Golly Gosh Cafe

tea shop and sanctuary


A person who has no-one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost.  Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love.  Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body.  ~ Cormac McCarthy, The Road

She had to go back. To decide.

The rattle and hum of the city took her by surprise and she couldn’t help but compare its pace to the gentle steady rhythm of the small town she’d lived in the last two years. She was struck by how bright everything was; shiny and superficial, busy and impersonal, focused and without interaction. Souless. She looked around and wondered why she’d found this all so exciting, so vibrant and so full of opportunity. But she was younger then, less cynical. Now it irritated and set her teeth on edge, making her want to scream out for the quiet. Just for a minute she wished it would all stop.

Sally didn’t like indecision and the untidiness going on in her head. She preferred certainty and order but over the last two days her thoughts seemed chaotic and devoid of any real formation or structure; hard to separate. Conflicting options buzzing and blazing loudly; a blend of tinnitus and fast cars, dazzling zig zag lines and bright headlights making her feel out of control.

She fought back the memories of a past life: the pressure; the image and perfection; the hours of endless meetings and networking; the competition and unrealistic deadlines; the fighting to be heard and never feeling good enough; the big money that made her feel nauseous; the hate and deceit and false relationships; the insomnia and pretence and hiding the exhaustion; no time for food or a social life; stress and profound loneliness.

Her frown deepened and she knew her mood was different here.

Emptiness and noise. Ghosts and shadows. Almost broken. But not quite. She remembered.

One moment had made her realise life was about choices and in that moment her present became her past. A leap of faith some people call it. An awakening.  In the beginning she had no-one. Until, out of the blue, Kate arrived. Thank God for Kate and for the safety and sanctuary she eventually found in Golly Gosh and its people.  But Golly Gosh seemed a long way off now, almost surreal.

Time was running out and a decision had to be made by the end of the week. To carry on or move on.

What’s it to be Sal?

She felt burdened by the weight of her decision because she knew life wouldn’t be the same.  This was no longer transitional and self-serving, something for her to do, a project to focus on to get her back on her feet.  It wasn’t just about her.  Her decision involved lots of people; all with gifts and talents, idiosyncrasies and foibles, bad days and good, grumpiness and gratefulness.

Tears slowly tickled down her cheeks and she felt her heart would burst with emotion; letting go and possibilities and risk.  She smiled remembering the small place by the sea and the conversations; privileged to be trusted with innermost secrets, heartache and joy.  She realised that in serving she had found her special place.  Love and reciprocity.

She reached for a tissue, blew her nose and wiped her eyes.

I need to be home.

Vulnerable and out of her depth she knew she had work to do.



If people knew the story of their lives how many would then elect to live them? People speak about what is in store. But there is nothing in store. The day is made of what has come before. The world itself must be surprised at the shape of that which appears. Perhaps even God.~Cormac McCarthy,  The Crossing

Sally sat down on the hand-made bench; a special gift from her nearest neighbour on opening day.  She’d grown quite fond of the neighbour and the bench and did a lot of thinking sitting here.  The neighbour had carefully placed the bench in Golly Gosh’s small garden, maximising the view.  There was something about it that reassured her.  It seemed like a wise old bench and she thought of the carpenter, the craftsmanship, hard work, dedication and love, that had gone into producing it and wondered why and who’d sat on it before her.

A time to ponder.

Sally  looked out across the sea and fixed her gaze on the horizon.  Staring.  It was calm today. She liked the stillness of it and shut her eyes for a moment listening for sounds. There was a dull drone of town activity in the distance. It was the end of market day and she imagined people browsing stalls looking for a bargain and, in her imagination, she selected at random some of her precious Golly Gosh regulars having fun.   And children and grandparents eating candy floss, healthy diet plans giving way to freshly made sugar doughnuts, dogs chasing flying insects and pulling on leads, prams and summer sandals, umbrellas in bags just in cases.

Then, intervals of silence. Almost.  She could hear the waves gently lapping and appreciated the warmth of the sun on her face and a saltiness in the air. There was the hum of bees attracted by the fragrance of flowers in the window box and she pictured them now and gave thanks for this spot; perfect for her adventure into teashop ownership.

This, this venture, was only supposed to be for a short time but it had turned into something other than simply providing tea and cakes for people even if they were Alice’s and unimaginably wonderful. It had become a shelter, a place of rest, a meeting place, a quiet and rowdy place, a hiding place, a nurturing place, a place of creativity and laughter, of strength and wisdom. A safe place; enigmatic and graceful.

She realised the role she played in providing a place for people to ‘be’ and felt hugely humbled but herein lay a responsibility that she wasn’t sure she could honour.

Her breathing had finally, slowly, fallen into a rhythm and she felt relaxed; her finely tuned senses enjoying the stimulus around her.

Sally opened her eyes and noticed someone running on the beach with a dog in tow and recognised the stranger as the man who helped Noah with his kite.  She made a mental note must ask about him.

In the meantime, the closed sign awaited, and she had a decision to make.