What We Walked Into

By Miranda Romano -2014

The streets outside were quiet. The farmer’s market we had expected to find was actually an empty lot, so we searched the buildings for somewhere open; some sign of life. As I stepped through the door of Sam’s Café, a dull little bell ringing behind me, I caught a glimpse of what Alice must have felt when she fell down the rabbit hole. My group and I had stumbled upon a niche in the world that was hardly ever disturbed, and we were clearly outsiders. I walked in last, behind the others, so I was protected a bit from the staring and confused eyes by the bodies of my group members. Nevertheless, I felt incredibly exposed in the middle of that tiny café. Half the people in there were wearing Sam’s Café shirts and the others clearly belonged there as much as those employees. Almost all of the red, plastic booths were empty; only two were occupied, one by a family with a small toddler and a dad with an impressive beard. Unsure of what to do, we quickly sat down at the long bar that ran the length of the room. It looked like it had been running that length since the 50s. We found out later that it actually had been. We took our pick from a menu of simple sandwiches and watched the employees construct them behind the counter. Movement in the window caught my eye and I suddenly noticed a mechanical butterfly revolving around a potted plant. A strange humming from the ceiling lights gave the butterfly an eerie feel. Its little paper wings rustled frantically as it continued its ceaseless revolution. We ate our sandwiches quietly, feigning deep interest in our food. In actuality, we were listening to the comfortable conversations between the employees and the locals at the counter and an elderly man in the back complaining about the loss of his sparkly comforter. We spent a few minutes in conversation with the owner, whom the old man in the back called Pork Chop, before heading back out into the quiet street. All the life in Siler City was held inside that little café and we couldn’t help but feel in awe over the difference between that place and our lives outside the rabbit hole.SamsCafe