“Welcome to The Other Side Coffeehouse!” Ferdinand exclaimed, “May I take your order?” The girl jumped back at the sound of his voice. She looked around the shop for a moment. Ferdinand raised an eyebrow, “Miss, your order?”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I think I’m lost.” She replied, “I woke up by the door and I really don’t know how I got here.”
“Oh lord,” He gritted his teeth and ran his hands through his hair.
“I remember I was swimming and the waves were really big and one knocked me down and then I woke up.” She continued.
“It’s a bit early, but we do serve alcoholic drinks. I’ll go ahead and make an Irish coffee for you.”
“I think I remember going under.” She muttered as she touched her throat, “It burned a lot.”
“Alright,” he sighed, “What’s your name?”
“Lynn.” She replied.
“Lynn,” he muttered, “you’re dead.”
Lynn’s eyes widened. She stepped back, “You said ‘dead’? What do you mean ‘dead’?”
“Well, by the looks of it, you drowned.” He smiled, “Do you want a cookie? People still like cookies, right?”
“I can’t be dead. I’m here. I’m in a freaking coffee shop.” She stammered, “What kind of afterlife has a coffee shop?”
“Breathe.” He stated.
“I thought you said I was dead.”
“You are, but it helps some people calm down.”
“That makes no sense.” She pulled on her hair, “I think I’m having a panic attack.”
“Just – just sit down and I’ll bring you something to drink and we can talk about it.” He stuttered.
“I really need that Irish coffee now.” She yelled.
“Alright, just try to calm down.” He stated. She stumbled through the white tables and onto a seat.
Ferdinand forced himself to breathe for a moment. He grabbed a bottle of whisky from under the counter. He poured it onto a cup, his hands jittering. A door behind him opened. He grabbed the cup and filled it to the brim with steaming coffee. “Celia, please tell me that’s you.”
“It’s me, in flesh and bone.” Celia replied, “Or whatever this thing is.” She leaned on the counter and flashed a smile at Ferdinand, “What’s the matter? It looks like you saw a ghost.”
“Are you ever going to get tired of those jokes?” He sighed, “There’s a new one, and she woke up here.”
“A new one,” Celia repeated, “how did she take it?”
“She didn’t try to kill me or herself so I say pretty well.” He shrugged as he covered the drink with cinnamon, “I need to go talk to her. Will you cover for me?”
She nodded, “Go solve her existential crisis.”
Ferdinand grabbed the cup of coffee and headed over to the table. The cup jittered in between his fingers and spilled onto the floor. He tried to keep his grasp steady but he couldn’t control it.
He slammed the cup on the table and Lynn jumped back. “I apologize.” He stammered. He pulled out a chair and sat down. Lynn looked down at her legs. She rubbed her hand against her eyes. “How are you doing?” He asked.
“Can ghosts even cry?” She muttered. She looked up and breathed no air, “You were right, pretending to breathe does calm the nerves.” She grabbed the cup and took a sip of the coffee. “Oh god, that’s the best coffee I’ve ever had.” She muttered.
“We get that a lot.” He replied.
“So I’m dead.” She said, “I think it makes sense.” She looked around at the coffee shop. Groups of people sat around tables, talking, laughing, contemplating. It was small but it wasn’t a lonely place. “Everyone in here is dead?” She asked, “Including you?”
“Yes.” He replied.
“How long have you been dead?”
He shrugged, “Since 1692.”
“Wow, that’s a really long time.” She commented, “Don’t you miss being alive.”
He shook his head, “Not really. I’m happy here and so are most people. Eventually everybody you love does end up here with you, so there’s nothing back on Earth for you.”
“That makes sense.” She replied, “So what comes next for me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do I just wander around aimlessly or stay and haunt this coffee shop for ghosts?”
He smiled, “No, you are going to get assigned a job.”
He leaned back and thought for a moment. “When I got here, I woke up in a field. I started walking around and after a while, this woman appeared. She was just like my mother, but made out of glass. She told me that she was a mirror because she showed me what I needed to see. She asked me questions about myself, my life, and then she asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I wanted to open a coffeehouse. They were beginning to become popular when I died and I always had the curiosity of what it was like to be in one. She told me that it would be my job to run a coffeehouse and that if I ever got bored or tired, she’d come back and I could change what I wanted to do. But I never did get tired.”
She listened silently and ran her fingers through the brim of the cup. “Death doesn’t seem that scary now that I’m living it.” She said.
The doors of the coffeehouse opened. A crystal figure stepped inside. It had the form of a young girl with long hair. Ferdinand pointed at the woman and asked, “Do you know her?”
Lynn turned around and gasped. She brought her hands to her mouth. “I do.” She said.
“I think that’s your mirror.” He stated, “Go with her.”
Lynn smiled as she stood up, “Thanks for the coffee. And for sitting with me.”
“Drop by anytime, it’s always on the house.” He smiled back, “And good luck with your afterlife.”
Lynn breathed. The glass woman extended a hand at her. Lynn took it. Ferdinand watched as the two smiled at each other and walked out of the shop and into the light outside.