Black as soul coffee

Submitted into Contest #30 in response to: Write a story about someone who receives an unexpected phone call.... view prompt



“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet”.

-Emily Dickinson

Mother was never the type to like sweetened coffee. Sweetened coffee or not, I loved the bitterness of any coffee. The word coffee, or any coffee that is, was pure heaven to me. It’s like that perfect blend between strong bean and sweet cocoa crashed between the sides of the smooth, hard, ceramic cup that grandmother gave to me. Smooth as a baby’s butt. Hard as a tree oak. You name it. Ugh. I guess I’m really am just corny. Similar to that time mother glared at me for saying that investigator joke out loud while she was drinking her black coffee. I mean it was pretty darn funny if you ask me. As we lay side by side on the old LAZ-boy, with her arm around my neck, in a hug. Just the two of us. The two of us giggling at every Friends season, no matter how corny they got. The fact that she got me never went out of line.

She was the crayons to my coloring book, if you’d ask me. 

If you’d ask me, I’d say it was my fault.

Not just partly, all of my fault. If the all in forever could just remain the SAME, I’d give it my all. Study for all those Algebra tests that have failed me. That failed me to believe that I could have been so foolish. What happened to forever?

What made my life sweet where those times I would come home. Home that was the small apartment that my mother and I spent all night on the couch binge watching Friends paired with buttered popcorn. Those moments that though my bullied self was broken and bruised by the time I made it home, I’d run run run to that couch and, with a smile, my brokenness would just disappear. Disappear to the point where all I could be in was that small, cramped living room with a bucketful of popcorn. The popcorn that mother’s special butter and vinegar sauce was splattered across of. 

“It’s a secret that you must tell no one, ok Kari?” She would say with this giddy grin pasted across her face. And being a kid of five years of age, I told no one. No one to the point of being with no one but her. Just the two of us against the world. The world that never pitied that poor shy bullied girl. That girl who’s never lived a single day without a bruise. 

That night, I don’t recall much of what happened. I was at Atreus’ house when it was sudden. Sudden. Fireworks that burned my heart, I’d cry. Cry and cry until there would be no more tears that I could obtain. Obtain. Just to BE alive was a sin. A sin that I could have kept mother from committing. 

That night, I was reading the Harry Potter series with Atreus and was dying to spill tea on the spoilers for the Deathly Hallows.

“Kari! Why do you keep on spoiling the ending of each Harry Potter book when I’m STILL on the goblet of fire!” Atreus had said, rolling his eyes as he spoke. 

“Sorry? I’m just trying to make sure you don’t get worried on what will happen to Harry that’s all!” I said, defending my cause. The truth when you just want to spoil an ending to a good book was crucial to the ten year old me. Atreus, who’s two years my junior, just doesn’t understand. And probably won’t. Ever. 

It seemed like all fun and games at that moment, with Atreus and me doing elevator handshakes and binge reading the first few Harry Potter books-with me still spilling spoilers on future books- but it seemed much too perfect, like I could sense I’d just sold my soul to sin. 

The sin that was the cause to mother’s death.

Growing up, it’s not like I could tell between mother’s genuine and fake smiles. I guess maybe she was too good at playing poker with her emotions. Emotions that she COULD have told me. I thought she trusted me, but really she only felt the obligation to trust me. The obligation that I was sure I’ve would have kept between the two of us. Just the two of us was all I ever wanted. If the word ever would ever mean forever. 

When Mr.Martin received the phone call, I assumed that it was just another of his work calls from the office. 

“Yes....I-I-I’ll make s-s-sure that.Thank you, sir.” Mr.Birks rather slurred, at his words, with a shocked face, that can tell you he’s stayed up too late. Or was it that?

And then, the phone shattered across the hard, wooden floors. The floors that crashed hard against the stainless steel iPhone, making it skid across with a loud SCREECH!

“What’s wrong, father?” Atreus asked with a white ghost face.

“She’s.......Dead.” Mr.Birks once again, slurred. 

If human detected “waves” were ever possible, I was probably the first tested guinea pig.

It’s like I could “sense” that something was wrong. Maybe it was because I knew Mr.Birks’ wife had left him long ago, and for sure wasn’t “seeing” anyone. Maybe it was because I knew. But, at the time, when I thought I knew mother, I really never. Did. Never did to the point that I couldn’t tell that she was maybe masking it so well. So well, would have I said to her that day. That day that she smiled and dropped me off at Atreus’. That day that she could have at least said, I love you, but only ever said a take care. Take care? For what? Take care for the fact that I’ll never eat another one of her specially made popcorn with the butter-vinegar sauce? Take care for the fact that I’d never be able to see her “It’s ok” sentimentality smiles-after I’d get beat up by the bullies at school- ever again? Or, was it a take care because.... She was never going to see me, again. 

