Coffee Traders, a funky little cafe just off Main Street in Mornington, catches the eye due to its ivy exteriors. Click to read the short story by set in Melbourne…
It had seemed a while since Jake last sat outside wearing nothing but a jacket, t-shirt and jeans. Japan’s winter had been painfully cold, yet as he sat waiting for his friend outside Coffee Traders Jake thought how nice the outside tables would look covered in a blanket of snow. He had arrived in Melbourne three days earlier and was feeling apprehensive about seeing his friends again.
“Jake, man it’s been ages,” came Peter’s voice from behind.
The two boys embraced with firm slaps on the back, Peter’s slap having just the slightest more force. When they released the hug a short silence followed before Jake replied, “I know, like almost two years right?”
“Far out, yeah,” said Peter.
The two boys ordered coffee and took the last free table left outside. Though it was bustling their coffees arrived quickly and with two little chocolate eggs resting on the saucer. The waitress smiled cheerfully at them and wished them both a happy Easter as she placed their cups on the table. She looked to be about 17 and Jake was sure he remembered her from Mornington Secondary School. That it had been over two years since he himself graduated from there was just bizarre. It seemed like yesterday – school uniforms, his friends, lunchtime conversations about footy with the guys and getting town gossip from the girls. And yet he knew if he put that uniform on now it wouldn’t fit and not just because he’d grown an extra foot.
A thin layer of cloud covered Mornington but it was still pleasant enough to sit outside. The other tables were filled with couples and families and just next to their table two brunettes in their 20s were sipping tea and giggling loudly.
Jake suddenly found it strange to hear other people speaking English around him. He’d gotten so used to not being able to fully understand conversations that eavesdropping now was a treat.
“So tell me about it,” said Peter beckoning from him the tales of his travels.
“It was really cool man. I was just like cleaning and shit in the resort at first but I ended up getting my ski instructor licence and did like the English tours for tourists.”
Peter seemed impressed by this. Jake went on to tell him stories of drunken nights, parties, girls and other hazy memories. Peter, who’d stayed in Mornington since they finished school, laughed along to his stories and asked for more details about the girls.
“So like, is she also moving back to Melbourne?” Peter asked.
Jake shrugged; he hadn’t really spoken to Anna since he left other than to tell her he’d landed safely in Melbourne a few days earlier. In all honesty, he hoped she’d stay there; an expired visa seemed like an easier end than a conversation about how his feelings had changed.
A few rays of sunlight started to weave through the clouds making patterns on the ivy-covered walls. Perhaps he had missed the Australian warmth.
“Fuck, how’d you get that scar?” Peter asked when Jake took off his jacket.
Jake stared at the pink line that ran from his elbow halfway down towards his hand. It had faded a lot since his accident on the slopes of Hokkaido and this was the first time Jake had looked at it in months.
“I had a skiing accident when I first moved over,” Jake replied.
“It looks pretty bad man,” Peter remarked taking a closer look at Jakes arm.
“Yeah I guess, looks better now than it did then though,” he said.
“Better memory than a tattoo,” Peter laughed, “anyway so Jono’s having your party at his parent’s shack tonight so we should pick up a few 6-packs on the way.”
Jake nodded in agreement but his mind was still fixed on his scar. He let Peter continue talking about who would be at the party tonight and what his friends had been up to since he left.
Jake thought about Takuya and wondered if his scar would help him hold onto the memory and the promise he had made. He had tried not to think about Takuya since arriving home, although he knew that the accident and his stint in hospital were part of the reason that he had returned to Australia. He’d been offered an extended contract at the resort in Niseko, an offer that was still there for him if he wanted it. He’d been popular amongst the tourists and his manager, Makoto, had offered him a position as a permanent tour guide during the summer season. Most of his friends were finishing up with the winter season but he’d been asked to stay on. Makoto had said there would be plenty of use for him as the English speaking tourists often liked the planned day trips to Lake Toya or Noboribetsu. Jake could have added value, Makoto had said, as they wouldn’t need to source their tourists out to other companies.
But Jake had made a promise to Takuya 18 months earlier to return home and go to University. He’d initially said he’d go back straight away, promised Takuya as they both lay in beds in Kutchan-Kosei General Hospital. At the time the promise had meant so much, but as Jake recovered it faded like his scar.
He knew that without Kenichi, the head nurse at Kutchan-Kosei, Takuya wouldn’t be alive today. Takuya had kept the promise and was back home in Kyoto probably now in his second year of study. The two boys emailed each other often when Takuya first moved back but when Takuya began to realise Jake was not holding up his end of the deal, the conversations became more formal and less frequent. However when Jake emailed Takuya a couple of weeks ago telling him he was returning to Australia, Jake received his first email in months where Takuya addressed him with the informal “-chan.” That word of affection and familiarity had stirred many emotions in Jake after months of only reading the very formal “-sama.”
Jake knew he was back in Takuya’s good graces – for now. Yet he feared that his revert to Jake-chan meant he was again accountable. Takuya was the most serious 19-year old Jake had ever met; loyal, kind and with an unashamed honesty that Jake so admired but could be mistaken for naivety if you didn’t know him well.
But Jake did know him well. The two had slept beside each other for three weeks in hospital beds; there was nothing to do but to get to know each other well. Jake knew if he didn’t go to University, that night, where he awoke to Takoya and Kenichi standing at the open window, would loose its significance. While it was Kenichi who had saved Takoya that night, it was Jake who had made Takoya smile again. They had both later agreed that more Kenichis were needed in the world and that they would personally see to it. Jake knew if it weren’t for Kenichi he’d never be able to stand near an open window again.
“What do you think of nursing?” Jake asked Peter after Peter had told him about how Sarah and James were now living together.
“I dunno, Kelly-Anne moved to Bendigo to do nursing, picture her in a nurse’s uniform,” he smirked.
“I was kinda thinking of studying it,” said Jake.
“Did your dick fall off in Japan?”
– The End –
3 Blake Street,
Mornington, VIC, 3931.