TEEN FICTION: 'This Coffee House'

This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.

Of the dozen or so coffee houses in my area, this one is the most convenient. It sits adjacent to a light rail station, where I catch a train almost daily, heading downtown to my university. I am a student, and this coffee house is where I do my work every Friday afternoon. It is here that I am most productive, and the two dollars worth of beverage I consume is worth the efficient two-and-a-half hours I spend burning through more material than I would at any other location. Efficiency is important to me. And it is here, in my coffee house, that I am most efficient.

I do not enjoy interacting with people anymore. It makes me nervous. Or it just annoys me. Happy people annoy me and they're always the ones that want to say, "Hi!" and once they say, "Hi!" like you're their long lost friend, there is no escape. And they think they know what life is, and they think that it's good if you want it to be. A happy person once told me that I shape my own reality. I almost hit him. Instead I waited to get home and I broke down. Since then I've avoided social functions. People like that gather and it's like buckets of bright colored paint have been splashed over the world. It looks exciting, and bright, but that's not how the world really is. If there's anything I can't stand, it's a conspiracy to deny. The people who dwell at the coffee house are not like that. They seem more real to me. Like they have issues too.

It is around my coffee house that I have arranged my new life. I enjoy it, because it is a life in which I can function. While I am still consigned to dependence, while I must rely on my parents for food, shelter, and funds, in the same city where I grew up more than I'd ever wanted to, this is the best possible scenario. It is certainly a better course to take than running off now and losing everything. Even though it doesn't feel like it, I've retained enough intelligence to know that, yes, I still do have some things to lose. When I'm able to feel that again, I'll know I'll be fine. Then I can finish here and move on to a different city. Live out of a small, clean apartment and earn my advanced degree. Until then, I have the coffee house, with warm lighting, warm drinks, and mellow music. And when I leave, I know I've accomplished something; I can tell by the scent of coffee beans that lingers on my sweater. It's a comfort.

This Friday I take my place at a small indoor table with two chairs. I exchange two bills for a ceramic mug with room for cream. I settle and remove my supplies from my shoulder bag. Today I am studying for my Physiological Psychology class. This week, we learned about how we see.

Our basic visual receptors are rods and cones. Cones process color. Rods do not. Yet there are twice as many rods as there are cones. If one has normal vision, color dominates the lighted world. Remove the light, and cones nigh worthless. What a set-up, I think, that we were built for the light but equipped for the dark.

I laugh at myself for my philosophical interpretation of the human retina. I get back to work. I begin to feel less alone.