Kim Mihyun was never one for dreaming. While her classmates were planning their careers as doctors and rockstars and business moguls, Mimi was doodling in the corners of her notebook and discovering the most comfortable way to take a nap under the tree in front of the school. Mimi wasn’t lazy, or lethargic, or anything of that sort. She was just taking time slowly, at each day, without regard for the days that continued.
When she applied to a culinary school for a restaurant management degree, her mom had been a bit more than skeptical. Hadn’t she always hated her restaurant job? Mimi played it off, but she didn’t really know. It just felt like the place to be at the time. And maybe meeting Hyojung was the reason why.
Hyojung was her freshman year roommate, a girl a year older than her plowing her way through a pastry and baking arts certificate. The two had an instant sort of friendship that started when Mimi smashed her head against their dorm door while trying to leave to go take a shower. The friendship started because Hyojung, counter to everyone else Mimi had met, hadn’t responded by laughing and making fun of it, but by pulling an incredibly well stocked first aid kit out from under her bed and talking about how Mimi should make sure to not get a concussion or something worse.
The cafe had been Hyojung’s dream, but Mimi sometimes liked to imagine it had always been her dream too. But it was her dream the way same that writing a TV show had been her dream in high school: it was someone else’s dream, and Mimi was more than happy to be pulled along the way.
“I just turned the entire espresso machine off.”
“You what ?”
“Oh god, this thing takes like ten minutes to get started. I am so sorry I did not mean to put you through this.”
“Jiho, it’s-” Jiho spun so she was facing directly towards Mimi, rather than the espresso machine, placing a hand on Mimi’s shoulder.
“You have done so much for me already, from giving me a job in the kitchen to moving my job to the front of the house when I ruined five separate batches of eclairs in a row despite Hyojung’s careful tutelage. I have my whole life to thank for your kindness and generosity, but if you choose at this moment to say goodbye to me forever after what I have done, after all that i have destroyed, I completely understand.”
“Jiho, you just,” Mimi flicked the machine back on. “Turn it back on.” Jiho watched the machine whirr as it started to heat itself up again.
“I was trying to see if I could get you to cry,” Jiho huffed. “Convince you that you’d have to fire me.”
“You tried to get me to cry by turning off the espresso machine?”
“No! That was purely on accident, but I’ve never been one to look a potential gift horse in the mouth.” Mimi nodded numbly, clearly not following. Jiho could see it too. “But I guess I just can’t do anything I want to in this house!” She said angrily, storming past Mimi and into the kitchen.
“Why do I feel bad for not firing her right now?” Mimi mumbled, watching her go. “Why did she make me feel bad for not firing her?”
Mimi slid into the back room, after finally dragging Jiho up front to do her actual job. Her professor always told her she had to be hard on her employees, even if they were her friends outside of work, but was anyone actually going to take her yelling at them seriously? Were they going to take Hyojung yelling at them seriously?
“Make sure you’re not overworking the flour here. It should be until it’s just combined, but no more.” Hyojung was directing Yewon, her current padawan (Hyojung’s words) in baking.
“What happens if I do?” Yewon asks.
“You rip apart the fabric of the universe,” Mimi remarks, walking up to the bench they’re working at.
“It’ll make the dough tougher and less enjoyable to eat.” Yewon didn’t have any formal training (nor much informal training), and sometimes Mimi wondered if she actually had any interest in baking, but she was a quick learner and they enjoyed having her around, especially Hyojung. Mimi wasn’t about to question Yewon’s reasons for being there.
“Do you guys need anything out there?” Hyojung asked.
“I don’t think so. School is getting out soon and sometimes the high schoolers like to come here and order a bunch of brownies and cookies and pretend like they’re sophisticated while drinking hot chocolate, so maybe that.”
“So maybe that,” Hyojung echoed, turning to Yewon. “And she has a masters degree in running this place.”
Yewon snickered. “So maybe that.”
Mimi paid no mind to the people who walked into the cafe at three pm, while it was mostly dead and Jiho spent most of the time trying to pretend to understand the distinctive flavors of different coffee varieties. They were customers, but Jiho, who did more reading than Mimi and also was just a bit better at having an immediate strong reaction, did not pay them no mind.
