"Donna, I don't want any bloodycoffee! What I want is to have a moment's peace to focus and write. I have a deadline-something I know you are well aware of...what considering it's your husband that so generously imposed it on me!" John Noble said with a perfect balance of dramatics and irritation. In actuality, he looked more like a whining child being drug down the street by his fed-up mother, than a grown man walking with his sister.
John did indeed have a deadline, but truth be told, he had absolutely no desire to write. He was completely, utterly, hopelessly, and every other adverb imaginable that conveyed the degree to which he was blocked at that moment. For a man who had, as his sister Donna constantly called it, a "never-ending gob," he was completely void of words every time he sat down to write. Hours would pass as he just stared at the screen with that antagonizing cursor blinking in the corner. John had tried a variety of things to get the creative juices flowing-moving around, talking into a recorder, cooking, dancing, taking apart the appliances and putting them back together, and yet, nothing had worked. In fact, his appliances literally didn't work anymore. He was stalled and there was no sign of it getting any better.
"Oh just button it, John!" the ginger turned on him, looking at him squarely, her eyes blazing. "You've been doing things your way for over a month, and you know what you have to show for it? Three broken toasters, a melted coffee maker, and a sprained ankle from doing some sorta samba thing around your living room. Not to mention, I got food poisoning from your little 'inspirational' cooking escapade! I was in the loo for hours. My head didn't leave the bowl!"
John gave her an incredulous look. "How was I to know that you would have that reaction to the mushrooms?!"
"Because they came out of your front lawn, you twit! You can't just go pickin' random things out of the ground and stickin' them in a pot! Do you know what animals do on lawns, John? God only knows what I ingested!" Donna shouted at him, turning slightly green at the recollection.
"Fine!" he said, scrubbing his face with his hands and then throwing them up in annoyed defeat. "And just how exactly is going to get a coffee supposed to help me—other than getting you off my bloody back?"
Donna stopped abruptly, looking like she wanted nothing more than to whap him upside the head. With impressive restraint, she forced herself to take a deep, steadying breath and focused on calming down. Any other time, she would have let him have it in more ways than one, but Donna knew that this wasn't one of those times. She had seen him change more and more lately, and that slow, downward spiral worried her. John was taking manic to new heights and he showed no sign of stopping. She was running out of ideas and especially out of patience. Donna loved her brother more than she could ever say, but his stubbornness and her temper were a volatile combination that was creeping toward meltdown.
Obviously, she knew that coffee itself wasn't going to fix anything, or any drink for that matter. John needed an escape, and this shop was one of the best escapes Donna had ever known. Donna loved it and truly felt at peace there—almost like a home away from home. She had stumbled upon that hidden gem one autumn day. She had stormed out of her flat needing to blow off some steam after her fight with her then fiancé—now husband—Jack. She was so preoccupied with thinking of ways to make his life a slow living hell, that she didn't see the young blonde woman positioning a specials board directly in her path, and made direct contact with her, knocking her flat on her bum.
She hurriedly helped the blonde to her feet. "I am so, so, SO sorry! I wasn't lookin'...well, obviously. I'm just..."
"No worries," she said while brushing herself off. She fixed the sign and then looked up at Donna with a warm smile. But once she got a good look at her, the woman's eyes turned warm and thoughtful. "You seem to be having a rough go yourself. Wanna come inside? Have a cuppa on the house?"
At that moment, Donna was so angry, she was on the verge of tears. Looking into the kind eyes and warm smile of the young woman, Donna nodded and silently followed her into the shop. She plopped herself down at one of the mosaiced round tables and put her head in her hands. She fought to rein in her emotions; but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't keep her tears at bay. At the sound of a mug being placed on the table, Donna looked up. The blonde smiled softly at her. It wasn't a placating or pitying gesture; it was utterly genuine, and Donna welcomed it. The young woman took a seat beside Donna, and with one hand on her own mug and another on Donna's hand, she looked at her and simply said, "Tell me."
Donna spent the next three hours talking her heart out to the young woman. Even though she was a stranger, Donna felt so at ease with her and the weight of her day was gone. At the end of it all, she left having had the best tea of her life, her heart lighter, and a new friend. Ever since then, she went to the shop almost every day. Each time, she took in little details about the place and fell more in love with it and the people who ran it. It was her little secret haven; so the fact that she was now taking her infuriatingly lovable brother into said haven, spoke volumes about how much she loved him and how desperate she was to help him.
"John, for once, just listen and don't question. Please?" Donna's eyes pleaded more than her words ever could.
On seeing this, John was taken aback. He could count on one hand the number of times Donna genuinely implored like she just had. He opened his mouth to reply but quickly shut it. Instead, he simply nodded and opened the door to The Cuppa.