This story has a very interesting premise -- I was given the first sentence and the last sentence. Given these, I was challenged to craft a story. Keep these "bookends" in mind! ;)


It was a dark and stormy night, and I had no umbrella. After another day of a schedule more exhausting than having a kid, I couldn't say I was pleased to discover that the weather was less than ideal. "Perfect," I grunted under my breath, sweeping around the revolving doors as I tugged the collar of my coat curtly around my neck. I turned sharply to the right, stalking along the sidewalk in a mood that followed the pattern of the raindrops – falling at an alarming rate. As a walk back to my apartment was my usual route home, I was sorrowfully unprepared for this development. The optimistic octogenarian who was usually sprawled on the sidewalk selling umbrellas was nowhere to be found, of course. After all, we wouldn't want to be selling umbrellas in a rainstorm. Sighing, I dragged a hand through my dripping hair. I knew more than anyone else that when my luck takes a turn for the worse, it never takes a wide, gentle curve, but I could tell that feeling like a miserable wretch wouldn't help my situation at all.

Deciding to simply continue with my normal routine, I headed off down the blocks, taking care to place my PDA inside a warm, safe pocket of my trench coat lest the weather deemed I had more to lose. I came to a stop beneath a tattered awning, my demeanor lightening as I ducked into my favorite coffee shop. The brisk musk of grinding coffee beans cut through the rain as I wandered up to the counter, not bothering to look at the menu. I noticed a strange new addition to the shop's usual aroma; a subtly floral scent, simple, yet ornate, modern, yet baroque. Soon after, I found myself inhaling the wondrous fragrance with the air of a connoisseur. The perfume's source soon became apparent -- a comely young girl, no more than twenty, busied about behind the counter, shaking a drink with one hand while stooping to pick up a cup that had fallen to the floor. I raised a mildly curious eyebrow -- I had never seen her before. The aging woman who usually poured out my coffee was nowhere in sight. Ah, but then she noticed me. Flustered, she straightened, smoothing out the impeccable apron tied about her waist. "Oh, excuse me, hello. How may I help you…?" she began. I shot her what I hoped was my most dazzling smile, taking note of her thick German accent before ordering my staple at this shop -- just a straight black cup of coffee, no unnecessary frills. Allowing her to keep the change, I thanked her in German, bringing forth a simply divine blush to her strong cheekbones; she shyly thanked me in return. I picked up a bright pace, taking dulcet sips of my coffee as I pushed through the glass doors, returning to the awning. Taking up a lounging position against one of the brick walls sheltered from the rain, I took in the scene with a sweeping glance. No need for bleak raindrops to taint the caffeine, after all.

The sky's deluge cried from the eaves of the skyscrapers, tracing a dreary path down countless office windows before hissing into the grates fixed into the sidewalk. Taxis sounded off in unison; a pair of crassly shouting drivers gave each other a piece of their mind as they drove past. Heck, maybe this day wasn't so terrible after all. Who wouldn't want to be under a snuggly awning in the pouring rain in the world's greatest city before heading home? My situation thus somewhat praised, I turned about, glancing once more at the serving girl inside the coffee shop, whose face glowed as she chatted pleasantly with another customer. A light through darkness, that one. A grin spreading across my face, I set out into the rain, my hands warm around my steaming cup as I disappeared through the downpour.

It turns out that she was, in fact, new to the coffee shop trade. A simple mistake in assembly made a new blender's power cord spark and quickly set the cup storage aflame. The bland news article reported no fatalities, so I assume the young woman made it out unscathed, or rather, alive; although one of the most cherished steps of my inflexible schedule was now entirely burnt to the ground. Or so I heard.

I left New York not long after that melodramatic rainy day, convinced towards a more laid back life near Albany over my rigid schedule in the Big Apple. But after I picked up that newspaper, I couldn't help but return. This day was much different from the one previously described -- the sun shone with a magnificent brilliance as I stood before the charred section of the block, nostalgia overcoming me at the place where I had purchased my daily cup of coffee so many days in the past. A slip of paper, starkly white against its blackened surroundings, informed me that the shop would be rebuilt a few streets over. I shook my head in disbelief, knowing that whoever owned the shop couldn't possibly recreate everything I had felt there, not only on that one day, but every other day besides. I knew it wouldn't be the same. The awning, the door, the counter, the menu, the employees, the blender, the coffee, and even the smell would change entirely.

I stared at that notice for a long time, turning things over and over in my head. Recalling my days in New York, I let fly a sharp, piercing whistle that gave a passing cab leave to screech to a halt. No matter how many times I chose to revisit the new shop, I could never again recreate those experiences, for change was already in motion. This was where the German waitress smelled of smoke.


R+R is love.