“We’re dead,” Jiho said, jumping up from leaning on the counter the second the bell in front of the door rang. “We’re so dead. Mimi how could you do this to me. You should have told me in advance I would have changed my identity and fled the country.”
“Don’t you know who that is?” Jiho asked, and a second later her face dropped, as it came across her mind that no of course not, why the hell had she expected Mimi to know who that was. “The short haired girl is Bae Yoobin. She’s one of the most notoriously critical food critics in the area. With one review she shut down a fine dining restaurant that had existed for one hundred years prior. She’s serious, you understand?”
“Uh huh.” The two of them had approached the counter, ready to order. Mimi turned, giving her best smile.
“You aren’t supposed to be here, witch!” Jiho shouted, and the smile immediately fell from Mimi’s face. The food critic frowned, and the girl next to her gave Jiho a bemused expression.
“ Jiho! ”
“We aren’t here to critique your food,” the girl said to Mimi. “We just wanted some coffee and scones or something.”
“Although let me be clear that if I were, you would not be off to a great start.”
“Let me be clear that if this were sixth century, Anglo-Saxon England, before Christianity took over, I would go through a series of Beowulfian challenges and eventually destroy you!” Yoobin opened her mouth, looking at Jiho. Perplexed beyond words. That certainly was Jiho’s specialty.
“What kind of coffee?” Mimi asked, trying to drag Yoobin’s attention away from Jiho. “Jiho, go help Hyojung.”
“You said I was only allowed in the kitchen if it were an emergency.”
“I’m about to choke you to death.”
“Hey you don’t need to tell me twice, bossman. I’m getting bad vibes all over this place thanks to this ,” she overtly gestures to Yoobin. Mimi sighs. “And I don’t want to be here for that. Good vibes only, you know?”
She leaves and Mimi sighs again.
“She seems nice,” the girl next to Yoobin says, giving Mimi a friendly smile.
“She’s my best friend and she’s the absolute worst,” Mimi says, trying to match a smile but not succeeding much. “So what kind of coffee again?”
Bae Yoobin’s friend comes again, and again, and again. Somewhere along the way Mimi actually catches her name, one of the days when she orders a coffee to go, this time needing to give her name. It’s Seunghee, and she usually comes once during the morning rush, and again in the afternoon when it’s dead. Mimi didn’t register her the first times she came in during the morning. She was a bit more preoccupied with desperately trying to make every coffee order in a reasonable amount of time. Despite most of these people being in a rush, they really like complex, time consuming coffee orders.
In the afternoon Mimi registers that it’s her, because she sometimes says more than just a coffee order or a name, and she sits and does some kind of work at a table.
Jiho also recognizes her, and has taken to try and butter her up, maybe to make up for calling Yoobin a witch.
“Jiho, please stop bothering customers,” Mimi says one day, while Jiho is loudly explaining the entire plot of the new Wolverine movie to Seunghee. “I need you to get more coffee beans from upstairs.”
“Just trust me, it’s such a great movie, you’d love it,” she said to Seunghee before disappearing into the back.
“I’m sorry about her.”
“It’s all fine, I just don’t know why she explained the whole plot of the movie when I said I’d seen it,” Seunghee replied.
“I think she’s used to talking to me. I really only go and see movies when someone else suggests it.”
“Kinda sounds like Binnie.” Mimi gave her a look. “Yoobin. I say kind of because you’ll catch her at the midnight premiere of any Guillermo del Toro film, but an Avengers movie? Absolutely someone else’s birthday.”
“Hey, has Binnie ever reviewed this place?”
“Not to my knowledge. The first time I’d ever seen her was when you both came in a while back, and I haven’t seen her since. We’re kind of new, we took this place over from an older guy who retired. Redid the whole place to give it a more modern feeling. It looked like an old 50s diner when he owned it. Not great for a cafe. Jiho ran most of the remodeling. She has an eye for that kind of stuff, somehow.”
“I didn’t realize this place changed hands, although it’s been on my ‘places to try out’ list for a while.”
“Yeah, I don’t think a lot of people seem to realize, even though we changed the name and everything.”
“Happens in a place like this,” Seunghee said. “We’ll probably be in here soon for that then.”
“You do the reviews as well?”
