“Back in a Minute” by Matthew Zanoni Muller

A new piece by alumnus Matthew Muller (fiction, ’10) appears online in the Lowestoft Chronicle:

Back in a Minute

We lived at the bottom of Spencer’s Butte in Eugene, and sometimes, on weekends, we climbed to the top. My mother told us to listen for rattlesnakes that she said lived on the mountain, in case they were coming near the path. The whole darkness of the underbrush seemed about to rattle. The enormous trunks of the evergreens rose out of the inclines below us to a ceiling of branches and leaves above. In this green darkness, my father started talking about the cafe he would open if he ever had the money and wasn’t a poor teacher.

“Well, to start with, we’d make the best coffee in the world,” he said. Coffee was his ritual and his obsession. “Big giant cups overflowing with foam—and hot!” It had to be burning hot.

“And hot chocolate?” we asked. We didn’t want to be left out.

“Of course. But maybe you boys would like it even more if you came and took a toy from the free toy bin that would be at the front door.”

“Free toys?”

“Totally free. And once you had your toy you could walk out to the back terrace, a nice back terrace, like the ones in England.”

“In England?”

“Yes, the ones your mother and I would go to, to have our tea, but none of those, of course, had slides.”

“Slides?!”

“Yes, water slides, in fact, that you could slide down into the pool on. There is, of course, a little stream that goes along the terrace, and it makes a little pool, with the clearest water.”

“And you can just go swimming in it, at the café?” I said, full of wonder.

“Yup. The slides would go into the swimming pool. And when you came out, you could come and sit with mom and me at one of the tables, and all the tables would have just enough shade, and just enough sun, and hanging, in the branches above them, would be the most beautiful little lanterns.”

We were almost at the top, but he kept going. Our image of the restaurant was growing and shimmering as we came up through the trees.

“There would also be a whole counter full of only marzipan candies!” my father said.

Continue reading online at Lowestoft Chronicle.

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