Every week, the same guy would come in for coffee. It was like clockwork. Yet somehow, I had never actually gotten to speak to him. Yet, I felt like I knew him.
It felt like everyone knew who he was. A couple million followers on a social media platform isn’t exactly all that unknown. But I still... felt it. As if I knew bits and pieces about his personality through every post he made, and each post made me want to know him more.
I tried never to focus on the negative. I knew I was just a random barista, nothing special. He was... well... him. I managed to convince myself that I would just have to accept I would always be at a lower level than him. A fan.
But one day, I had the late shift. And right on the dot, he arrives. If this was seventeen year old me, I would be having a meltdown like any other fan. But I wasn’t seventeen. Not anymore. I had gotten over that. Twenty one year old me was better than that.
I took his order, not even mentioning that I recognized him. Actually, I didn’t say much at all, which is a strange thing for me. As he handed me the money, our eyes met, and I think it was that moment that we had an entire silent conversation in a single blink.
It seemed to occur to him that I hadn’t asked for his name to put on the order, like I technically should have. He paused in the doorway, and looked back at me.
“You’re a person too, Theo. And I respect you as that, a person,” I said simply, calmly meeting his gaze.
He glanced down at the cup, seeing his name written on it. He seemed surprised.
“That’s... really.. special, thank you,” he smiled.
Each week, after that, Theo would show up at the exact time that I was on my shift, which was usually closing, and we would end up talking far after the shop had closed.
One of the days, I didn’t say anything as he walked in, unlike my usual greeting. He picked up on it immediately, asking,” Hey, are you alright? You don’t seem like yourself today.”
I nodded, handing him his order silently. My gaze remained on the floor, occasionally sneaking a look at his face, hoping the words I had written on the cup hadn’t somehow changed in the time between being written and handing the cup to him.
He seems ready to ask me what’s wrong again, but as he begins to speak, he suddenly goes quiet again. His eyes widen slightly.
“Ry...” I avert my gaze again, hiding my face slightly at his use of the nickname he had given me a couple weeks after we met.
“I...” he appeared to be struggling to find the words to explain his thoughts.
As if a switch had flipped, I went from silent to gushing,” I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have made it weird. I know I’m just a barista, and you probably... And we... And.. I just... I...”
He stops me mid sentence. His gaze cuts up to meet mine. I trail off, my face somehow blushing and paling at the same time.
“Ry...” he says again, drawing the name out slightly longer this time,” If there’s anyone on this planet that would have the same feelings you do, but about you, it’s me. You’re one of the few people that I’ve met that has actually treated me like a human being. You wanna talk about calling me amazing, hell, look at yourself. You’re the one that’s truly amazing.”
I think I blew a fuse. Did he just... Am I awake? Is this happening? Hell, did whatever he just said even make sense?
I guess he saw that I was having trouble figuring out what to say, because he continues before I can speak.
“Come on, let’s go home. I’d much rather enjoy my coffee with someone else than by myself, and it just so happens that you’re someone else.” He grins, lightly kissing my cheek, then gently tugging on my sleeve before walking over to the door.
I finally snap back into reality, and I giggle a bit before rolling my eyes and finishing up with closing the shop,” And you’re something else, Theo. Why exactly are you always buying coffee at like 10 PM?”
“That’s for me to know, and for you to find out, now come on.” He reaches out, and I take his hand.
It’s a perfect end to what just happened to be exactly four months of weekly coffee visits. And it all started with a single cup.
This was not the first time
She's seen him here before
Wants to learn his story
Is there a part for her?
A place in his pages
"The player" of the cast
That makes the difference
Steers their path together
Today might be the day
Thinks he saw her enter
The cafe is crowded
Feels like only two though
She catches him glancing
Pretending not to look
Is he just a shy one?
Or did she just daydream?
Her heart can barely take
the torturous seconds
Drumming out a rhythm
A pain so hard to bear
She puts on her best smile
He has to see this time
Why does he not act now?
Could she be mistaken?
No time she must leave now
The Fates may be unkind
What to do next? Damn heart
Must be another way
Will author a new act
Make the plot go her way
Or be lost in trying
Next time will be the All
The Coffee Shop
Amandla tried to avoid that coffee shop. The one with his chair and his typical order and his house just a few blocks down.
