The Twilight Owl (Part 1)

The soft pitter-pattering of the rain on the lavender stained glass windows of the Twilight Owl brings with it a blanket of calm to the regular café patrons lounging within. A low buzz of conversation fills the air as the ambient music underscores their pleasantries. The fairy lights strewn about the place twinkle with an inviting pink glow, emanating a warm haze to those enjoying their nightcaps long after the sunset.

The Espressialist stands patiently at the bar with her hair loosely tied back into a messy black bun that is nonetheless spilling out to frame her face. Her shoulders droop from the long break-less hours and her feet ache from the lack of stools to rest on behind the counter. She absentmindedly rinses a clean glass with a tattered rag, her ears wandering off to collect the whispered fragments of others’ conversations.

She does not mean to snoop, but there is quite frankly nothing else to do that is “unproductive” besides brewing new coffee variations for herself or doodling out her thoughts when the busyness subsides.

People-watching is one of her favorite pastimes, and there is no shortage of interesting characters here whose psychology she wishes to explore. There is something about a great cup of coffee that lowers one’s guard down enough to share the kind of things one may only read about in textbooks.

She still often recalls the time an old woman shuffles into the bar quietly asking for several shots of espresso for a rest stop on the way to her son’s funeral. Five minutes later, a younger woman flounces into the café bar eagerly ordering drinks for everyone to celebrate her sister’s upcoming wedding. The sheer contrasting display of human emotions sent The Espressialist reeling, and to this day she does not know how to process that quick succession of events. When one is at their highest, another is quite low.

Inlaid into the bar counter are a dazzling variety of espresso cubes, hemispheres, and pyramids. Every pod can comfortably fit into the palm of one’s hand, each gleaming with curiosity and intriguing hues. Some just mimic the taste of a much-needed morning espresso, adding a spicy kick to start the day off right, while others will guarantee to keep one awake and functioning for the next three days straight. Bursts of flavors abound in these cute compact capsules, from a salty seawater toffee caramel to a plethora of pineapple and papaya. Condiments, meals, and desserts have all been encapsulated into tiny espressos.

There are times when a newcomer wanders in and marvels at the sheer sight of options, overjoyed yet overwhelmed, with their eyes bulging out and their jaw dropping low. The Espressialist politely smiles and remembers when she first started working here, how determined she was to learn the names of everything and willing to be able to confidently guide anyone on the perfect espresso choice for them.

She did, and she does.

But, if she is honest with herself, it is a little bittersweet on the other side. Much like the butterscotch pod.

She wonders why that one is the most popular purchase.

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