own. Armande allows me to stay here as long as I put up with his entering and exiting, and his incessant need to house strays with me.”

I grinned at her, “I appreciate the offer but I don’t want to be a burden.”

She shook her head and marched over to me and put her finger in my face, “You will not leave this apartment until you have a job and a place to stay.” She backed off with a shy smile, “Except of course to go look for said job. There are plenty of places you can pay to stay here once you have that. Armande will keep one warm for you.”

Armande chuckled, “Of course Abby. Tell Will when you see him again, he might find your new roommate useful in filling that position.” And with a quick turn of his heel he was out the door, I went to follow to thank him but when I reached the hall he was gone. What?

Abby was snickering as I walked back inside the room frowning. “He does that sometimes. You’ll get used to it.”

Later that night I met Will. Abby took me out for a cup of coffee – on her she said. I had no money. Hell I didn’t have anything but the clothes on my back.

We went all the way across town to a brand new coffee shop that had opened. Abby raved about it, “A good friend of a friend opened the place so he wouldn’t have to walk far for a great cup of coffee.” She chuckled, “He lives upstairs.”

“That’s cool. And the bar by the same name?” I asked.

She laughed, “I don’t remember exactly why he opened a beer bar when he doesn’t drink beer. There was a reason but I’ve forgotten it. He’s not very open about it I might not have ever known.”

“The beer any good?” I asked.

“Oh it’s excellent. Best IPs and home made brews I’ve ever had. Probably from all those years learning about that sort of thing.” Abby said.

“I thought you said he didn’t like beer.”

“Oh, he doesn’t, but the friend I was talking about he helps with the brews. Ryan is sort of a chemist I think. Silly sweet boy who is way older than he looks.”

We sat down at a table in the corner of the coffee shop and Will I presumed came over and took my order, “What will you have?”

“Just a black coffee.”

“You can order anything, it’s alright.” Abby said.

“I only want a black coffee, as big as you can but just black please. I don’t do all the other stuff in it.”

Will left and Abby was laughing at me as she turned back from watching the man walk away gracefully. “You remember you don’t like sugary sweet milky things, but not who you are.”

I laughed. “I remember things as they come to me. Like my name. I know it’s Nox. I don’t know my last name. I don’t know where I was born, though I think it was out west somewhere, small childhood memories of the mountains and all that. I don’t know where I went to school, or what I’m good at. I don’t know if anyone will miss me, or if there was anyone at all to begin with.”

Abby frowned, “Well now you got me and Will.”

Will came over and set my black coffee in a very large mug on the table, “The biggest we got. Abby tells me you need a job. What hours can you work?”

“Whenever you want, but I don’t know if I can make coffee.” I grinned, “I could be a clutz or something.”

Abby chuckled, “Armande has a good feeling about him.”

“A good feeling, eh?” Will nodded, “Come in tomorrow morning, I’ll set up an interview with my boss. Abby will throw in a good word with Rider.” He was looking at Abby with a bright grin begging for an yes, “And I’ll let him decide if Armande’s feeling is right.”

“Does Armande have these feelings often?”

Will chuckled, “Every so often. They don’t always pan out, but we haven’t had a complaint yet.” Abby and Will were both grinning madly.

“He set you up didn’t he?”

Will laughed, “I was one of his strays a few months back, he set me up as Abby’s roommate. He had a good feeling about me.”

I laughed, “I see.”

And that was how I pretty much got a job and an apartment all in one night of not knowing who I was. And now it’s eleven weeks later, and I have my own studio apartment in what the residents collectively call Safe Harbor. Armande still has a good feeling about me even though I don’t really know what that means.

Strange Landscape

The darkness was cold and harsh, but soon it gave way to something warm and bright and I looked around seeing things that were beyond extraordinary. The darkness before was full of pain, like my whole body had fallen asleep and the pins and needles enveloped my whole being. But here in this strange landscape there was nothing but peace as I stared at the barren tree in the middle of a dying field. The green grass was dying, I could almost imagine the lush field it had been once. The trees on the horizon were browning and nothing like the landscapes I’d seen during the fall. The sun was setting and the stars were shining brightly down upon me. They felt like I should know their story. 

Behind me a voice echoed, “Strange place.”

I turned to look at the voice and smiled, though I’d never actually met the man before, a TV actor from some show I didn’t recall ever having watched stood before me. Though his eyes were an ice blue that struck a cord deep down inside – just like the voice had cooled my soul. Brought me to a place that I should know but was just out of grasp.

“Yeah. Do you know where we are?”

The man looked at me and shook his head, “I’ve never been here before.”

“Me either.” I said calmly yet I felt as though it were a lie – it tasted like ash. I had been here before – “Maybe I’ve been here before.”

“Me too.” He said.

I went to offer the stranger my hand and offer my name, but it escaped me. Who was I? “Do you know who I am?” I asked.

The man smirked, “No. Never seen you before either.”

“Then why are you here?” I asked.

He shrugged, “I was called here, I figured someone needed my help or something.” He said the or something like he knew more than he was letting on, but I was already confused I didn’t need more of that right now.

“I know you aren’t him.” I gestured to the man standing before me, “He’s an actor with brown eyes and he plays some magician character.”

“I chose him because he was lingering in your head. You have a crush on him.” He smirked.

“You can read my mind?”

“Can’t everyone?” He joked.

“What am I thinking?” I asked and tried to cover the thought that the actor was someone who I could let have his way with me. The character he played certainly wouldn’t have objected to it. Maybe he would.

The smirk on his face turned into a smile, “You just want me to fuck you with this body.”

I laughed, “I wouldn’t be opposed to that.”

He shook his head, “No, I don’t think so.” He said and then was gone – disappeared like he’d never been there at all.

I turned a full circle twice and he was gone. I was alone again in this strange place. I took a step towards the tree. It was bare and the bark crumbled as I ran my fingers down the trunk. Something was wrong – it was dying. I didn’t know how I knew that, but it had always been barren but now it was crumbling beneath my fingers.

I pulled away from it, and stepped back taking in the whole of the scene. Something was wrong, and the darkness crept back in obscuring the tree, the pain returned and I wanted to scream but no sound escaped when I tried. It echoed in my head – the pain, the cold.

I was so alone.