She had tried going in once. Not even to get coffee, just a simple latte. It hadn’t gone well.
She heard his voice intertwined with the jazz music that always played a little too quietly and his laugh in between the whipping cream cans and clanking glasses. She saw him, whispers of him on the table they had always sat at. Next to the window but away from the counter. Where he had drawn hearts on the foggy windows in winter and she would help him with math until the shop closed. Where she had once spilled her sugar packets and he had laughed so hard he had spit out his black coffee. Glimpses of him echoed next to the counter where they would wait for her pumpkin scone and the line up where he would give his order the wrong name for fun. Where they would pass by everytime before going to his house and smell the roasting coffee beans tempting them or feel the warmth from the shop during the freezing winters.
Amandla used to think of the coffee place as sort of magical. It was where she had fallen in love with him. Where anything seemed posible. And now, she let the magic it used to hold wither and fade. Instead of pausing in front of the door and wondering if maybe he was in there, she didn't. Although it killed a little part of her heart every time, she just avoided the shop.
She sat on the edge of her chair, waiting. She glanced out the window, then around the shop to make sure nobody knew how eager she really was.
Finally, she saw his car pull up and him hopping out of the driver's seat. She breathed a sigh of relief and sat back to make it look like she'd been doing something.
He walked towards the door with long strides. She couldn't help but notice how at ease he looked, as if he didn't have a care in the world.
She couldn't help but notice evrything about him, really. How his short brown hair was slightly mussed from practice, how he was wearing the high school football uniform that he wore oh-so-often. How his strong arms swung at his sides. Her lips tilted up at the sides.
He came in and started to scan the room. She waved and offered a small smile. He grinned widely and joined her, his eyes brightening.
"Hi," he said, taking a seat accross from her.
"Hey, how was practice?" She smiled back.
"It was good. We're getting better," he said and winked.
She flinched internally. He had said this every time now, and the team still lost almost every game.
"That's good to hear. So, I got us coffees," she said, pushing his toward him. He picked it up and downed it. He finished and slammed the cup on the table. She jolted in surprise, and then started to laugh. He laughed, too, and then spoke again,
"Oh, my goodness, have you heard the news about Profe Juane?"
"Omigosh, no! Wait, maybe. Zoe told me that..."
Their conversation was drowned out by the chatter, and then they were just a guy and a girl, having anormal conversation together in a coffee shop.
How It Begins
Jodie sat at her usual table, her coffee beside her as she worked. This paperwork had to be done by the time her lunch break was over or her boss wouldn't just threaten to fire her this time.
"Shit..." Jodie cursed, erasing the mistake she'd just made. At this rate, she'd be out of a job by tomorrow. Placing her head in her hands, her elbow knocked her coffee off the table and heading towards the floor. She turned sharply, swearing loudly, but another hand had already caught her coffee.
"Um, you dropped this?" A woman in leggings and a windbreaker held it out to her, smiling.
"O-oh, yes! Thanks so much!" Jodie smiled, taking the coffee from the woman and placing it down on the table gently. "Sorry about that.."
"Why are you apologizing? You didn't do anything wrong!" The woman said with a small smile.
"Oops, just a force of habit! Sor-" Jodie cut herself off, covering her mouth, blushing. "Almost did it again!"
"It's alright!" The woman laughed and held out her hand for Jodie to shake. "Hi, I'm Fiona,"
Jodie shook her hand with a grin.
"Nice to meet ya, I'm Jodie!" She gestured to the seat across from her. "Care to join me for coffee?"
"I thought you'd never ask," Fiona replied, sitting down across from Jodie, beaming.
Embraced by the familiar acidity of espresso
The kind that lingers in your sweaters
Reminds you of where you came from
Subtle, Indie, grooves
Set the tone
To this familiar place
Which has been a home
A home which has wiped my tears
and gifted me a place to escape, get away
Where the baristas who share their warmth
know my story and my name
As I sit in this booth
tapping in sync with the clinking of coffee pots
I close my eyes and silence invades
Until a mug is set before me
I tell Nicole she can keep the change
I sit by the window in my favorite coffee shop with my foot firmly on the wonky leg of the table so it doesn't wobble. As I lift the cup to my lips, I gaze across the street at Starbucks in disgust. "What suckers!" I sneer. "I can't believe they spend half of their paychecks on that tar every single day of the week."
