Atomic tea

“Hey Eliot, do you want to go get some coffee?”

“Sure, let me grab my moleskin, a black button down shirt, and ennui.”

“Come on man, you want to go?”

“Which place are we going to? You know I hate coffee.”

“3Cups?”

“Deal.”

TW and Eliot walk out of their apartment, down the stairs, and out to Eliot’s blue Toyota. They drive, through the University’s hospital complex, past the basketball arena, and down the hill.

“Hey TW, have you ever been to a basketball game there?”

“Yeah, I brought a book. It got boring at parts.”

“What book did you bring?”

“Long Day’s Journey into Night.”

The car speeds along, trees a dark blur beside them. It bursts through occasional puddles of orange light and then submerges yet again.

“Can I get a white peony, please?” Eliot asks the woman behind the counter.

“Sure. I’ll bring it over to your table,” she says with a smile. “What can I get you tonight?”

“Blackest coffee that you have,” TW says with a smirk.

“Going to be up late tonight with school work?” she says as she works the coffee machine.

“Oh, of course not. I’m going to be up late writing, thinking about truth, art, and beauty.”

“Is he serious?” she asks Eliot with a bemused look.

“One can never tell.”

“Do you think she likes me?” TW says, sipping his coffee.

“Who? The lady behind the counter? Um, I have no idea. And I doubt she does either.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

Eliot watches the last grains of sand fall to the bottom of the time and pulls the basket of tea leaves out of the water. He lets the last drips of water fall down into the tea pot, careful not to waste any.

“These last few drops, in my mind, are the most powerful. If you let them drip onto the tray, you’re losing the best part.”

“Is that so?”

“I have no idea. But I like to think it.” Eliot takes a sip. “Tea is always where globalization comes home for me. I can look down into my cup and see leaves that were plucked by a Chinese man, thousands of miles away, a couple months ago. I could be drinking a few of his atoms in my tea.”

“You’re breathing in lots of peoples’ atoms right now.”

“That’s not the point. These specific atoms made it right here, to me.”

“I wonder if there’s a way that you can send him some of yours…”

Eliot takes another sip. With a start, he runs outside and starts exhaling loudly, almost wheezing.

“Sending him some atoms?” TW says, breath floating around his face.

“I wonder how long it will take them to get there.”

“I’ll help.”

Their drinks sit, slightly steaming.

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