It Started with a Coffee

By Julia Pryor

I didn’t know your name, but I didn’t need to.
With brunette, shoulder-length hair parted to the left and chestnut colored eyes, you stood behind the counter with a crooked smile.
“What can I get for you?”
You looked young, could only be a few years older than I, which surprised me considering most of the baristas looked to be in their 20s or 30s.
I told you my order and handed you a twenty dollar bill.
“There ya go.” You placed the change into my hand before I dropped it, the change falling onto the counter with a series of ear-piercing clanks. We both went to grab the change causing our hands to awkwardly collide and fumble together. I pulled my hand back at the action and waited for yours to move too before I grabbed the change myself—two quarters, one dime, and two nickels. I dropped the change into the tip jar, which prompted a smile and a “thank you” to pass through your lips.
I waited patiently by the counter as you attempted to blend my drink, stopping halfway to look to me and say, “Sorry for taking a million years to make your coffee. I think the blender is broken.”
I laughed, “It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
I watched as you rushed around behind the counter and chuckled at the blush of your cheeks after you tripped. It was obvious you were still getting the hang of this, and I was glad I had gotten the chance to witness it all unfold. Watching you was like watching a baby learn how to walk for the first time; failing most times, but still getting back up and trying again.
After minutes of blending the coffee, accompanied by sighs full of frustration, you poured the mixture into a plastic cup and piled whipped cream on top. Your eyes flickered to the door as an elderly man slowly walked through, depending on his walking stick to stay balanced.
You looked to me one last time and smiled before walking to the cash register to greet the man and take his order. I smiled back and walked to a different counter a few steps away from where the straws and napkins were. I felt a sense of sadness for having to leave you behind as I turned towards the exit. Taking a sip of my coffee and being satisfied by the taste, I yelled, “thank you” before walking through the door. I heard a faint “you’re welcome” on my way out and knew it was you. I smiled.

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