Ducks don’t drink coffee. Or at least I’ve never heard of a duck drinking coffee, but few people know what actually goes on between those in white lab coats and animals behind closed laboratory doors. Charles Potashner doesn’t drink coffee either, but not by choice. When Living in London he was able to simply walk five minutes, in any direction, and find a lovely coffee shop or at least a Turkish cafe with microscopic yet potent espressos. But in Simone, there was no coffee. On one hand, though he loved the taste, Charles always had a few issues with coffee. He really couldn’t have it after about two in the afternoon if he was hoping to catch any sleep later that night. Perhaps he was more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than other humans. Charles loved dreaming, so late afternoon coffee was an enemy of his, but earlier in the day it was heavenly. He adored the taste and the effects. Just smelling a steaming mug of coffee excited him—he could imagine the taste that would follow and the black liquid feeling as if it had leapt into his mouth, danced across his tongue, swam down his throat, and then somehow shot straight into his veins just to be pumped and circulated relentlessly around his body over and over. The joy! The energy! The clenching of his jaw!
As I mentioned before, most of the ducks would take off into the sky to come and go from Simone as they pleased, but Charles had yet to find a way to leave. He hadn’t really searched for the path out of Simone and I’m not sure if he ever will. His last day in London may have been the last he would ever have in The Previous World. Not wanting to make much of a fuss, he didn’t really tell anyone he was leaving. He had played music in a shoegaze influenced punk band, but earlier that year his band had broken up and his relationship had reached a chaotic end. There wasn’t really much of a reason for him to stay there anymore. His commitments were all naturally finishing in a surprisingly synchronous way, and it seemed as clear of a sign as any that his time in London was supposed to be coming to a close. How Charles left the UK and ended up in Simone is actually quite a startling and possibly even significant story, but I think we’d better save that for a time when we’re better acquainted with each other.
When a light, reflective rain stopped, Charles decided it was time to wash his clothes. He collected buckets of water from the pond and mixed in a tiny bit of Tide that one of the ducks had brought back for him as a gift after visiting the east coast of America. He didn’t have many clothes and nearly everything he wore was black, mostly because it made getting dressed simpler; everything matched with everything else. On warm days he sometimes didn’t wear anything at all since there were no other humans around to see him and the ducks would be hypocrites if they judged him for his nakedness. But now that the independent contractors had become a permanent fixture in Simone, he decided it was best if he donned clothes whenever he wasn’t swimming.
After swirling the clothes around in the soapy water, Charles rinsed them and hung them carefully across a branch of the oak tree to dry. Before the oak tree had appeared, he would have carefully spread them out across the grassy field next to the pond, but the tree made drying his clothes much more convenient. He was thankful for the oak tree and the tree was glad to be helpful. It’s easier to sleep at night when you have a sense of purpose and, though the tree knew it was destined for a much more significant future, it was happy to be of use in the meantime.