“I try out the food with her, so you also know you’ve got at least one positive opinion. Me her and a friend of ours named Shiah. It’s weird if it’s just one person, multiple people gives her a more varied response to the meals. Doesn’t mean she listens to a word we say though.”
“She emails in advance, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah. She’s so picky about what she likes that she says restaurants should at least be allowed to put their best foot forwards.”
The next time Seunghee comes in during the afternoon is a week later, but Mimi beats Jiho to the punch this time and talks to Seunghee first. She’d specifically set Jiho up at the register, rather than cleaning the tables, so she’d stop heckling so many customers.
“Are you a student?” Mimi asks, peering over Seunghee’s shoulder. She hadn’t really intended to start a conversation, but curiosity about the work Seunghee did while she was here got the better of her.
“No, I work for the city community center. I work on the planning side of things mostly, setting up after school activities for children and programs for parents and adults to keep them educated on things they might not normally be able to get educated on.”
“Once my town showed a propaganda film about how TV and computers are brainwashing kids into murdering their parents, so my mom dropped me off at the library all day every day and told me to read books. But there were computers at the library so I just did that instead.”
“That’s a vaguely horrifying story.” Seunghee grinned though, clearly entertained.
“Years later I went to the town hall and managed to track down the name of that film and watch it. It really was a well made, convincing film, if you weren’t a person who grew up on technology.”
“It can be tough to run these types of things sometimes. You don’t always know if the stuff you’re sharing with people is actually true, and the last thing you want is to misinform people. Plus there’s a lot of outside influences that are constantly trying to get a say in what’s being shown. One of those hokey vegan movies was being pushed for years. We resisted it as best we could, and thankfully they gave up before we lost. It’s unfair to show something like that, especially when most the movies they were vying for were rife with misinformation.”
“Thank you, I went to college.”
“You are just really killing it with your language choices, I gotta say.”
Seunghee grinned. “I’m sure my composition professor would be very pleased to hear that from you.”
Jiho dragged Mimi over the next day, forcing her to sit down at the table that Seunghee was at, pulling up a chair from another table and sitting herself down.
“So what do we need to know?”
“I’m supposed to be cleaning out the coffee carafes right now.” Jiho glared at Mimi, who shut her mouth immediately, nodding. “It can wait.”
“This weekend, Bae Yoobin comes in and viscerally destroys this cafe and everything we have worked for unless we can figure out some way to, somehow, please her.”
“Wait,” Jiho cuts Seunghee off. “This isn’t just on us, hell, it’s mostly not on us.” She goes to the back, emerging from the door a moment later, gripping Hyojung and Yewon by an arm and dragging them over. “None of you are failing us,” she says, grabbing two more chairs and forcing them to sit down.
“I have eclairs in the oven right now,” Hyojung says.
“In less than a week we might need to burn this whole building down, so early start, I guess.”
“This is Seunghee,” Mimi introduces Yewon and Hyojung to the situation. “She works with the food critic who comes in this weekend.”
“Honestly I don’t think you guys need to do anything,” Seunghee said awkwardly. “Your coffee is good, your pastries are good, I think you’ll be fine.”
Jiho leaned back in her chair. “That’s useless advice, how are we supposed to deal with that.”
“She liked the scones we had last time! I don’t know, I like the stuff you guys make here. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Jiho crossed her arms, fuming in her seat silently. “I’m really sorry,” Seunghee said to Hyojung and Yewon.
“I just want to be clear that when I eventually go to therapy, this is the reason why,” Yewon said to Jiho, standing up. “It was lovely to meet you,” she said to Seunghee, before returning to the kitchen.
“That felt so insincere,” Seunghee mumbled.
“She’s been a bit upset all day because Jiho’s been calling her five for the past month or so,” Hyojung said, giving Seunghee a reassuring smile. “They’re only two years apart but Jiho keeps refuting Yewon’s claim that she’s seven in response.”
“Shouldn’t you tell Jiho to stop?”
“Yeah, no I realized as I was saying it.”
Despite Seunghee’s reassurance, Mimi was a bit beyond just a little nervous. This was the break that they needed, something that could actually get them a significant amount of business to stay open. And she’d actually done a bit of research on Binnie as a food critic. Needless to say, she wasn’t sure a small locally run cafe was going to get a better review than the renowned restaurant in town that she had slammed.
