Coffee

I remember what it used to smell like.
My dad would reek of the stuff.
It was as though he bathed in it.
The fumes must have been capable of permeating skin.

I remember the darkness it came with.
The smells were early-morning smells.
It was like some insect swarms that only appear after the sun sets, except this swarm appeared before the sun could rise.
It was an invisible swarm, sure, but a thick one all the same.

I remember that Mom wouldn’t drink it.
“That stuff” was “too much” for her.
Mom avoided caffeine, though, so that made sense.
Caffeine kept you awake when you didn’t want to be.

I remember wanting to be awake when I wasn’t supposed to be.
It wasn’t for kids, though.
My mom told me so.
I really wanted to be awake at night, though, so I supposed it didn’t matter.

I remember thinking, “One day, I’ll drink it.”
My dad, policemen, firemen, and scientists drank it.
All the important people drank it.
I wanted to be important.

I remember forgetting all about it.
The smells became more difficult to detect as I became desensitized to it.
Even the maker disappeared from my mind.
It was all background noise.

I remember noticing its absence.
I wasn’t living at home anymore.
There was no dad to make it every morning.
I missed the swarm.

I remember my first fake sip of the stuff.
It was a combination of that, chocolate, foam, and I’m not sure what else.
I was young, and my family and I were in a cafe.
I hated it.

I remember my first real sip of black.
I had a late class coming up, and I was tired.
It had caffeine, though.
Caffeine kept you awake when you didn’t want to be.

I remember buying that first real cup of black.
I went to a McDonald’s close to campus.
I suspected the quality would be cheap, but cheap was exactly what I wanted.
Money was tight.

I remember sitting in my car, the cup in my hands.
My first fake sip was on my mind.
But so was my dad and the morning swarm.
I brought my lips to the plastic lid and tilted back.

I remember the scorching heat of the nearly-boiling liquid.
I disengaged with the plastic lid with a start.
This was ritualistic, though, as I would do this same thing with any hot beverage.
I went in for a second sip.

I remember the bitterness.
As I recoiled from the heat a second time, I distinctly became aware of the new taste sensation.
It was like a kick to the mouth and a scraping of the tongue.
I hated it.

I remember not finishing the cup.
I couldn’t bring myself to drink further than five or six sips.
My stomach was a stormy sea of hot confusion.
I poured it out in some grass area beside the parking lot.

I remember the addiction.
Some addictions require only one hit.
I went back for more.
Again and again, I would go back for more.

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