COFFEE SHOP TALK⎯Where Are My Coffee Shop Friends?

After being away for months, I walk into Coffee Shop and order a coffee and cookie. The front, usually busy with the coming and going of people, is desolate, the tables covered with bags for pickup and delivery. I don’t recognize the staff. No one says my name or hello. It’s cold and unfriendly, almost clinical. Someone takes my order then directs me to the exit at the back where I used to sit. I manoeuver around the tables with chairs piled on top. It’s a ghost town, dark and quiet. No music. No voices. No laughter. We who sat at the back didn’t mingle or know each other. Yet we were Coffee Shop friends. We showed up every day at the same time between eight-thirty and nine, sat in the same seats, and ordered the same thing day after day. As I make my way to the door, I can’t help but wonder what happened to them during Covid? Frank and Wife: Are they having coffee at home, him reading the newspaper while Wife watches movies on her iPad? Does Frank rise every morning and dress in his expensive high fashion? Is his black hair styled, or has it turned grey? It would be a shame if he became dishevelled, all those beautiful clothes going to waste. Is Muffin Man still eating the top of the muffins, leaving the rest? Does he pick them up from Coffee Shop or buy them by the dozen from the grocery store? Then there’s Hat Guy. Does he walk around his house or condo, coffee in hand, hat on, talking to the furniture? Telling his silly jokes. I can’t forget Mafia Man: is he hanging out in the lobby of his condo mask on, making women giggle like schoolgirls? Did Job Hunter find a job or give up and stopped scrolling through his phone? And Laptop Goddess, I bet she’s on Zoom meetings with a suit jacket on top and pyjama pants on the bottom, laptop, phone, and iPad going at the same time. What about Chatty Lady, with no travel, what’s she talking about? Does Dating Woman put on her purple dress when she goes on dating sites? Maybe she has a torrid online romance. Or met someone and is with him, at least until Covid-19 is over. Dating Couple, is she dressed perfectly at nine in the morning? Or is she hanging out in her housecoat? Does he listen while she gabs to him over the phone? What about the random people who brought drama and conversation to Coffee Shop, disrupting our routine and the quiet? Where are my Coffee Shop friends? Even though I only had a good morning nod relationship with them, I miss them. I miss Coffee Shop. These days I sit at my desk with my coffee, put on music, pretend I’m in Coffee Shop and write my morning pages.  

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Sheila Horne graduated from George Brown’s Creative Writing Program and is the author of three novels: Sunshine Girls, Paper Sun, and Place in the Sun. She is also the co-author of Temple of Light, a book of poems inspired by the Sharon Temple. Her poems and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. To read more, visit, author or

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