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Short Story 53



I don’t know why he bought instant coffee when there was a free espresso machine around the corner, which was constantly stocked. But, that was just Guy’s habit, I guess. Maybe, he liked the flavor more. Who could really say? I suppose I could ask him why he did that, but that would be way more involvement than I ever intended to put into his life.


Guy took a seat across from me, stirring his bland cup of black instant coffee without saying a word. On the television the news was playing in a muted undertone. Thanks to the absence of anyone else and the lack of conversation between us it was easy to hear.


“Good-morning everyone and welcome to M and M talk, I’m Magen.” A fake blonde with bleached teeth and a rather tight dress beamed at the camera.


“And I’m Murine.” The cohost bobbed her head, her crisp black hair hardly leaving its structured and highly sculpted position around her face.


“And we are so happy to have all of you viewers at home joining us this morning. Today we have a lot of things to cover.”


“That is so true Magen, the first of which being the ever-blooming avocado tree entitled Little Metrical, which is said to be resistant to all known illness and pest.”


“Are you saying they have stemmed the avocado crises.”


“It appears so Magen. It seems through the intervention of wonderful scientists they have managed to cross the DNA of an average avocado with crickets and hydrogen peroxide. This has produced a healthier, more robust plant that produces fruit at a heightened rate with a higher level of protein while also making it a natural antiseptic. After three years of study they found it is not only self-pollinating, but blooms year round.”


“My goodness, Murine, I mean what on earth would we have done without their intervention, certainly not enjoy guacamole with our taco chips. They really have saved the day as well as South American and Tex-Mex cuisine. Not to mention helped all our Vegan, Vegetarian, and Keto watchers out there.”


Guy rolled his eyes taking a sip from his mug.


For the life of me I don’t know why, I found myself speaking before I could restrain myself, “Disagree?”


He looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, “Excuse me?”


“Well, you shook your head I thought maybe you disagreed with them.”


“Should I?”


“Well, if you want to, they’re no laws against it.”


“Not yet, but I’m sure their working on it.”


“Who?”


“It doesn’t really matter,” He placed his cup on the table in front of him, “Forgive my curiosity, but what would you think if I told you, my opinion?”


“I’m not sure. I would have to hear it before I made up my mind.”


There was a lull. All I could imagine was that he was considering whether or not to go forward with the conversation. The sensation of stupidity and awkwardness were my only companions as I waited to see what he would say.


“Opinions are complicated,” his fingers flexed on the body of his mug, “Frankly I can’t justify giving you mine, if you don’t first give me yours.”


“On that, I don’t even like avocados, why would I care if they went extinct or were GMO, as long as I don’t have to eat them, I don’t care.”


“But do you think they are going extinct?”


“I’m not sure. Like I said, they’re not a special subject of interest for me.”


“So then why ask me about them?”


“I don’t know, just making conversation.”


His, rather stale, examination was unexpected. I didn’t really know what to say to his questions. I just answered them abruptly with the first things that came into my mind. None of them were false or anything. I really don’t like avocados and I really didn’t care what happened to them. Yet, I wanted to be irritated with him for talking to me like he was, but I couldn’t. I just spit out answers too afraid to say anything else.


“Well then, I’ll say this. Avocados have been growing just fine forever, or for as long as people knew about them. They may have had their problems, most crops do, but why have they stopped now? Why do they need human intervention, and such invasive human intervention, now?”


“I don’t know, maybe some new strain of something.”


He raised his glass, “Maybe.”


“You think fairly deep about things.”


“Not really, I just don’t accept them at face value.”


Again, I spoke without thinking, “Why not?”


“Wouldn’t it lack respect for basic intellect to just accept things handed to you without questioning them first, or rather at all?”


“I don’t know, I guess. I never thought about it that way.”


“That’s dangerous.”


“And why’s that?”


“Because if you never question anything then you’ll accept everything with no true reason as to why. You’ll repeat the arguments provided or give empty ones without knowing why you are. It is like saying you use a particular type of toothpaste because four out of five dentists agree that it is the best toothpaste.”


“But doesn’t that make it a good toothpaste?”


“I suppose and then maybe they only screened five dentists, or maybe they weren’t dentists at all. You’re just assuming, because their appeal to authority makes you feel safe. It gives the consumer a sense of wellbeing about their decision. People can and have been tricked into ingesting poison with such arguments.”


“But if dentists recommend it…”


“Which dentists? It’s not like their names are on the product. Oh, just some random dentist, from some random place. You don’t know anything about their careers, if they have licenses, or if there just some no one falsely advertising themselves to make money, or better yet if they exist at all.”


There was a gentle sinking sensation in my stomach. I looked down into my mug, at a loss for what to say to this. I wasn’t put out. I wasn’t angry. I just couldn’t think to answer. It was like he had turned my brain off.


“Thinking, cross-examining, they’regood things. You should never just accept what someone says because they say it.”


I smiled taking a mouthful of my coffee turning to the television screen, it was running an ad for some new cream that was supposed to cure eczema. He returned to his cup his eyes not going in the same direction, dropping me as a subject as well. It was just how things were.


Around twenty minutes passed like this, neither of us attempted to recreate conversation. He drank and stared into his coffee, while I watched the screen and consumed mine. When I drank the last gulp and went to stand, I found that Guy was in a similar position. Here our eyes locked again.


“Guy.”


“Yes.”


“I’ve always wondered, why you drink instant, when the machine’s always stocked?”


A smile. It was faded, remorseful, not leaving the general boarder of his lips, “Have you ever asked yourself who’s doing that, restocking the coffee machine?”


“Not really.”


“So, then you’ve never wondered what this building is then either. It isn’t an office, it’s not even an apartment. It’s just this room. When you leave you have no memory of how you got here, and when you come you have no idea why you’re here. That is, unless some how you do notice, and always it feels as if it’s just sorted its way into your day with an impossible to understand efficiency. Why is that I wonder.”


I hadn’t considered it. This place, coming here. I hadn’t really thought it was anything special. It was so much engrained in my routine. Even seeing Guy and drinking coffee opposite each other was something I just did.


“Then what is it? What is this place?”


He shrugged, “Your guess on that is as good as mine. See you tomorrow.”


With that he left the room. The next day he didn’t come. In fact, I never saw Guy again. For the longest time I would come here and sit alone and drink my coffee wondering what had happened to him. And then one day I decided to bring instant coffee and drink that instead of what was in the machine. Maybe, I could find out if I followed him, just a little. Almost at once my head felt clearer. I could think more and always, in this room, my thoughts revolved around him. Around what had happened to Guy.


Who could do such a thing? Who would make someone just disappear? I wasn’t sure if in doing this, one day, I too would disappear and what exactly it will mean if I did.



End



Thank you so much for reading everyone!!



Prompt Sentence: I don’t know why he bought instant coffee when there was a free espresso machine around the corner, which was constantly stocked.


Word Count: 1487


©DecemberKnight 2023


Special thanks to Karthik Sridasyam from Unsplash for the use of the image!


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