The lounge is dim; it’s day out, but entering the room is like walking into night.
It takes a moment for his eyes to adjust. He’d thought the place would be empty at this hour, surely other people had jobs and lives. But no, apparently they didn’t. Most of the chairs, booths, and couches are occupied.
The music plays, loud enough for it to push any thoughts from his head.
He walks up to the counter, hitches his backpack higher up his shoulder. There are two girls ahead of him. He looks around, trying to find an empty spot to sit. If only there were fewer people.
The girls move away. He orders a hot tea and a piece of cake, hands over a few crumpled bills, and stuffs the change in his pocket.
When his order is called, he takes it to an armchair situated in a corner. Sitting down, he sees another spot he’d have preferred. Not that he’d get up to change.
He nibbles on the cake, letting the tea cool. After some time, he takes a sip. As the warm beverage slides down, he shudders. It’s hideous, and the aftertaste is even worse. He finishes the cake hurriedly. Now his mouth is dry. He takes a tiny sip of the tea, then wishes he hadn’t.
By the time he leaves, it’s dark out. Some rain falls lightly. He hugs his jacket to his body and walks on.