The coffee shop closed its doors forever on the night before Halloween. The latest victim of the overeager wrecking ball, it was forced to step aside so the march of progress could continue unimpeded. 93 years of operation and 7,807,350 cups of coffee served—a proud legacy on which to end. The old building sighed with tired contentment as the neon OPEN sign switched off for the last time.
But, before the lights went out, a line stretched around the block. A herd of patrons had fortified themselves against the rain with boots and umbrellas, each come to say goodbye and drink a final cup. A few had whiskers painted on their faces or top hats on their heads, pieces of the tomorrow’s costumes dragged out for an early rehearsal.
The staff kept up with the litany of orders, throwing in an extra pinch of cinnamon here or a drop of maple syrup there, because why not? People kept crowding through the wooden doors. Even after they drained their coffees, no one left. They mingled and shouted and traded memories as the floor grew slick with muddy footprints. In the corner, someone pulled out an accordion and began to play a jaunty tune. People kept coming. Somehow the small shop managed to support more bodies than ever before, expanding on the inside, if only for a night.
And if some of those bodies weren’t 100% solid, who could complain? The old man with the handlebar mustache and twinkle in his eye. The woman in the lace bridal gown, a dark stain at her hip. The children who ran down from the cemetery, tattered and slightly see-through. Goodbyes aren’t reserved for the living, especially not on the night before Halloween.
Three days later the building was a pile of bricks and timber. Three months later, a row of condos took its place, rising up stern and proud. Three years later you wouldn’t even recognize the block.
People forgot that a coffee shop had ever been there, as they hurried past with shopping bags tucked beneath their arms. The streets were clean. The storefronts unremarkable. And the thought that ghosts would ever walk that part of town? Unthinkable.
But, every now and then, the sound of an accordion playing drifted out into the night.
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