They’d ordered a wide breadth of stuff, and Hyojung stood at the counter next to Mimi, the both of them nervously chewing on their fingernails. Actually Mimi was pretty sure at this point she was just chewing her fingers off.
“Do you think we look weird to her right now?” Hyojung asks.
“Probably, but I’m sure she’s used to it,” Mimi replies. She wants to focus on anything else, but her rapt attention is on the table, especially given the looming mass of dark energy rapidly approaching.
“What’s up Binnie my man, the Binn-ster,” Jiho said, approaching the table. Mimi let out a long, slow breath of air, and Hyojung pat her shoulder. “How’s the food?”
“Kind of weird for you to be talking to customers while they’re trying to enjoy their food in peace,” Binnie replied, glaring.
“Ayy, bad news, my shift ended, so I guess that means that I get to hang out here,” Jiho said, plopping down in the fourth chair at their table.
“I guess that means I don’t have to treat you kindly like I try to do with most restaurant employees,” Binnie retorted.
“No, instead you have to treat me with the love and affection of someone you can tell is going to become one of your most valued and trusted friends.” Binnie glared at Jiho, but her lack of a retort meant something, or at least something to Jiho, and something to Mimi. The poor fool. What was she getting herself into?
“Jiho’s really great, she always talks to me when I’m here in the afternoon,” Seunghee says to the girl seated next to her, presumably Shiah. “Her and Mimi, one of the owners.”
“Jiho called me a witch the last time I was in here.”
Jiho shrugged. “It’s the Jim Kiho charm, you know?”
“I literally can’t tell if she’s enjoying herself,” Hyojung whispered to Mimi. “Her face kind of darkened but that might have just been a result of, well.”
“I can’t tell either. I’m trying to listen but nothing is giving them away.”
“I just want you both to know,” Yewon said from behind them, placing a hand on each of their shoulders. “That you both look really dumb to every other person in this cafe right now. Do something. Stop being creepy.”
It was 2AM when Seunghee called, waking Mimi up from her sleep with a groan. She had to be up in less than a few hours to set up the shop and double check everything. It was the first time she’d let Jiho close by herself, and as much as Mimi loved the girl, she was a bit skeptical (very skeptical).
“Am I bothering you?” Seunghee asked as soon as Mimi picked up.
“It’s late,” Mimi said, sitting up. Her voice was hoarse. She wanted water. “What’s up?”
“Sorry, I’ve been up working on a program I was supposed to present tomorrow. My supervisor just called to say it was cut.”
“Oh shit, I’m sorry, that really sucks.”
“It happens. The city’s been cutting our budget more and more recently, and we have to focus more on getting donations from businesses, who restrict the kind of programs we can do.”
“McDonalds doesn’t want you to do a public seminar on the importance of locally sourced, organic food?” Mimi slipped out of bed, putting on a pair of slippers and moving quietly to the kitchen for some water.
“More or less.”
“Wow.” Mimi laughed. “We have to keep all our programs for kids, but we have less money to pay stipends to the people who oversee them or teach or anything, and less people want to do it for free nowadays.”
“You sound like Binnie and Shiah during college.”
“They’re in good company.”
“Any time we’d spend money, they’d remark about the shackles of capitalism or the, uh, I don’t even know. They had some good ones, though.”
“Hyojung and I say ‘capitalism’ after we place orders of flour or something. We nod sagely, like old monks who have made peace with their universal insignificance.”
“I won’t make my peace with my insignificance until the aliens invade.”
“That could be any day now!” Mimi heard Seunghee laugh through the phone.
“I’m going to pitch a series of seminars on the likelihood of aliens existing in the universe.”
“I tell you, once we make enough money, we will one hundred percent be sponsoring that series. Even if the town says no, we’ll let you host it at the coffeeshops at nights.”
“Until the feds bust us for knowing too much.”
“It’s how I always expected to go,” Mimi said, grinning. The line went silent. Seunghee was still there, Mimi could hear the little bits of static that come from the phone line being on.
“I should let you get back to sleep,” Seunghee said finally. “What time are you going in tomorrow? Today, I guess.”
