by Ryanne J. McLaren
honey oat latte
“Hot Honey Oat Latte,” called the barista. It’s Sam. I recognise his voice. It took me several months of frequenting Brew Skies Cafe, but now I can tell the main baristas’ voices apart from each other.
There is silence for a moment—well, as silent as a popular coffee shop can be. It seems that it is never truly silent here, and that is why I love it. My world is always dark, but, here, it need not also always be silent. The chattering buzz of conversation, the companionable whir of the espresso machine and milk frother, and the constant keening of singer-songwriters keep the air alive at all times. Usually the music, at least, comes from speakers, though I came one evening to find that it was a live performance. I remember it vividly even without the visuals, though I am told it was not very good. I am not musical, though, and I don’t care at all whether a voice is pleasant or not; I just care that there is on for, as long as I hear voices, I am not left alone in my dark, dark world.
I settle back into the comforting noises which surround me until my ears again detect the barista, Sam’s, voice.
“Hot honey oat latte!” He calls, a tad louder.
I am attentive now. Hot. He said hot. That is not my first clue that the weather is changing. When I stepped outdoors this morning to catch the paratransit to this cafe, I could feel it in my bones. Autumn. She is coming. She’s nearly here. I love autumn. Aside from spring, it is the most noise-saturated of seasons: crunchy leaves, Trick-or-Treats, schools resuming, children walking and shouting their way home, winds increasing, a little rain now and then.
And baristas calling out hot lattes instead of iced. I wonder if it is for the same girl—the honey oat latte girl.
I only know she is a girl because I’ve heard her order. She is here nearly as often as I am, though not on Wednesdays. I know this because I have not once heard Sam call out her order on Wednesdays—at least as far as I remember. Sam once remarked on this, on a Thursday when the girl returned and my ears prickled at the sound of her greeting.
“Oh,” the voice of the honey oat latte girl laughed. “I work from home on Wednesdays. I miss my lattes, but my wallet is grateful for the change!”
Her laugh is what won me over. It’s not loud, nor probably all that unique. But I imagine it has the same flavour of her favourite honey-oat lattes (Sweet, simple, honest...) and I can almost imagine what she must look like based on those two things: yellow hair, brown eyes. Yes, I can still remember those colours well enough to know that they must be hers. They have always been hers.
I’m imagining, though.
Sam calls out a third time. This time, he is answered with a laugh as a chair grates over the tile. The honey oat latte girl laughs her way to the bar to pick up her latte—the first hot one of the season.
Yes, it is officially autumn, I decide. And what a beautiful autumn it will be, so long as that laugh—that laugh like honey—continues.
About the author
Ryanne McLaren graduated with a B.M. from Biola University in 2019, where she was also a top scholar in the Torrey Honors Institute. Recently, she completed her distinction-level MLitt in “Theology and the Arts” at the University of St. Andrews. Ryanne works as a professional pianist/organist, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Much of her original writing can be read on her site, ABookishCharm.com.