I woke from a very intense dream this morning. This post is my attempt to capture this dream before it becomes a poor memory. It felt like a strong Act 1 Scene 1 from a movie or a novel to me, so I wanted to commit it to digital paper just in case I come back to it and decide to write a screenplay. Because, you know, that’s what every white collar dreamer wants to do, right?
We are in a classy coffee shop somewhere in North America. Dark wood, chrome catering machinery burnished by years of use and carefully-placed pendant lighting help to create an atmosphere of busy, friendly efficiency. Unmistakable aromas fill the air: fine roast beans, confectioneries and savoury temptations carried throughout the establishment by the steam from the dominant espresso machine.
There is a young man here. He’s alone, slowly stirring his dry triple shot cappuccino with the wooden stirrer he picked up from the side stand, where he’d also shaken the chocolate and cinnamon sprinkles provided free to all customers. Let’s call him Harry. We watch Harry for a few seconds. He’s a blonde young man, who looks fairly fit and well-travelled. His hair is probably three weeks behind schedule for a haircut and he has a few days’ growth of unremarkable stubble. He’s clean but looks like he might not have washed yet today. Probably just a rushed start.
Harry stirs his cappuccino absentmindedly, looking like he has a lot to think about. His shoulders are slightly rounded and his brow is furrowed as he looks down into his coffee. We notice (as the camera pulls into a wide shot) that the shop is very busy. Background noise begins to enter our ears and we notice couples chatting, small family groups and gatherings of friends occupying the rest of the coffee shop. There’s a busy and generally cheerful atmosphere about the place. Baristas busily build all manner of caffeine-based beverages to keep the customers happy and keep the tills ringing.
Harry is sat on one chair at a small table. What might be the only unoccupied chair in the shop (it probably isn’t but it might be) is at the table too, opposite him. Harry hasn’t noticed. He’s just thinking about something, slowly stirring the froth on his dry cappu into his three shots of espresso.
At the till, we see a young woman with brown hair, too wavy to be called wavy but not curly enough to be described as curly. She carries a small rucksack which looks well worn, and wears a long sleeved T-shirt and a knee length flared denim skirt. She probably wears a version of this outfit every day. She’s counting out small coins, to pay for the small latte which she’s just cheerfully taken from the barista. Let’s call her Kate.
Kate smiles at the barista, thanks him and turns to look for somewhere to sit. It’s only a second or two until she sees the unoccupied chair at the table where Harry is sat, still slowly stirring.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Um,” Harry wasn’t ready to be distracted from whatever he was thinking about. “Um, yes, okay, go ahead.” Kate smiles (just as she seems to smile at everybody, all the time), puts down her latte and sits. Harry looks up, not wanting to be ignorant.
“Mad busy in here.” observes Kate, “You weren’t waiting for anyone were you?”
“Not at all”, Harry responds, “Just grabbing a drink.”
Kate continues to speak and their conversation is lost among the hubbub of the busy coffee shop. Kate’s gestures towards Harry (as the camera pulls wide again), although animated and clearly heartfelt, become visually less dominant. We’re distracted by children asking their Mothers for lollipops from the shop’s displays; by businessmen picking up laptops and leaving; by empty chairs being pushed back to tables; by new customers entering, then reoccupying those chairs and beginning new conversations.
Some time passes.
There is nothing apparent in what we’ve seen to connect the chance meeting of Harry and Kate to what happens next. There must be some explanation, some reason that they’re desperate, or daft, enough to agree to try something which is at best foolhardy, at worst idiotic, certainly criminal and definitely wrong.