Saturday, December 1, 2007


The barista tells me about how she doesn't believe in love, but I'm not listening. Instead, the metallic clank, clank, clanking of a spoon making the rounds of a cheap café coffee cup fills my ears and pilfers my thoughts. My caffeine-charged leg bounces to a relentless, phantom bass line. My nerves jangle.

Fingers tap furiously at the keys of my laptop, and the barista edges in a little closer across the table, still talk, talk, talking. Something about love. The end of love. Her obsession with it. Fingers tap, and eyes vibrate, taking in the string of words before me. These are my thoughts. Not love, but something else. An obsession, surely, but one different from that of the barista's. Not deeper, not shallower, just altogether—

“What?” I ask.

The barista stops dead in mid sentence, her eyes wide, pupils dilated, huge, like two cups of strong, black coffee.

“Pardon me?” she asks in return, a lock of chocolate hair slipping carelessly from behind a petite ear.

“You were saying something,” I reply. “I'm sorry, but I wasn't quite listening.”

Her candy cane lips effortlessly form a smile, and she tells me that's okay. “I know you're usually quite a good listener,” she says, obviously oblivious. “You must be working on something awfully important....”

Now it's my turn to smile, but I can't quite keep the pity out of it, I'm sure. Eyes flit to cup, and I notice I'm nearing the bottom. Hand trembling, vibrating, really, I clutch desperately at the cup, raising it to my lips and drain the last of the acrid black liquid. I slide the cup across the table toward the barista.

“Would you be a dear, and grab me another?”

“Of course!” she bleats, snatching it up and turning on her heel.

“Oh, and one more thing,” I say, meeting her dark eyes as she turns back to me. “Make it something really complicated. Have fun. Be adventurous.”

Take your bloody time, I think, and resume the tap, tap, tapping of keys. My leg continues its bounce. My nerves jangle still. I know it won't be long before she's back – and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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