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A Spiritual Question

Mario Moussa

He stands in line at the bank, feeling uncomfortable. He started working less when he turned sixty-six a few months ago and hasn’t gotten used to doing errands on a weekday. In front of him is a woman who looks like she’s in her early twenties. Ears pierced up the lobes, arms tattooed. She holds a stack of cash in one hand and in the other her phone. It dings, then again, then several times more.

“Popular,” he says over her shoulder.

She swings around to face him. “It’s just one after another,” she says. “I’m a priest.”

He wonders why a priest would need to deposit a fistful of money in the middle of the day. And all those texts—could her congregants have such urgent needs?

The messages keep coming. She looks at the screen and shrugs.

“What kind of priest?” he says.

She laughs. “I’m a barista.”

“Oh, I see,” he says. He’s about to add a thought, then stops. He doesn’t want to become one of those elderly folks who strikes up random conversations in public places. But maybe he already has. Best to leave it here, he tells himself. He smiles at the barista.

They remain facing each other for a moment before she turns back and steps forward. 

Later, as he leaves the bank, he’s still thinking about a question. For young people today, is specialty coffee the new religion? 

Mario Moussa is a writer living in Philadelphia. His stories have appeared in Write City, Flash Fiction Magazine, Litbreak, and elsewhere.