The girl in the coffee shopBy Wade Kwon
The coffee shop is deserted, save for me and the girl behind the counter.
I donâ€™t even like coffee. But I kinda like the girl.
Sheâ€™s my coffee shop crush.
I sit at the counter with my notebook and pen. The TV is tuned to 24-hour news with the volume down.
I havenâ€™t seen her in before, but I know itâ€™s Nat, because the owner said sheâ€™d be taking over the afternoon shift.
â€œWhat can I get you?â€
â€œGive me a minute.â€
Coffee shop menus confound me. Not liking coffee, I struggle with a simple choice. Tea? Not a big fan. Iced coffee? Maybe.
I settle on some kind of caramel mocha concoction as I flip open my notebook. Twenty-five minutes to kill until my next appointment.
I study her as she prepares the drink. Curly strawberry blond hair, skinny jeans, cute smile.
â€œHere you go.â€
â€œCan I get you anything else?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m fine.â€
Nat goes back to the far end and refills the napkin holders. I try and think of something funny to write.
The mocha is scalding hot, only good for a tiny sip as I let it cool. The bell on the door jingles as a woman in a business suit walks in, still chatting on her cell. She closes the flip phone and orders a tall coffee to go.
The customer searches her purse for some money. Nat rings up the order, coffee all set.
In a minute, itâ€™s over. And weâ€™re alone again in the shop.
I stare back down at the blank page, clicking my pen for inspiration.
â€œWhat are you writing?â€
â€œOh, just some notes.â€
Nat walks back to the far end and picks up her book. Itâ€™s some best-seller, from what I can tell, though I canâ€™t make out the title. She leans back against the counter, lost in her reading.
She has a funny little nose. Kinda like out of a cartoon, or an abstract painting. Nothing wrong with it, just funny. And endearing.
I would work my game at this point, but I have no game today. The planets havenâ€™t aligned, my hairâ€™s a mess, and I have to leave in 15 minutes.
I drink some more coffee, fueling me for the long afternoon ahead. The page remains blank, except for the impatient scribbles of someone distracted from writing.
Would she like to have dinner some time? Or drinks? Anything but coffee. Maybe we could see that film together.
Itâ€™s not happening today. My coffee shop crush remains that perfect girl from afar. And also, my latest regret on a too-tall stack.
I close the notebook and study her again. She wonâ€™t notice, still reading contentedly in the quiet of the early afternoon.
I still have a few sips left, but I donâ€™t want the rest. I have time left, but I need to go. Defeated, I remove myself from the counter.
â€œThanks. Come back again.â€
â€œOh, um, thanks. You, too.â€ (You, too?)
The door jingles, and we are both alone.