Jessica had just finished shifting her stuff into her new apartment. It wasn’t easy for her to persuade her parents that she wanted to stay on her own and be more independent. She had been spoilt by her parents since young and they were concerned that their only daughter was living away from them. She promised that she would visit them as often as she could on the weekends.
Jessica was a creature of habit. She would wake up at 7am sharp, get out of the house by 8am and take a slow walk to the office, arriving at 8.30am. On this particular morning, she noticed there was a new store along the row of shops she passed every morning. It was a tiny takeaway store selling coffee and waffles.
The waft of freshly brewed coffee proved too alluring. There wasn’t a queue or any sign of someone in the store. She wondered if it was open for business. Nonetheless, she decided to try her luck.
“Excuse me?” Jessica said, poking her head into the window.
The tiny store was packed with boxes on one side and a clean white table top on the opposite side. That was presumably used for preparing the sandwiches.
A tall lady appeared at the window.
“Good morning. How can I help you?” the lady greeted.
“Are you open for business? I smell freshly brewed coffee and am wondering if I could place an order for it,” Jessica replied.
“Sure,” the lady smiled.
Minutes later, she handed Jessica a white takeaway coffee cup with a lid and a brown paper bag.
“Have a waffle to go with your coffee. It would taste good,” the lady said before disappeared into the store.
After arriving at her office, Jessica sat down at her desk and opened the lid of her coffee cup. The aromatic smell of the black coffee soon filled her room. She took a sip of the hot coffee and was pleasantly surprised that the sweetness was perfect. She realised that she didn’t mentioned about adding sugar to her coffee and the natural taste of coffee was definitely not that sweet.
Hmm…how did she know the right amount of sugar to add? I like the taste of this coffee. It’s very fragrant.
From that morning onwards, Jessica would always pop by the store to grab her daily brew before heading to work. They hardly exchanged any words except the usual ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’. At times, the coffee would be ready just as Jessica approached the store. The lady alternated between waffles and cinnamon buns with the coffee. She insisted Jessica took the waffle or bun for free as it would go well with her coffee.
A month later, as per her usual weekday routine, Jessica headed for the store to grab her usual cup of coffee. She was surprised to see the store closed and wondered if the owner was away. To be honest, she had only seen that lady at the store and no one else. The lady could possibly be the boss of the store. She was sad that she couldn’t get her usual coffee fix as she had stopped drinking the instant coffee in her office since this store opened.
During lunch time, Jessica decided to pop by the coffee shop again to see if it was opened since the shop was very near her office. When she saw the shutters were up, she was delighted. Walking to the store, she noticed the lady packing some boxes outside the store.
“Do you need any help?” Jessica asked.
“Oh, it’s alright. I can manage it, thanks,” the lady replied.
“You didn’t open the store this morning, something cropped up?” Jessica asked in a concerned tone. She wasn’t sure why she felt worried about this lady. It felt that they had become friends through their weekday meetings during the last month, though they hardly shared any proper conversation.
“It’s the usual problem. My back was aching this morning and I had to see a doctor,” the lady explained.
“In that case, you shouldn’t be moving such heavy stuff. Let me help you, I insist.” Jessica bent down and helped the lady carry the remaining boxes into the shop.
“Thank you so much for your help. Here’s your daily brew. I’m sorry you missed it this morning,” the lady offered.
“I’m glad to know you’re alright now. In fact, I think you ought to go home to rest.”
“I’m fine now. Thanks for your concern.”
“I’m Jessica, Jessica Jung. What’s your name?”
“Yuri. Kwon Yuri.”
“Nice to meet you. It feels like we’re long-time friends though we don’t talk much. Maybe we can chat more from today?”
Yuri smiled and nodded.
For the next few weeks, Jessica would leave her house earlier so that she could spend some time chatting with Yuri at the shop before heading to work. Yuri never failed to tell a joke or two to brighten Jessica’s day at work. In return, Jessica would complain that she would be having cramps in her stomach due to Yuri’s lame jokes.
Jessica’s colleagues thought she was crazy when they saw her smiling to herself at times at her desk. They asked if she had a boyfriend but she shook her head.
At the start of the 4th month, Jessica was shocked to see a “SOLD” sign at Yuri’s store. She wondered what could have happened to her. It was then she realised that she didn’t had Yuri’s phone number and she wouldn’t be able to contact her to find out more.
Why did she sell the store? I thought business was fine for her? She told me that her passion was brewing coffee. Something must have happened. Could it be her back problems again?
Jessica’s thoughts went wild. She was worried about her friend. She tried calling the landlord of the row of shops in order to find Yuri’s number but to no avail. Yuri didn’t mention about her address and neither did she talk about her friends or family. Yuri had walked out of her life.
Standing in front of the store, Jessica felt a rush of emotions. A sudden memory flooded her head and she sat down on the ground to cry. It was all coming back to her now. Yuri was someone close to her. Yuri was Jessica’s girlfriend.
“Sica dear, I’ll be done with work soon. I’ll meet you at the usual budae jigae store around the corner ok?”
“Yes Yul. See you there!”
Jessica arrived at their favourite Korean restaurant earlier since she came from home. She parked her car by the side of the road. Just as she got out of her car, there was a beam of light coming towards her very quickly. The next thing she recalled was waking up in a hospital, with tubes running across her face and body and her limbs were in casts. Jessica had been hit by a drunk driver who crashed into her car when he swerved to avoid a cyclist on the narrow street.
