Alone For Christmas(9)By: Ashley John
“Coffee will be okay for me,” said Chip, reaching into his inside pocket and pulling out a small, silver hipflask. “I always have this.”
After struggling with the key in his tricky lock, Noah fell into his messy flat, completely embarrassed that he was having company with it being in such a state. Having his best friend inside was one thing, but his boss was a whole different level.
“Sorry about the mess,” said Noah as he stacked up plates on the counter and dumped them in the sink. “It’s easy to be messy when you live alone.”
“Sasha was always a clean freak,” he said as he shrugged off his coat. “It’s nice seeing somewhere that’s lived in.”
Noah wasn’t sure if Chip was being sincere with his words, but he didn’t seem to be casting a judgemental eye around his flat, although his eyes did pause on the bleak Christmas tree balancing on a magazine on a small side table.
“I wasn’t really planning on doing Christmas this year,” said Noah apologetically. “I bought that thing last minute.”
Noah quickly collected up the clothes off the couch and stuffed them in the washing machine, despite most of them still being clean. When he started to collect the books, DVDs and empty mugs off his coffee table, he felt like he was putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.
“You don’t have to tidy up on my account,” said Chip as he tossed his jacket over the back of the couch. “It’s fine as it is.”
Noah quickly stuffed the books and DVDs back on the bookshelf and dropped the mugs in the sink along with the plates before calming down. He watched as Chip stood at the double glass doors, which led out onto his small balcony.
“You’ve got a good view of London up here,” Chip remarked as he unscrewed the cap of his hipflask.
Noah almost mentioned that Chip’s view was probably nicer, when he remembered the divorce and the likelihood that Chip had been sleeping on his couch in his office for weeks. He watched Chip’s reflection in the dark window, as he sipped from his hipflask to the backdrop of falling snow.
Deciding coffee was the best option for his head, Noah quickly washed two mugs and filled up the kettle. He scooped generous heaps of coffee and sugar into the mugs, before adding a splash of milk, and the boiled water. When he walked back through to the living room area of his tiny, open-plan flat, Chip was sitting comfortably in the corner of Noah’s couch. Noah set the two coffees on the small table, trying not to analyse how or why his impossibly handsome boss was sitting in his flat the day before Christmas Eve.
Before he sat down, he flicked on a small digital radio and set the Christmas pop songs to a level that suited as background noise for a conversation.
“This is good coffee,” said Chip as he sipped from the rim of the mug.
“It’s just instant,” replied Noah, almost defensively.
“It’s better than the stuff in the machines at the office.”
“Tell me about it!” Noah sighed. “That stuff tastes like piss water – I mean –”
Chip laughed and shook his head. He took another sip of the coffee, before leaning forward to put it on the table next to Noah’s. With one tug, he unclipped his bow tie, unbuttoned his collar and let the two hang loose at his neck.
“You don’t have to apologise for being honest,” said Chip as he stretched out his arm over the back of the couch. “I’m not your boss tonight.”
“Let’s call it the concussion,” said Chip with a flash of his pearly white grin.
Noah reached out to pick up his mug but his fingers completely missed the handle and he sent the mug with the coffee tumbling to the floor.
“Shit!” he cried, jumping up.
“Concussion?” chuckled Chip.
“I wish,” sighed Noah as he hurried through to the kitchen to grab a cloth. “My Granddad always used to say that I was born with two left hands and two left feet.”
Noah hurried back into the living room with a yellow cloth, where Chip was on the floor, picking up the broken fragments of Noah’s favourite two-coffee wide mug. Noah bent down to mop up the coffee from the laminated wood floor, but Chip took the cloth and mopped up the coffee puddle for him.