After that night, Mr.Birks, between trying to muffle my screams and getting my stuff from the apartment, told the court that he would be adopting me, you would have thought I’d be overjoyed. After all, I loved the Birks household so much as my own. I loved Mr. Birks’ corny jokes and burnt cooking. I loved hanging out with Atreus as well. But, days after mother’s funeral and the adoption at court, I felt nothing but pain. Pain that made my head spin and my heart race. Spin through all those memories of us- baking for that old lady’s bake sale, sitting on the LAZ-boy that was later sold at a garage sale, but it had belonged to US written all over it- just us, no ONE else. My heart sank at the thought of the only family I had being taken away from me. Why would you leave me mom? 

Perhaps it was because of those investigator jokes I’d say while you drank your morning coffee. Perhaps it was because I never had a knack at baking like you, mom. I’m sorry. And sorry isn’t a word that should be overused.

Not in my opinion anyway. 

A mere phone call that changed my life, but has left me unscathed.





Past. Five years ago.

The day after mother’s funeral, I was so unsure about my decisions. So unsure whether or which I should keep living without her. People said that she was murdered. Some said that she died in a car crash. But it was all speculated by the police. And the police had to say, “Her slippers were found near the back porch of the apartment. And her body was later found in the bottom of the pond near the apartment complexes. Which means, she killed herself, another suicide victim.” When I heard those words, spoken loud and clear by the sheriff, I was so confused and depressed at the same time. 

“What’s suicide, Mr.Birks?” I asked him with my temples creasing. And all that Mr.Birks could say was, “I think it is better for you not to know.” And he left the crime scene, the ten year old me sobbing. It is better for you not to know. It is better for you not to know. It is better. Why? Because you would never understand.I was heartbroken, and confused. Because I had no idea how and why mother died. 

Mother was always there for me. And me being there, side by side on the laz-boy, was not enough? Why? Why wasn’t it enough? Wasn’t there any way I could’ve done better?


Was I not enough to you, mom? But, maybe deep inside, I’m not. 

Later that day, I found out the reasons why Santa Claus never came last Christmas. Because there was no Santa Claus. The Santa Claus, has killed herself, with the plans to do so all along. 

“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain”

-Leonardo Da Vinci

But, if they came from the heart, then why couldn’t I think right now? So I ran. I ran from the crime scene. Ran from Mr.Martin. From the detectives. From the apartment. And tried to believe that mother was still out there, and this was all a mistake. 

                     Until my brain 


              And ran.             Stopped. Right in the middle.

      And ran 

I ran

As I run, I skid to a stop. Because, now I wasn’t anywhere. In fact I was in the anywhere. ANY one who would have seen it would have not believed. But WHERE would you say it is? 

I walk around the lot of land, that must have been a park: there where many huge oak trees around the lot, with the grass long and tall-like there may be snakes in there- but I walk around anyway. Behind the oak trees is a two court tennis court whose nets are beat down and broken. And right in the middle of it all, is something I’ve always dreamed of having: a treehouse. 

A treehouse with a single rope to enter it. A treehouse covered up in black covering. A treehouse with every possible memory in it. 

As I climb up the rope into the treehouse, I climb inside. And hide there.

A few hours later.......

“KARI!! WHERE ARE YOU!!” Kaito screams at the top of his lungs, tears piercing his eyes. “KARI!!!! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!! Kari......” And he crouches down on the grass of the lot and breaks down, crying. His tears drip down, as he continues to scream my name. I hear him, but I don’t want to get out to reveal myself. 

“KARI!!! PLEASE!! I KNOW YOU ARE MAD AT ME, BUT PLEASE, DON’T LEAVE ME! YOU’RE not.... Alone... Please....I-I-love you......”

 He screams this and lingers at the last word, continuing to cry out loud. This idiot. Did he really think that I’d get out just because you said those words. You say I’m the idiot for running away, but look who’s chasing me, without permission? You really are a dummy....

So, just because I pitied his effort to find me, I get out of the treehouse, and climb down. And, when he sees me, he runs over to me and hugs me. 

“You idiot. Why would you just leave me like that? You do know how important you are to me, right?” He says this as he crouches down, with his hands in mine. I blush. Of course I’m important to you, dummy. I’m like the little sister you never had, right?

“I love you, Kari. And don’t you ever forget that, ok?” He says this, and kisses my cheek, dry from the autumn breeze. 

“Kaito, I....I’m sorry.” I say and cry once more.

“It’s ok. Just don’t ever do that again, ok?” He says with a sweet smile.

And, hand in hand, we walk home, together. 

And, maybe-just maybe- if we just live in this moment....

Our black-coffee-souls will be together.


And, I can almost see her in every-single CALL I receive.

Even though there are days-mere days- that I'd stare on the inside of my coffee cup thinking (just thinking) about mother.

February 21, 2020 19:28

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