“I was planning to wake up around four or so.”
Seunghee made a muffled groaning noise. “Why did you pick up? You should have just ignored me!”
“Nah, this is better. Plus it’s just me being paranoid and wanting to make sure Jiho did everything correctly.”
“You know, Binnie says Jiho’s awful dependable.”
“Binnie said that?”
“The two of them are really close or something.”
“Wow, look at Jiho, branching out and making good friends and stuff,” Mimi said moving to the living room with her glass of water.
“Listen, you really should get some sleep before work, I’m sorry for calling.”
“Don’t worry about it, I went to bed at like nine anyway,” Mimi said, flopping down on the couch. “I am going to need you to give me an outline of your ‘Aliens Are Definitely Real’ series. I want to make sure that we’re only supporting the highest quality programming at our fine establishment.”
Mimi was late, which wasn’t her fault but Jiho’s, because Jiho’s joke this week was pretending that she thought that coffee was supposed to be brewed in whole bean form. Thankfully they leave the doors to these things open, so Mimi was able to sneak into the back and tap Seunghee’s shoulder to pull her out.
“What are you doing here?” Seunghee asked.
“When we were talking yesterday you mentioned this. It’s a college, loan, pricing and money type thing isn’t it?”
“Are you going to college again anytime soon?”
“You said that the parents sitting here and listening to someone drone on about tax credits and stuff can be really annoying for them, so I brought coffee and pastries.”
“Yeah, cause you said you guys can’t always afford it. It’s mostly the leftovers from today, but I also had Hyojung bake some stuff fresh. You could offer it during your break.”
“That’s,” Seunghee stopped. “Thank you so much.”
“I would have come earlier or let you know, but Jiho was doing her new thing this week. She gets really bad if you don’t play along.”
“The whole bean thing?”
“You know about it?”
“Apparently her and Binnie have been talking. Binnie brought it up.”
“Poor Jiho,” Seunghee replied. “Binnie’s turned her onto artisanal chocolates.”
“Poor Jiho,” Mimi echoed.
“Um, so the coffee,” Seunghee said. “Thank you.”
“I’ll go let the other organizer know and then we can set it up out here,” Seunghee said. Mimi grinned, nodded, and watched Seunghee disappear back into the gymnasium turned auditorium for just a moment.
Seunghee gave her a thumbs up upon returning, and directed Mimi to somewhere they could get tables to put everything on first.
Three in the afternoon was supposed to be dead time. Usually one or two people would be in there, and Seunghee was starting to become such a permanent fixture in their afternoons that she would venture into the back to chat with Hyojung and Yewon, rather than sitting at a table. Their three pm was busy this time, and they all clearly weren’t really sure what to do with it. Yewon had the day off, but came barreling around closing time, tightly gripping a newspaper in her hand.
“The review came out!” She shouted, and everyone halted cleaning.
“Hyojung,” Jiho said seriously. “I have loved you always. You have been the greatest friend and a mother figure to me. That’s why I’m about to ask you to murder me right now.”
“Shut up I’m going to read it out loud,” Yewon said, glaring, and for once Jiho actually did shut up. “The Lone Bean Cafe doesn’t appear to be a new facet to the neighborhood from the outside. But stepping inside, owners Choi Hyojung and Kim Mihyun-”
“That’s us,” Hyojung said to Mimi. Mimi nodded numbly.
“Okay. Owners Choi Hyojung and Kim Mihyun have taken clearly meditated steps to ensure this cafe doesn’t fade into the background with the many other coffeeshops in the area. The decor, lighting, and ambiance provide a friendly and warm backdrop that only serves to further accentuate the brilliant food and drinks they serve.”
“You’re welcome!” Jiho shouts.
“Brilliant food and drink?” Hyojung shouts in reply.
“A careful examination of the cafe’s practices shows they’re not just in the business of making money: they often provide food and drink for local events put on by the city.”
“Yes! That’s our Mimi being a good citizen who gives back!” Jiho again.
“Pastry Chef Choi Hyojung was trained by a local culinary arts school nearby, and her attention to local yet sophisticated flavors is apparent. The coffee pairs incredibly well with the food, and the baristas clearly have a taste for fine, smooth coffee.”