"I much prefer my Carole Wang's Cafe. This place is the best to people watch."
My eyes follow a cute young professional woman in a short skirt and sharp heels strut in through the door across the street. As soon as she enters, a mother pushes her toddler in a stroller out the door with a grande in the cupholder. "You'd be better off spending that money on a winter jacket for your kid now that it's getting colder," you mutter to yourself.
Looking into the window at Starbucks, I see that little pudgy man in a trenchcoat and fedora stepping up to the register. "He always gets that same sandwich on the square bread. Let's see what he orders today." As the round man sits at the table by the garbage can and opens the predicted breakfast, I declare proudly, "Yup, I was right again!"
My leg is getting tired holding the table still, so I switch to my other foot. The line across the street is getting longer now that 9:00 is approaching. "Those people are like sheep, and the baristas are the sheep dogs." I chuckle to myself when I notice that one kid at the register looks kind of like a dog with his long nose and shoulder length hair. "I'm glad they don't call them baristas here. That's pompous."
Next, I see the troupe of retired regulars waltzing one by one in the door across the street. I peek l at my watch, "9:15 on the dot! Man, those old guys sure take a long time filing through the door." I think to myself how glad I am that I can sit by the entrance here and not get a chilly breeze.
I take the last swig of my java and look up to see my boss stepping out of a cab on the other side of the street and reaching for the handle of the door. "Time to go!" I say to Carol as I leave her a tip for that positively mediocre cup of coffee I just nursed. "See you tomorrow."
Coffee shop love
“Black coffee please.” I order my coffee before sitting down at my usual table. Today was the day that I was going to finish writing my book. Sure I said that everyday but I meant it today.
“Back at it again with the story.” Wade chuckles before setting down my coffee.
“Yep.” I smile blushing. He was the reason I came here to write. He has no idea he was my inspiration, that my main character was him and the girl he loves in my story was supposed to be me.
“I can’t wait to read it.” He says trying to give me motivation. He goes to walk away but I needed some information.
“Wade wait. I have a question it’s kind of stupid but I’m doing some research.” I lie. “What’s your dream date?” I ask before I lost the nerve.
“Easy.” He smiles his eyes lighting up. “I’ve always dreamed of inviting a girl over cooking for her and-. Nevermind it’s stupid.” He stops almost causing me to whine.
“I doubt that.” I try to encourage desperate to know what date Wyatt has planned for Taylor in my book.
“I’ve always wanted to just sit and play board games. We’d talk, laugh, share memories that are attached to different games, and create new ones. It’s stupid I know but a boy can dream.” He smiles before returning to work
That was it. That was all I needed to finish. The second I was done. I sent it to my editor who sent it to a publisher. It took 8 months for my book to be published and for that time I didn’t return to the coffee shop.
“Tracey your book is in stores.” My mom shouts running inside my home with three copies.
“Finally.” I sigh as I look at the story that’s played out so many times in my head The Games We Play.
“Mom I’ve got to go.” I grab a book and my coat before running to the one person I wanted to read my story.
I enter the coffee shop but my smile drops. He’s not here. He always works on Mondays.
“Sweetie, Wade no longer works here.” Mary an older lady that has worked here forever tell me.
“Oh okay.” I give her the small smile I can force on my face and sit at my usual table.
“God I’m an idiot why did I wait so long.” I mumble to myself setting my head in my hands.
“She had played this moment in her head over and over again.” I look up at the familiar voice. My eyes widen as he stand in front of me reading my book.
“Would this be the moment? And just like that he turns arounds and asks, Will you go out with me?” Wade stops reading and looks at me.
“You know what’s funny. I’ve been trying to figure out if you’d even want to go out with me?” He laughs. “Judging by Taylor’s reaction to Wyatt asking her out, I have a feeling I might get the same.” I stupidly nod my head.
“So what do you say Tracey will you go out with me?” And just as it says in my book my jaw drops and I stammer a reply.
“I I I um y yes. Yes I’d love to go out with you.” I happily reply standing up from my chair.
“Good because I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.” With that his lips met mine.
Not only did Wyatt and Taylor get their happily ever after but I did too.