028 - Muted Words, Chapter 5

Chapter 1: Introduces Mara

Chapter 2: Maud is at Mara's place. It ends with Mara reading Maud a story.

Chapter 3: Maud can't sleep

Chapter 4: The Parting


  • To understand what is meant by Momo read Chapter 1. Actually, read chapter 1 to 4 if you haven't unless most of the references will be lost to you. Or not.

  • If you read the previous chapters, we're doing a huge jump into the future in this chapter. Maud is an adult now and owns her own coffee shop.

Chapter 5 - At Momo's

It was a fresh winter morning and Maud was standing behind the counter. The windows were open to let the fresh air in, proven to be a better source of air circulation than air condition. The couches and chairs had colorful warm blankets for guests to wrap themselves in. No one should feel cold at Maud’s place. She also changed the summer cholas to winter Pantoffels. Flip-flops and slippers being inadequate words to describe the sentiments of summer and winter footwear, she appropriated words from other cultures she came across via her reading.  

She exclusively served coffee with milk or milk foam, and hot chocolate. Guests could decide on the proportion of coffee to milk. But that was it. No alternative milk or flavored syrup, or cinnamon powder to top the drink off. The menu was the same, every day. The only exception she allowed was “coffee con hielo”, coffee with an ice cube, on the hottest days of summer. 

She was refused financing because of her insistence to keep the menu small and to not allow for any customization. Picking the proportion of coffee and milk was enough in her eyes. 

Her cafe was quirky: Chairs and benches were built like an ancient amphitheater facing the huge glass windows. The counter was squeezed to the side of it. The walls were made to look like a forest, with painted trees and branches sticking out. She tried to have little birds nesting in her fake wood, but the bird poop was a problem. 

To order a drink, guests had to cross the amphitheater. The floor was covered in thick purple carpets. A sign at the door informed guests to take off their shoes, place them in a little cubicle and take out a pair of cholas or Pantoffels, depending on the season, from a big brown wicker basket.

First-time guests always paused. Leaving directly drew attention to them. Above the door was a little chain that chirped every time the door opened or closed. Nevertheless, some left, not ready to be weird. Others, intrigued by a coffee shop that was not ordinary, began to search for matching footwear. This was a hopeless task. Regular guests were convinced that matching shoes didn’t exist in Maud’s place. You take what you got, and you made the best of it. 

Maud’s place had no plugs. No tables. No screens. It had books. All sorts of books. In all sizes and colors and languages. Everywhere. You could sit on a pile of dictionaries, or rest your cup on them. And, of course, you could read them. Regulars received a special bookmark, or as many as they needed. They’d place them in a book. The book’s title and the page would then be recorded in Momo’s, an app Maud developed to help her guests keep track of their books. After seeing guests being frustrated and sad that they couldn’t find the book they were reading the other day, she felt devastated. This is not how someone should feel in her place. 

A transparent chip-foil was taped on each book’s cover. This could locate a book with a precision of 10 centimeters. Precise enough for the negative energy thermometer to drop to below-average levels for her city. But not precise enough for guests to not have to ask others for help. 

The guests’ bookmarks were astonishingly simple: A simple piece of cardboard paper the kids from the nearby boarding school decorated. Maud added the chip-foil and laminated it. By now, guests could order the bookmark via the Momo app, pick their own design, and pay the kid. Apparently, there was a secondary market for these bookmarks, but Maud never investigated it further. 

Using the Momo app, guests could locate the book. If their bookmark got displaced, the last read page was saved in the app. For those who enabled it, they could see a list of guests who are also reading the book. The idea was that guests could coordinate better when they’d come to the cafe so that whenever you are there your book is free for you to grab and read. But guests never used it like that. They planned book-clubs, read-aloud sessions, and dinners themed around books they were reading.

Chirp-chirp went the door. A gust of cold wind entered the room. The leaves on the nests and in the pages rustled for a moment louder than the conversations between guests. An old lady with a black backpack, an olive green chipped cup dangling on a hook at one side, brown trousers and deep green sneakers entered the room. Her face was brown, the nose red from the cold. Without kneeling down or holding on for support she slipped out of her sneakers. She did not fish for a pair of house slippers, but crossed the arena in her socks

“One coffee. Black. Please” the guest requested from Maud. 

“Of course” Maud replied “Where are you coming from”. She had a habit of chatting with her clients, taking time to get to know them. 

“That’s a difficult question to answer. Right now I’ve come from the station. Do you mind pouring the coffee into my travel mug? It gives me a sense of familiarity and home when I’m on the road. You see it’s the one thing that has remained stable throughout my life. People come and go…” she trailed off.

Seeing the mug, Maud swiftly looked up. She waited for this moment her whole life. Albeit, she’s still young, but waiting takes a toll. A seed of bitterness had been planted so many years ago and try as she might, she never got fully rid of it. Like weeds it comes up and if you aren't careful it takes over everything. 

“People don’t come and go. You come and go. You left me. “ her voice was barely audible. She fought with the tears. Here she was standing, the person responsible for whom she became, the one who gave her the love of books and taught her to cherish time and friction. The one who could make black and white letters on a page come alive better than any tech hallucination. And she just wanted to throw herself at her, hug her and ask about her adventures. 

She poured the black coffee into the olive green chipped cup. 

“On the house” Maud said, and delicately pushed the travel mug over the counter towards Mara. Without waiting for a reply she turned around and busied herself with her espresso machine. It was old and needed love and care.

Collect this post to permanently own it.
The Cheshire Cat logo
Subscribe to The Cheshire Cat and never miss a post.
#muted words#fiction