“We’re good baristas,” Jiho says. Mimi nearly crumples to the ground at this point.
“We were so busy because of the review today,” She mumbles. Hyojung rubs her back reassuringly. “We might actually get good business.”
“We did it. Our dream,” Hyojung says.
“It says here that we should absolutely be on everyone’s list of places to come in the upcoming year!” Yewon read from the newspaper. Hyojung was beaming.
“I didn’t know you could read.” Jiho sneered. “Wait, why are you rolling up that newspaper. Yewon, no! I don’t deserve this! After everything I’ve done for you! You don’t even know how to take the bus without me!”
Seunghee is beaming the next time she enters the café.
“She doesn’t let us read any of her reviews in advance. She says it’s an art form, but of course you guys are brilliant. I shouldn’t have expected anything less.”
“You put in a good word about my good services to the city.”
“No!” Seunghee’s eyebrows shot up. “I thought she asked you guys about it!”
“It must have been Jiho, because she didn’t ask me about it at all.”
“Either way, you guys killed it,” Seunghee said with a grin. “I expected no less from you.”
Mimi grinned back, pulling one of the to go coffee cups out of the rack. “Do you want the usual?” Seunghee’s face went blank. “You get the same thing in the mornings. You even call it the mornings.”
“Morning,” Seunghee mumbled, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “It’s 8AM?”
“Yeah, and there’s,” Mimi pointed to behind Seunghee, where a line of folks in business suits stood impatiently. “That.”
“I wasn’t thinking and I kind of binge watched a show last night. I had no idea what time it was,” Seunghee said with a laugh. “I just figured you guys would be open so I came down to see you. I’ll sit down until this rush is over. I have today off.”
“That explains the pajama pants.”
Seunghee looked down and laughed again. “I’ll explain my impeccable fashion sense to you later.”
“Go and tell Hyojung how proud of her you are right now.”
Seunghee gasped. “Are you giving me permission to go into the back where your illicit drug trades go down?”
Mimi reached across the counter, pushing Seunghee in the direction of the door to the kitchen. “Quickly, before I change my mind and hate you forever.”
“You would never!” And Mimi laughed, because it was true. And they both knew it.
Seunghee invited to Mimi to her apartment at one point. It was late at night by the time Mimi was able to get there, and she almost wanted to turn home and say something came up and she couldn’t make it. Seunghee wasn’t one for brief conversations really, and she didn’t want to keep her up too late. But Seunghee had also seemed excited to see her. They’d both been overwhelmingly busy; Seunghee had picked up some of the jobs that the community center couldn’t afford to pay for, and Mimi with some of the newfound popularity that the cafe had gotten in the wake of Binnie’s review.
Seunghee had immediately dragged her to the roof of her apartment building, raising her arms wide as they stood on the top of the skyscraper, grinning.
“Here it is!”
“The skyline, the cityscape, the feeling of standing on top of a concrete giant!” Seunghee said, turning and facing the direction of the moon. “City in every direction!”
Mimi followed suit, turning and facing the same way as Seunghee, the both of them walking closer to the edge of the roof to get a better view.
“I always wanted to live in a building where I could go up to the roof and look at the city around me, like in a tv show or movie. A quiet escape. My dream.” Mimi nodded, even though Seunghee wasn’t looking. “We’re trying to get the complex to allow us to turn the roof into a garden as well. We’re just starting small, a community run thing that the complex doesn’t have to pay for or anything, but we want to start growing our own vegetables and stuff someday.”
“Is that also part of your dream?” Mimi asked.
“Probably.” Mimi hummed, looking out at the city. “What’s your dream?”
“I don’t have one,” Mimi said, not missing a beat. “I don’t think I ever have.”
Seunghee frowned and scrunched up her nose, clearly unsatisfied. Mimi just shrugged.
“I used to always be super jealous of my friends, but I couldn’t find myself caring about stuff as much as they did, if at all, really. My mom would yell at me sometimes for just drifting.”
“Well, do you feel empty?”
“Like, do you feel like you need to be doing something else. Like there’s a big old hole in your heart and soul that could be fulfilled by something , anything.”
“Well, then haven’t you achieved your dreams?”
