Bridgette turned off the alarm and stretched under the covers, under sunbeams that poked through cracks in her curtains. She loved her new row house. She was proud of herself for buying it. Exposed brick, a cobblestone street, a little neighborhood close to shops and cafes, an historic park nearby. Plenty of places for inspiration. Plenty of places to overhear conversations. Perfect for writing.
Not quite ready to get up, Bridgette scrolled through emails, texts, tweets, one link led to another link. Rescue me, read the caption below a pathetic-looking baby possum, a sad little Muppet puppet alone in the grass. It’s very rare for a mother possum to return for a joey that falls off her back. Possum joeys are one of the few wildlife babies that require rescuing by humans to survive. She hoped somebody rescued that one. They must have. Didn’t matter. The picture was in her head, an eye-worm. She’d be thinking about stranded baby possums all day, like when she didn’t turn off those horrible heartbreaking Sarah McLachlin ASPCA commercials. The feeling to rescue had already kicked in.
The shower helped. Maybe she’d write a children’s book about a possum joey, create empathy for the little critters, bring their need for rescue to light. That’s what she’d do. She’d make some coffee, put the novel aside, and she’d sketch out her ideas for the joey book.
She was just about to turn on her blow dryer when she heard the knock at the door. Barely. She ran two floors down. “Mom, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve been thinking, honey.” Her mom pushed a shopping cart through the door into her living room, which in all good row houses, is the first room in the house. “Oh, this is perfect. This is just perfect, Bridg.” The shopping cart was labeled, Steve’s Market.
“You stole this from the market?” It was filled to the brim. Bridgette recognized her mom’s dishware. There were cups, napkins, boxed coffee cakes. Below the cart, she saw several coffee makers.
“I wouldn’t exactly say its stolen. I gave your market quite a bit of business.” She pulled out several large containers of ground coffee, a gallon of milk, another gallon of cream, and laid them on the top of the cart.
“What is all this, mom? I’m not set up for you to move in.”
“Oh, heavens no, Bridg. I’m starting a coffee shop.”
“A coffee shop?”
“In your living room. I can fix it up cute. It’s the perfect location. Owning a coffee shop has always been on my bucket list.”
“Mom.” It was all she could say, before her mother went out the front door.
“For now, I think this will be all we need for seating.” Her mother was back, dragging four folding chairs behind her. “Because we have your furniture already. Your cute little overstuffed chair – the chair Bridget had set up next to a side table for writing – your sofa, and, of course, we’ll drag your kitchen table and chairs out here. Oh, can you grab the two card tables out front? We have to hurry. It’s 6:30 already. I open at 7 o’clock.”
Why was Bridgette getting folding tables? She needed to nip this thing in the bud. She picked up the folding tables off the front sidewalk and turned to see a large white banner above her door. Evie’s Coffee and Klatch, it read.
Her mom came out the front door and stood beside Bridgette, who still looked at the banner. “Isn’t it adorable? Now, come on Bridg, let’s hurry. People will be arriving at seven. I put it on Instagram and got such a good response. I’ve already started the coffee brewing. What a great little nest egg this will be for you, Bridg. Especially, if you don’t sell your stories. You know, not all of them sell. And I know you spent all your money on this house. Oh, I have another surprise for you.” She lifted the hatchback on her car parked out front, and she pulled out a red-padded diner chair.
“You brought Dad’s chair?”
“I wouldn’t want him to miss out.” Her father had been dead for almost three years. She felt like she was living a bizarre trolley dilemma, did she let this train of her mother’s run over her, or did she divert it off track to let it run over her mom?
She helped her mom with the two folding tables and her dad’s chair. “Is he coming at seven to sit in it?” she mumbled under her breath.
“I’m going to finish getting ready upstairs, mom.”
Breathe deep, breathe deep, Bridgette told herself up the stairs. Oh, God! Without the benefit of a blow dryer her bangs hung separated on each side of her forehead. She looked the spitting image of Lucius Malfoy. Her forehead was huge. She took out the flatiron, but no matter how she tried to bring her bangs over her brow, they stayed where they were and she gave up.
She got dressed, grabbed her laptop and phone, and headed back down the stairs. Everything was going to be fine. No one would show. The whole thing would be something funny she and her mom could look back on later. She wasn’t going to have to do anything about the train.
“Hi, honey! This is my daughter, Bridgette, everybody.”
“Hellos” echoed from about fifteen people, people who looked like a Starbucks crowd. Three on her sofa, one in her club chair, all the folding chairs were occupied, a couple of people sat on the floor, computers plugged into her outlets. Her mom was running around filling coffee cups and offering peanut butter cookies from a plate. Bridgette’s kitchen island had been set up as a creamer station, with milk and cream and sugar.
No. No. No. No. Air. She needed to think. She threw her laptop and phone in her purse. She pulled a red knit cap over her forehead.
“Bridg, look. Your old boyfriend is here.” Her mom was pointing with her coffee pot hand. Oh, God. It was Everest. The guy with the Yosemite Sam butt tattoo.
“Well, technically we never broke up,” he said.
“You started dating your friend’s girlfriend, remember?” That was the last straw, Bridgette thought. Until Sweet Dreams started playing – where was music coming from – and people started to sing along.
“Here, honey. Take a cup of coffee with you.” Her mom handed her a customized pink paper cup with a logo that looked just like the banner. Evie’s Coffee and Klatch in black. The picture of a white cup on a white saucer, heart shaped steam rising from the cup.
Bridgette had to admit, the coffee was good. Well, she’d work on one of the benches at the park today. She’d write the possum story. Being outside in the park was better inspiration for a possum story anyway. She pulled her laptop from her purse.
When did she do that? She had a huge coffee stain on her white shirt, on her left breast. And no jacket. Never mind. She got in the zone with the story, until she was starving.
A hotdog sounded good. The vendor was in the park. She had a little trouble digging through her purse while holding the laptop over her breast to conceal the stain. Geez, she forgot her wallet. She pulled out her phone, but she was out of power. She had some change in the bottom of her purse. One dollar. Two. Four eighty-two. Just enough for a plain hotdog. She’d put ketchup and mustard on it. So what if it got on her shirt. She’d already ruined her shirt with the coffee.
“Do you know how many rat turds they allow in ketchup?” The girl in front of her asked her friend. “Thirteen fragments per 24 ounces.” Bridgette ordered a plain hotdog. She decided against the mustard, too.
When the cutest man in the world sat next to Bridgette on the bench, her mouth was full of hotdog. “Hi,” he said. She covered her left coffee-stained breast with her left hand, and while trying to smile, pointed to her mouth to show him he was chewing. He got up and left. Bridgette stayed on the bench writing until 5 o’clock, when she packed up and headed for home.
There was no Evie’s Coffee and Klatch banner on Bridgette’s house. When she opened the door, there was no sign of the coffee shop. No folding tables, no folding chairs, just a coffee pot on Bridgette’s kitchen island and a small white creamer.
“Can I get you a cup of coffee, honey?”
“That would be great.”
Bridgette sunk into the overstuffed club chair.
“Your coffee is good,” Bridgette said, when her mom brought out two cups of coffee.
“Thank you, Bridg.” Her mom plopped onto the sofa.
“How did it go, mom?”
Her mother pulled out a wad of cash and flipped through it. “I’ve been thinking I can cross coffee shop off my bucket list now. I did it.”
“You did it,” said Bridgette.
“Maybe, I just keep Dad’s chair at your place, and I come over for coffee once and awhile.”
“That sounds good, Mom.”
“Maybe, more than once in a while.”
“That sounds even better, Mom.” Bridgette thought about how nice it was not to be a possum.