A flock of Susans descend upon the cafe
pulling tables and chairs together, disrupting the careful arrangement
the opening baristas laid out four hours ago.
They close ranks armed with lattes biscotti and well-worn pages
of Pride and Prejudice, cracked covers dotting the tables
as the Alpha Susan calls the meeting to order
and launches into a well-prepared monologue
about Austen’s impact on her,
eliciting a chorus of nods and mmhmms
from the Beta Susans.
One of them hasn’t read the book at all
and feels the full heat of the tables baleful gaze
when she confuses two of the gentlemen callers
and has to flip back a few chapters
to get her story straight.
While the quiet trial of Susan #7 begins,
life continues it’s lazy orbit around them.
A pack of Seans from the film school
read the dialogue aloud from the Tarantino-clone
they wrote late last night high on brashness, bourbon and bong hits
every verbal somersault and triple-axle spin netting guffaws
and “Fuck yeah man this is great!”s
They haven’t slept.
In the far corner
two Victors sip a silent cup
and dredge up ghosts from the sixties and seventies.
They normally don’t but they’ve got time to kill
their limps are acting up and they’ve still got an hour
until the meat draw over at the Legion.
Behind the till, refilling the scones
a freshly-single barista keeps her best face on
while inside she’s making a mental inventory
of the things she’ll need to take from Chad’s apartment
before the day is through, just the essentials
to see her through while she takes up residence on Sarah’s couch.
Maybe this time will be different, she dreams
maybe she’ll take this as a sign to get things straightened out,
and I mean really straightened out
Get those student loans, finish that degree,
quit this fucking job and stop lying to grandma
about what the city’s like.
The clink in the tip jar pulls her back.
One of the Beta Susans put a toonie in the jar marked
“It’s a party and your change is invited!”
and as she scoops up her second latte she gives the barista
the most genuine smile humankind has ever witnessed.
This time will be different.