A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a Facebook thread about coffee and time. I can’t remember the original post, but it was something about the taste of time travel and coffee. Anyway, I got to thinking about a cafe that served coffee flavored by moments in the past. I’ve had a few other notes scribbled down for a sci-fi story, and while I can’t work on it now, I thought I’d jot down a scene, just to take a break from the usual.
The Book of Astrophilia
“Name?” the barista asked.
“I meant for your coffee. What name can I put on the cup?”
“That’s a bit long, isn’t it?”
“That’s my name.”
“How bout Mir?”
In a flash, she’d grabbed the edge of the counter with both hands and leaned as far over as she could so that her face was inches from his. “People who mess about with names are stirring up trouble. You put Miranda-June and not one letter less.” She straightened up and noted his nametag. “Joe is it?”
“In fact,” he said, “it’s Josephilenova.”
She sniffed. “You look like a Joe.”
He asked her next for her order. “The time coffee,” she said, slipping her hand into her purse for the paper.
“Really? Alright then. Flavor?”
She handed him the bit of paper she’d pulled from her purse. It was a page from an old day calendar—November 3, 2029. She had November 4th tucked further down in the bag, but she was saving that for a very special occasion. Today, she thought warranted the day before. Her mother had given her those few saved pages. “This,” her mother had said pointing to the 4th, “was the best day of my life.”
Joe carefully took the paper and her money. He’d be more polite now. Not many people could afford a special-ordered time coffee.
She stood to the side to wait. Up on a high shelf in a bolted down glass container with laser —– protecting it was, according the label, Einstein’s brain. Miranda-June doubted this very much. The likelihood of Einstein’s brain having survived this long, survived several wars including the Water War Interaction of her mother’s generation and the Great Saturn Territory War of her own childhood, well that seemed remote. And for it to have survived to end up in a coffee shop on Europa was absurd. Obviously it was a bit of nonsense to go along with the name, The Einstein Café.
If it really were Einstein’s brain, the Einsteinovores would have stolen it and blown up the café for its blasphemy. Since the café continued to operate in one piece, its customers sitting around sipping their drinks and clacking away on their machines or chatting in hushed tones, it couldn’t possibly be Einstein’s brain. The only conclusion was that it was a fake.
But another idea crept into Miranda-June’s mind. The Einsteinovores wanted this place working. It was an unsettling thought and she looked around the room at the many clocks and pictures and fliers pinned everywhere. Surely they wouldn’t be so obvious as to call a hideout after their nemesis, would they?
She was glad when Joe pushed her drink across the counter. She took it outside so that she could see Jupiter. It was a beautiful view. At this time of day, they could see Jupiter’s famous red spot, the endless hurricane. The latest team to head into it had not been heard from in weeks and were presumed dead. No team had ever returned from the Red Spot. There was talk of sending a warhead into it, but many warned of unintended consequences. The Red Spot might be doing things they couldn’t understand yet. There could be life in there. Or the government argued, there could be energy.
Miranda-June checked her watch. Telling time was a tricky business. Every year in school they had to memorize all the many time zones and calendars. If it was noon in Chicago Earth, what time was it in Saturn’s Far North Metroplex? She’d always needed to cheat and keep a time chart taped inside her desk. Who could remember all the ins and outs of time? Why did she need to bother? She suspected it was just another way to keep children from studying anything important.
Thanks for reading!