Excerpt Series Cont’d: Coffee and Swift Hugs

Splashes of color, twisted hallways and flashes of unknown faces, a twinge of apprehension, complete and utter confusion, running, lots of running, and then-

Jesse Williams awoke with a gasp and pulled herself into a sitting position. A small groan escaped her lips as she realized she was covered in sweat and she slowly began the process of untangling herself from her blankets. According to the clock on her night stand it was 5:00 am, an ungodly hour meant for sleeping, but she knew there would be no going back to bed now that she was awake. Nightmares were never fun to fall back into anyway, and that was all she ever seemed to have.

Closing her eyes, she let herself absorb the sounds around her. The creak of the fan turning back and forth at the foot of her bed, the song of birds chirping outside her bedroom window, and the unmistakeable sound of creaking floorboards and a pot of coffee brewing. She allowed herself a small smile as she realized that her best friend Kate was already up and going. Even though Kate absolutely abhorred the bitter brew, she would still take time every single morning to make a pot for Jesse. It was true that this was a gesture of sister-like affection towards her friend, but the fact still remained that a coffee-less Jesse was a monster of a moody brat to deal with. Kate was a very smart, smart woman indeed. A cup of coffee a day keeps the bad moods away.

Good morning sleepy head!” Kate’s voice came booming through the crack in the door, “Come and get your coffee while its fresh, eh?”

Jesse stretched out her tired, cramped body, and made her way to the kitchen in a sleepy haze. Just the smell of the coffee was already starting to work its magic on her and she gratefully picked up the cup Kate had already made for her and sat down at the kitchen bar. The warmth from the mug felt good on her cold hands, and for a moment she did nothing but stare into the pool of swirling browns and creams. She could feel Kate’s eyes on her as she took a long satisfying swig, and she waited for the question that she knew was coming.

Kate cleared her throat and took a swig of the tea she had clearly been working on since she woke up, before speaking. “How are you this morning?” She asked not too quietly. It was a loaded question.

Jesse looked up from her cup and met her friends eyes for a few minutes before taking another swig of coffee. Kate nodded, understanding what was unspoken, and set her tea on the counter before making her way over to Jesse’s side to give her a swift good morning hug. “I’m sorry…” she whispered.

Jesse returned her hug and offered her a small smile. “Not like you don’t know how I feel.” She patted Kate on the shoulder, “Don’t worry about it, Kate. I will be okay.”

Kate smiled back at her and gave her arm a squeeze in response, showing Jesse that she understood that things were not really alright and that she would be there if she happened to want to talk about it later. Jesse appreciated her friend for this. She knew Kate would never push unless she thought it was necessary. Today was not the day. Today, they would pretend like life was good and dreams were sweet. Today a good friend, coffee, and swift hugs were enough to make a life filled with too many nightmares bearable.

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