I huddled under the bus shelter as a cold mist sprinkled down from the sky. The promise of a warm summer day perished under the dense cover of grey clouds. I boarded the bus, wrapping my cold puffy fingers around the metal pole, grumbling at my desperate attempt to remain standing while the bus driver had a go at his Mario Andretti impersonation. Heat stemmed from several bodies packed in the narrow aisles and drove away the chill. Twenty minutes later, I tumbled from the congested bus into the cold air. The chilly mist had swelled into a downpour.
I scuttled across the street, ducking under my tiny umbrella, rubbing my cold fingers, trying to generate some heat; the old lady emerged and nestled her frigidity into my finger joints. I raised my eyes and spotted a coffee shop; it stood boldly on the corner, beckoning to me like a shining star and I eagerly shuffled towards it.
I pushed through the glass doors and ordered a steaming mug of hot coffee. I embraced the mug in my hands like a long-lost lover, wrapping my fingers around its porcelain heat. I hobbled towards a seat at the counter, clutching the warm mug close to me as if it was a stolen treasure from Machu Picchu. I could almost hear the hiss of my frozen joints thawing out around the ceramic. The scent of roasted coffee teased my nose, but I waited until the icy stiffness in my fingers thawed, reclaiming their natural motion. I raised the mug to my lips for that first ardent sip; the warm liquid coursed through my cold blood and, for a short time, bumped the frosty bitterness of the old woman out of my hands.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.