Before the coffee gets cold


The can of sweetened condensed milk in the fridge has long run stale. 

Shoved in an obsolete corner, its surface creeps with strange dots almost hidden by the off-center lid. Under the harsh, recognizably fridge-like glow, the sorry tin cylinder almost begs to be left alone. 

After finding its way into almost everything for years, the sickly-sweet goo has grown obsolete. First, it was the cream cheese pies. Other culprits followed in quick succession: the ice cream, the toast, the fudge. 

The final culprit stares up at me now. 

The substance is watery and dark, pure and devoid of the sweetened condensed milk it once knew so familiarly. Even without the promise of a sugary high, its scent is bewitching, luring in any passersby. 

The surface is so peaceful that I could almost be satisfied to just watch the odd bubble pop, but I can’t resist its allure. I take a sip. 

A blanket of warmth engulfs me, a sense of relief drifting along with it. I grip the mug tightly in my endlessly cold hands. The heat is almost scalding, but I hang on securely nonetheless. 

I let the power of the brew take over, surrendering my every sense to its powers. I briefly close my eyes, assured, knowing that I’ve delayed my otherwise inevitable slumber. There’s no better feeling in the world than this first sip. 

It’s bitter, though. And acidic. 

When did I start drinking my coffee black?

Long gone are the days where a mocha from Starbucks was a treat to anticipate, a cup of delight to be savored. No longer is the precious caffeine to be hidden and kept secret, a rebellious four dollars spent well. 

Somewhere along the way, sweetened condensed milk must have lost the novelty that was once inherent in its very existence as well. 

Once leisurely drizzles from a spoon, the luxurious flow of the sweetener became just another minute during late mornings, the rewarding result just another set of calories to regret. 

What was once just a want has now become an almost daily need. One sugary cup used to send electricity flowing through my veins, but the effect is now dull and predictable after the serving is downed: just another seven hours without worries of falling asleep to make up for the seven that I didn’t get. 

When did I start drinking my coffee black?

Day after day, cup after cup, the same blend travels from my mug to my soul, the inky liquid feeding the ever-growing void inside me. 

It grows and it grows, but I can’t stop. 

I live off the warmth it brings, the warmth that accompanies me through the toughest of days and the roughest of nights. The way that it allows me to stretch out my days is priceless to me, to the way that I’ve grown to live. 

The final remainder of my coffee stares up at me now. 

With the time that the consumer has spent lost in her thoughts, the drink has lost its warmth and charm. The enticing aroma is nowhere to be found, the mug similarly uninviting. 

I drain it senselessly, cursing myself for letting the coffee get cold.