Coffee Talk

I didn’t write this morning. I have a novella to finish up by December 5th, a contest deadline, and I have a long way to go to get it into shape. This morning wasn’t a morning for writing, because the coffee shop where I wrote huge pieces of Hulk Hercules and Abby Rath and several bits and bobs of other projects is closing.

I’ve been going to Coffee Talk for around 4 years. A good friend works there, so she will be looking for new work, although she has been looking for a while, so I think this comes as no surprise, except that the closing is happening so fast. Their final day is Friday.

When I started going to Coffee Talk in 2008, the owner Susan was captivating and charming, and she made the atmosphere. Susan remembered you, remembered your drink, and always had a sunny smile for you, whether you crept in at 6:30 or wandered in late afternoon after work. Adding to the charm of Coffee Talk was that Susan’s retired mom Lucille worked there in the afternoons, serving sandwiches and talking to customers. The shop had a lot of regulars, and we knew each other fairly well.

Last year Susan sold Coffee Talk. She enjoyed what she was doing, but Susan’s husband Art was going to run to try to return to the Iowa legislature, so Susan decided to devote her time to his campaign. And by the way, that was the right move. Art Staed will be returning to the Iowa House and repping his fellow teachers. In January, Susan will be going right along with him, clerking for him. So, there was a huge culture change at the Coffee Shop, and Susan would have been a hard act for anyone to follow. She was just plain gifted.

Angela started with the business great guns. I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I do know that Angela found that she was pregnant shortly after they bought the shop, and I do know that her time at the shop became less. Customers dwindled. The atmosphere changed. Not in a bad way, just changed. Summer near a campus can be very hard on a budding business, which Coffee Talk was again, and the revenue just wasn’t there. Kirkwood, our campus, actually regained a viable cafe and coffee shop this year, and I’m sure that bit into business more.

So yesterday Angela told the baristas that the last day for the shop would be Friday.

You know, I stopped writing at Coffee Talk for the most part about two years ago. It was my Wednesday and Friday stop for an hour while I waited for Barnes and Noble to open, so I could go across town to get to work. Too many people from Kirkwood could find me and interrupt my writing there. But still, it was a place where Tony, Bianca, Uncle Leo and I all got to know each other. I will miss it.

So, to all my fellow Coffee Talk patrons, I say God speed. I hope you find a place once again that feels like a neighborhood to you. And to Susan and Art, I wish you a great future. To all the young men and women who worked at the shop, I hope you find your new job soon, and I hope it makes you happy. To Michelle, especially I wish that last part. And to Angela and her family, I hope your new son makes your life shine.

Just like Hulk Hercules sits on a shelf now, completed and published, my time at Coffee Talk becomes one I can only remember, placed on the shelf of my memories.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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