Babel | Teen Ink


February 12, 2019
By sknerr GOLD, Princeton, New Jersey
sknerr GOLD, Princeton, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take -Wayne Gretzky" -Michael Scott

Albert drained the espresso in one gulp, smacking it back on the table. “I’ll have the check, please.” 

No one was in the cafe. The barista he’d seen earlier was gone. Sounds of life bubbled from somewhere in the room, but their source was vague. 

He shifted a little and bang, his elbow charged into the empty cup, leaving a scatter of ceramic spangles across the tile floor. It would be so cool to play that backwards. Shards jumping back up into a coffee cup. Like a Lego set, except each plastic brick could draw blood on the slightest touch.

The barista who Albert had seen earlier, a man that looked like one his parents might have been a gorilla, emerged from behind the counter. He didn’t say anything, but retraced his steps and returned with a dustpan. Tiptoeing to the table, he reclaimed the broken glass with deft strokes of a miniature broom. He didn’t talk. He didn’t breathe. He might be a mute, Albert thought. Or taking his mime homework too seriously.

“I’ll have the check, please.” The man raised his mane, tortured eyes wallowing in the sockets. He swished a hand limply, like he was trying to shoo a fly, mouthing a word at Albert, “Go.” Then he realized the barista was gesturing at the door. 

Albert exited onto the swarming sidewalk. Colors whirred by, breathing things and breathing machines. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Someone yelling, someone leaning on a horn. So many languages.

His feet brought him to a park. It wasn’t exactly intentional; it was like he’d blinked and was somewhere else. He was alone, with only a rusty swingset to talk to. He turned to face the city, and saw a man crossing the street towards the grass island. Sighs of wind tickled his hair.

The man was waving a Czech flag and bellowing something in a foreign language. His head was completely bald, shining like a rogue sun. And his eyes rotated like clothes in a washing machine, alert. Maybe he’d stolen them from an eagle.

A traffic light changed to green and bang, a taxicab charged into the Czech with a sickening crunch, leaving a splatter of little red droplets across the asphalt. Albert looked at his feet; then, fueled by the caffeine, he looked back at the crosswalk. The crescendo of sirens sounded from a couple blocks down as the man’s crumpled body murmured a final syllable. 

It would be so cool to play that backwards. A taxi reversing, a roaring foreign man rising from the blood on the street. A phoenix brandishing a flag. 

The sirens shrieked and someone screamed. Wheels turned and feet ran. And here he was, a man named Albert. At least that’s what his driver’s license said. 

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.