Sure, Charlie had a good life: he had graduated from the Kelley School of Business, married his high school sweetheart, with whom he had a daughter, and worked at a small but lucrative firm in San Francisco. But his wife Lindsay had been dead for over ten years, and the strained relationship he had with his daughter, Daisy, had dissipated from Christmas cards to scattered phone calls to absolutely nothing at all.
He still worked, but his office was undergoing changes: hiring young men with thin ties and ambition and an attitude that wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Charlie wasn’t stupid enough to think he would stay on his team. Sure, he’d been around the company since its inception, but the new CEO – Daniel Chapman – was barely thirty-five and he had been laying off the older employees one by one. “It’s just that younger folks integrate better with the new software,” Daniel shrugged, as he gave a co-worker her two week notice: “I just need someone with spark in their eyes, not just a twinkle.”
A couple of weeks later, on a quiet April morning, Charlie woke up at 6 a.m, as he always did, and went straight for the docks. For the first time in forty years, Charlie skipped work to sit at the white garden chairs at a cafe called Le Printemps. He ordered a single cup of coffee, and looked at the rows and rows of yachts, gently bobbing in the water.
He took out two letters from his pocket: one with “Letter of Resignation” typed on the back, and the other, addressed to his daughter Daisy. A change was needed, Charlie thought. He’d visit Daisy in Philadelphia, if she let him.
Story by ‘In’
I remember coming here with my father when I was just a little boy. It was a small coffee shop on the edge of the harbour. We used to come here after a long day of sailing just off the coast of Southern Florida. Everyone knew us there, they even had our orders memorized. I’d always get a hot chocolate and my dad would get Cuban Coffee. I never understood why though… he was born in Canada. After we would get our drinks, we’d sit in the corner so I could see all the boats that were coming into the harbor. My dad would ask me about my favorite parts of the day’s trip, and then where I wanted to sail to next. We always had so much fun together. One day he surprised me with a Polaroid camera for my 12th birthday. He knew how much fun we would always have together so he wanted to help me have those memories last longer. I would take so many pictures! They ranged from seagulls flying against the wind, to the islands we would dock at. I even have pictures of a lot of the boats that we sail past. In my room, I tape all the pictures in my wall to make a collage of my travels and experiences that I had. The picture I have here I took of my dad the last time we went sailing together. It’s been 40 years and I still remember those amazing times we had together.
Story by Evan Scolnick
Unlike Marcos’ own relationship with time, the years had treated Cafe del Mar well. The seats were the same shade of steely white, the potted daisies and lilies blooming like they had been when Marcos first saw the joint, back in 1954 or ‘55, when it wasn’t a chore to sit down, when his hair was short and tight and flaunted a noticeable lack of gray, when women in long green skirts would approach him, rubbing their hands over his naval uniform, smoking cigarettes and drinking stiff drinks, never concerned with learning names because everyday a new name was presented while an old name was lost, so why even remember in the first place?
At least the coffee was still shit. It made Marcos thankful, really, that the coffee was just as bitter, swimming with grounds, always a degree too hot or too cold. In this case, no change was a negative, which to those Marcos’ age was almost like a sign from God.
For him, change, the progression of time, the arrow of life had done little more than kick him in the balls and grey his hair. Women no longer approached him, just one puff from a cigarette sends him careening into a hacking fit that sounds like the deck guns he used to listen to, watching the locals strut around the pier in neon clothing, making them look like the tropical birds he’d seen during the big one.
Coming back here was not a good idea. The damned thing about change, is that it makes you want what was before. War was hell, and yet all he could think about, all he wanted was to be back there on the deck of his gunship, yellow sun beating down on his shirtless body that hadn’t yet been taken by fat.
Change. Marcos didn’t know how much change he had left in him. Change, like the coast, receding and gaining, never as it once was, fluid and unwritten.
Change. At least the coffee never changed.
Story by Mason Ahrens