It started with a drink. A tall iced green tea latte. It tasted so odd yet exquisite, like a cool summer breeze. After that, it became a habit. Grabbing a green tea latte before class. It perked up her day when the barista would write her name on the cup beside the mermaid. Or was it a siren? When the barista handed over her alluring cup filled with heavenly liquid, it called to her, just like a siren's song.
The siren started to hum about a rewards card. Ruby had to get one. It made sense. With the number of lattes she bought, she could be getting free drinks.
But the daily trips started to double. Before class. After class. Then the siren started singing offers of new free drinks, like the Sparkling Berry Sangria or the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino with its sweet drizzling caramel and crunchy bits on top of fluffy whipped cream. Ruby knew she shouldn't succumb to temptation. But Ruby could not just turn away free drinks. They were free!
So she went again. And again. Now it was before, after, and in between classes. She loved exploring their new drinks. Tasting the different bursts of flavour that would dance on her tongue and delight her belly. She was amazed by how she could customize the drinks. It opened new realms of sensations. When she drank the siren's liquor, reality would fade. She forgot about assignments, bills, commuting, and the fact that the drink had cost her five dollars.
But reality was a cruel mistress that would not let her forget forever. The siren's song was only temporary. One day after class, Ruby got home and opened up her mail. Reality poured over her like a cold bucket of water. Her credit card bills were too much. At the rate she was going, she wouldn’t be able to pay for her commute or college tuition.
Ruby decided to cut ties with the siren. It was a struggle. The siren would not let go; she sent Ruby postcards, tempting her with discounts and free(!) drinks. Ruby resisted, but every time she walked to college, she heard the siren singing to her. Ruby would cover her ears and run.
Eventually, it became easier. The siren's song started to become a soft hum and started to drown among the sound of honking cars and chatter of pedestrians. Then one day, as Ruby walked briskly past the siren, she realized it had fallen silent. She saw the siren as usual, but heard nothing.
Ruby smiled and continued her brisk pace, glancing at her wrist. Goodness, only 5,000 steps today. Oh my. She better keep walking. Circle the college building a few times maybe. Another 5,000 steps till she got her Urban Boot badge!
Naila Saleem is an Early Childhood Educator with a passion for writing. She remembers falling in love with creative writing back in grade seven and has been hooked ever since. She’s always amazed by the emotions and images you can convey through words.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.