Auntie May’s Cafe

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Syerra Milliman, Fluco Beat Editor

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Chloe swung open the door to her aunt’s cafe for the last time. She was still in shock at her mother’s announcement that they were moving. Chloe’s mother wasn’t coping with the death of Chloe’s father very well, and felt the family needed a change of scenery.

Chloe knew that her mother was struggling to stay composed and keep the family together, but she didn’t see how moving would solve their problems. They would still be in debt, her father would still be dead, and her mother would still be depressed. If anything, moving would make the situation much worse. They would be further away from the rest of their family and close friends that had offered support throughout the entire ordeal.

The bell above the door chimed to signal that a customer had arrived and Chloe looked up to meet the eyes of her Aunt May. May smiled sadly at her niece and continued to clean the mug she was holding. Chloe slowly walked inside and noticed the cafe was busy as usual, older couples taking up tables in the center of the cafe, families taking up the booths on the perimeter, and groups of teens occupying the tables in the far right corner. Chloe walked to her usual booth at the far left corner of the cafe with the perfect view of the small town.

Chloe liked to come to the cafe after an arduous day at school, sit at her table, order a small black coffee and a blueberry muffin, and just watch the citizens go about their daily lives. Families with young children shopping at the market, teenagers laughing with their friends outside of the arcade, couples walking hand in hand down the busy street. Chloe would sit and watch the townspeople for hours, contentedly sipping on her coffee and eating her muffin.

Chloe let out a sigh and claimed her seat at the table. She no sooner set her bag down when her cousin Daniel came to take her order. “The usual?” he asked with sad eyes and a bright smile.  Chloe nodded and he walked behind the counter to begin preparing her order.

Turning her attention to the window, she saw that surprisingly, the street wasn’t busy. A few stragglers crawled along the otherwise deserted street and Chloe turned back to the table. Daniel returned with her coffee and muffin before leaving to tend to another customer. She picked up her coffee and took a sip, glancing at the tables around her. She saw the booth that her family had usually occupied on Saturdays, now empty and lonely. They had always come to the cafe on Saturdays after a family outing. Chloe’s father insisted that no matter what was going on in their lives, Saturday was family day. The family hadn’t spent a single Saturday together since her father passed two months ago.

Chloe loved Saturday evenings at the cafe. Her father would crack jokes and her mother would laugh even if they weren’t funny. Chloe would tell them about her day at school and the latest drama going on between her friends. Her younger brother would share the new prank he was planning on pulling on his friends. Then her aunt and cousins would close up the cafe and they would all spend the rest of the night playing games and catching up. Chloe now realized  she missed family day more than she thought.

Her eyes burning with unshed tears, she blinked and diverted her eyes back to her table when a small family filled the booth. The parents were laughing at something the little girl said to the older girl who just rolled her eyes, trying to hide her smile.

Chloe smiled softly and looked at the baked goods on the counter. There were cookies, cupcakes, and brownies, but her favorite treat was her aunt’s famous s’mores cheesecake. Her Aunt May created that cheesecake for Chloe’s tenth birthday because s’mores was her favorite treat. Chloe loved the cheesecake so much her aunt had added it to the menu where it had been the most popular item since.

Daniel suddenly blocked her view of the cheesecake and said, “All done here?” Chloe looked down at her empty mug and plate and glanced back at the cheesecake.

“Actually, I’d like a piece of s’mores cheesecake,” she replied. Daniel was surprised at her change of routine, for she only ever ordered s’mores cheesecake on Saturdays, and he grinned.

“Of course. Anything else?” he asked. Chloe shook her head and Daniel left to retrieve her dessert. He returned with a big slice of cheesecake and a fork. “Enjoy,” he told her and scurried off to the kitchen. She picked up the fork and took a bite. It was just as delicious as she remembered.

Chloe continued to eat her treat and observed the cafe. How could she leave? How could she move away from her family? The place where she grew up? The place that held her most precious memories? Eating the last bite of her dessert, she laid some money on the table and exited the cafe. She wasn’t going anywhere and she was going home to tell her mother just that. Family has to stick together through even the toughest of times, it’s what makes family so important. She wasn’t going to let her mother distance herself from everyone she loved just so she could self destruct. Chloe was determined to save her mother, and the first step was talking her out of moving.