Marcus Grant | Managing Editor
Rain was coming down hard, creating a soft rhythm on the concrete street. It was mostly empty, a few of the nurses getting off their shift rushed towards the subway to get home. The glow of streetlights and car beams reflected off the dark ground and the smell of exhaust and cigarettes filled the air, mixing with the sweet aroma of rain.
Kennedy looked up at the sky. How could I have forgotten my umbrella, she thought to herself, shoving her hands in her pockets and starting the long trek back to her apartment. Every day was starting to feel the same; wake up, get ready, go to mom's, get her ready, go to work, go home, sleep, and repeat. Sometimes it felt like too much. With mom's declining health, she was needing more attention more often - soon she would need to find a way to care for her 24/7. It was a problem she didn’t want to think about too much.
She was pulled from her thoughts by the ringing of a phone. Next to her, a girl walked, matching Kennedy’s pace and holding an umbrella over their heads.
“Are you gonna answer that?”
She smiled. “You finally noticed me. I was starting to think you were a ghost or something. I’m Hickory.”
“Sorry; I was just thinking.” I guess the answer’s ‘no.’ “I’m Kennedy.”
The pair walked for a bit, not speaking much. Every so often Hickory would hand off the umbrella, running to a nearby lamp post and doing a loop around it before returning. The company was nice. It had been a while since Kennedy had spent time with people other than her family. As they approached a quaint shop, Hickory slowed down.
“You ever been here?”
“Not yet. They just opened up last month, right?”
She grabbed Kennedy’s hand, pulling her through the doorframe. “You have to try it. They have the best coffee.”
The cafe was small and dimly lit. Hints of espresso and herbs filled the air and soft jazz played over quiet conversation of the few guests sitting on one of the couches around a fireplace. Next to them, a wooden bookshelf held a sign that read “Our picks: feel free to read them while you’re here.” It was nice. Cozy. Kennedy imagined sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, pouring over one of the novels and lazily sipping a cup of tea. Perhaps someone would come start a conversation with her over the book she held.
Hickory brought over two cups, placing one of them in her hand. “Try this. It’s amazing.”
Kennedy hesitantly brought the drink to her lips. The coffee smelled of cinnamon and something fruity. “Wow.” She took another sip. “This is really good.” “I told you,” Hickory laughed, taking a sip of her own drink.
“For what? The coffee?” She waved her hand. “Don’t worry about it; it was like two dollars.”
Kennedy averted her eyes. “No, for walking next to me.”
She shrugged. “You looked like you needed a friend. Plus, you didn’t have an umbrella and I needed someone to hold mine when the lampposts called to me.”
“You’re a total weirdo.” A laugh escaped her, filling the space around them.
“Maybe.” Hickory looked out the window. “Life’s too short not to live in the moment. Like one of those taxis out there could go out of control and come straight through the front of this place. Or I could choke on my coffee.” “That would be a real tragedy.”
“You get it.” The two girls continued talking and sipping their coffees late into the night. To anyone walking by, they probably looked like old friends rather than strangers who met on the street only a little while earlier. It’s odd, Kennedy thought to herself, looking at the girl across from her. Life has a weird way of putting you exactly where you need to be.