Mimi laughed. “I don’t know if it works like that.”
“Maybe you’re one of those losers whose only dream is to make other people happy or something.” Mimi wrinkled her nose. “I mean, what do you want to do?”
Mimi watched the skyline, the stars, the lights from the cars on the streets below them. This was a far cry from home, where the highest you could get was the mountains, and the only thing you could see below them were the trees and bushes, rustling leaves that could be a small animal, or just some wind. Both landscapes somehow still full of life, full of small reminders that there is existence in movement and stillness, in light and dark, in natural and technological.
“I just want to be there, I think. The feeling that I want to be there.”
“Well, you’re here.”
Seunghee turned to Mimi, giving her a smile. “Everyone is somewhere. But you’re here. That’s a bit different.”
“Every somewhere is also a here.”
Seunghee tilted her head. “I didn’t know you majored in philosophy.”
“Oh really? I swear you just turned into like Sophocles there for a second. I mean, you had like the beard and everything. You even turned like Roman for a second.”
Mimi made a face. “Wasn’t he Greek?”
“I have no idea, I have better things to do than to care about old smelly guys.”
“Then why did you bring it up? Now I’m curious!”
“Do you want to check?”
Mimi shook her head. “You should visit my home sometime.” Seunghee accepted the change of topic without a word. “I used to go climb the mountains all the time. I think you’d really like the scenery. It’s exactly the same.”
“I don’t think it would be.”
“Yeah, but somehow it is.”
“Would we see any bears or deer?”
“Deer maybe, bears maybe not.”
“Then what’s the point?”
“There’s always a chance!”
Seunghee grinned at Mimi again. “Great, next time I have time off you have to take me hiking.”
Binnie and Seunghee showed up one night, right before they were going to close. The two had been at some Italian restaurant, and Binnie showed up looking beyond pissed off.
“Very bad,” Seunghee whispered to Mimi, the two of them watching from the counter as Jiho riled up an already glowering Binnie.
“For a review?”
Seunghee nodded. “Shiah would have come, but she said something about a date with destiny and disappeared into a crowd.”
“I think she might be a hitman,” Mimi replied.
“That would explain the collection of throwing knives.”
“ What? ”
“Oh wow I didn’t think you’d fall for that.” Mimi blinked. Oh, duh, of course.
“Take a seat, I’ll tell Hyojung to make you guys some sandwiches.”
“Ugh, I love you.”
Hyojung was wiping off counters in the back, giving Mimi a confused look when she walked in. It was just nine, and there was no ways Mimi was coming in to tell her she’d finished her cleaning.
“Seunghee and Binnie came in and I promised them food,” Mimi said, giving her a sheepish smile. “I’ll help you out.”
After they’d brought Seunghee and Binnie out their food, Hyojung and Mimi started cleaning. Hyojung finished first, since she could start before they actually closed the place down, not to mention Mimi was often dragged into the conversation Jiho, Binnie, and Seunghee were having.
“Jiho always seems like she’s bugging Binnie, but she also calms her down really fast,” Hyojung said, watching the three at the table.
“How does this coffee beverage taste, mon cheri,” Jiho said, standing with her arm in front of her stomach like a fancy waiter. She had a rag draped across it, to complete the look, although the rag was certainly off color from cleaning up coffee spills.
“Mm, exquisite,” Binnie said, playing into the bit as best she could. “It’s got a very earthy flavor, and, am I detecting hints that it was made by a loser?”
Jiho clutched her hand over her heart, giving an exaggerated gasp. “Your ability to taste the subtle flavors is divine !”
“You know,” Mimi said to Hyojung. “When you first suggested opening a cafe I was a bit skeptical.”
Hyojung furrowed her eyebrows, frowning. A rare expression. “This was your idea.”
“When I was in my final year, you talked about opening a cafe together. It was unprompted and I thought it was so weird at first. I wanted to work as a pastry chef in a French restaurant.”
“I thought-” Mimi cut herself off. “Huh.”
“But the more you talked about it, the more fun it seemed, and pretty soon I was one hundred percent on board,” Hyojung said, grinning. “I’m glad we did this.”
Mimi watched Jiho, still faking her heart troubles, falling to the ground as Binnie and Seunghee laugh behind her.