*End of flashback*
Yuri sat down on the steps of an old house. There was a light breeze and her hair fluttered in the wind. Her grandparents left this house behind for her. It was Yuri’s passion in brewing the perfect cup of coffee that made her turn this house into a coffee shop. It had a small section where customers would learn how to roast coffee beans and learn to appreciate the art of coffee brewing.
Jessica had been one of her customers at her coffee appreciation class. They hit off very well the first time they met and soon feelings blossomed. They got together as a couple despite objections from Jessica’s parents. Jessica was their only daughter and they felt that there was no future in hanging out with a barista.
Jessica’s parents tried to break them up several times but failed. The accident a year ago gave them a perfect opportunity to erase Jessica’s memories of Yuri. They moved to Seoul, away from the countryside where Yuri stayed and worked.
Life was back to normal for the Jungs until the point when Jessica insisted on staying out on her own. They relented since they knew how stubborn she could be.
Yuri got up from the steps and walked into the house. She stood at the coffee counter and started brewing a cup of coffee. She poured hot water over roasted, grounded coffee beans in a filter. The water seeped through the coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, then passed through the filter into the cup.
“Sica ya, this is your favourite brew. We often roast the coffee beans together, do you still remember? Sica ya, I miss you. I miss you so much until it hurts,” Yuri said aloud, in a tone of sadness.
Yuri’s ears perked up at the sound of a soft feminine voice. She dried her hands on the apron and walked towards the main door. Her coffee house wasn’t in operation for several months and it was definitely not open today. She wondered if she had misheard someone calling her.
“Yuri ya, are you there?”
Yuri mentally slapped herself. She thought she heard Jessica’s voice but it was impossible since Jessica seemed to have forgotten about her.
“Kwon Yuri, if you don’t open the door, I’m gonna kick it down!”
Now that sounds like the Jessica I know.
Yuri hurried to the main door and unlocked it. There stood a blonde woman with an impatient look on her face. She was tapping her feet while leaning against the railing leading up the steps to the shop.
“What took you so long?” Jessica said with her brows creased.
“How did you find out that I was here?” Yuri asked, shocked by Jessica’s sudden appearance.
“I’m the resourceful Jessica Jung, in case you’ve forgotten. I thought I was the one with the memory loss,” Jessica smirked.
“But…your parents…I thought they didn’t want us to be together…”
“You owe Tiffany a huge meal. She told me about the condition set by my parents when I was lying unconscious in the hospital.”
Yuri thought about the time when she visited Jessica in the hospital. She tried to sneak in but was caught by Jessica’s mother. Her mother wanted Yuri to break up with Jessica since Jessica couldn’t remember anyone else besides her parents and her childhood friend Tiffany. Her mother insisted this was the best time to erase Jessica’s memory of Yuri so that her daughter wouldn’t be upset about the break up due to the memory loss.
Yuri was devastated. Tiffany saw how depressed Yuri was and she knew that her best friend Jessica was deeply in love with her. She decided to help the both of them but on a single condition. Yuri had to make Jessica fall in love with her again within a three month period else she had to stay away from Jessica forever. Thankfully Tiffany was able to persuade Jessica’s mother to accept that condition and the rest was up to Yuri.
“Are you going to just let me stand here in the sun?” Jessica complained, shielding her eyes from the afternoon sun.
“You really remembered everything?” Yuri asked in disbelief as she led the way into the shop house.
“If I didn’t, would I be here? Kwon Yuri, you’re such a dumbo!” Jessica gave Yuri a light smack on her head.
Yuri blushed. “Just in time, I’ve made your favourite brew.”
Jessica sat down at the coffee bar and took a deep breath, enjoying the strong aroma of her cup of drip coffee. She took a sip and a wide smile appeared on her face.
“You still make very good coffee, Barista Kwon.”
Yuri missed seeing Jessica’s smile. “How did get your memory back?”
“This,” Jessica said simply. She pointed to the cup of coffee in front of her.
“There was a sense of familiarity when I first had the coffee you made. It wasn’t easy to find someone who could make such a nice cup of drip coffee, with the type of coffee beans I like. I guess after drinking it for some time, it kinda of triggered my memories of the times we spent here.”
“You…you remembered that we were together?” Yuri asked cautiously.
“Kwon Yuri! You’re still a dumbo! If I didn’t remember my feelings for you, why would I travel three hours to this little town to look for you?!” Jessica raised her voice slightly, frustrated at Yuri.
“Ok ok, I get it!” Yuri shielded her face from Jessica’s impending smack.
Instead, Jessica held onto Yuri’s hands and pulled her face towards hers. Their foreheads touched each other’s and the tempo of their heartbeats rose.
“Come back to Seoul with me. You could reopen the shop you had. The location was not too shabby and I’m sure more people will get to know about your coffee very soon. We could set up a Facebook account and help spread the word, or give out some coupons for people to try,” Jessica said gently.
Yuri gazed into Jessica’s eyes. Tears brimmed in Yuri’s eyes as she nodded.
“A barista’s a proper job too. Don’t worry about my parents. I’m old enough to make my decision and my decision is you, Kwon Yuri.”
Jessica closed her eyes and kissed Yuri.
From that moment, they never parted. Bonded by their strong love for each other and for coffee.