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Coffee Break
 Scene: An old man is sitting alone at a small, round table in a coffee shop. Actions are proceeding as usual around him--the door's constantly opening and closing, people are chattering and shuffling about, orders are being prepared and served to customers, college students are typing away on their laptops--but there is no sound. The world is on mute. 

(At rise: The old man is sitting patiently at his table, awaiting his coffee. When the waitress brings it to him in an artsy cup with a spoon, he smiles politely and accepts it. She's off without another word. Instead of drinking it, the man brings the coffee up to his nose and inhales deeply. The aroma clearly pleases him, and he spends a moment or two simply smelling the brew. This contrasts starkly to the harried strangers downing their to-go espressos around him. After the moment passes, he takes a tentative sip of the coffee and instantly recoils--it has burned his tongue. He picks up the spoon and gently stirs it, shaking his head as if chastising it and blowing every so often to cool it down. After a few moments, he sets the spoon down and hazards another taste. This time it is at a manageable temperature, and he proceeds to close his eyes and savor the flavor. In his expression, you  can see a clear meditation of the kaleidoscopic tastes--the blend of the beans, the dashes of vanilla, the undertone of cinnamon. He drinks it slowly, studying the artwork on the cup in between sips. It is a comic of some sort, and upon reading  it, he chuckles silently. After a few more sips, he reads it again and chuckles even  more heartily. Upon reading it a third time, he barks out a soundless laugh, shaking his head and swiping a few tears from his eyes. No one around him notices.  Thoroughly pleased with the joke, he finishes his coffee and gets up from the table. Someone instantly rushes to claim it, dropping a stack of books and briefcase in the chair, and the old man simply smiles and drops his cup in the dirty dish bin. He signs a brief thank-you to the harrowed waitress who served him his coffee and, with a quick push of the door, exits the store. The second the door clicks shut everything erupts with sound. The crash of a blender, the hiss of an espresso  machine, the clatter of disjointed conversations, the scraping of chairs, the croon  of the woman on the radio, the bark of the girl calling out to-go orders--they all coalesce into the explosive crescendo typical of a big city coffee shop, where only a deaf-mute would ever pause, sit down, and in his own way, listen.) 
Gabriella de Paz
Published in Issue 32