And The World Was New
David wouldn’t say he was a creature of habit.
Well, maybe a little.
But he definitely wouldn’t describe himself, as his exes often did, as “boring” or “stuck in his ways”.
Just because a man prefers his days to follow a certain pattern (up at 5:30, go for a run, shower, get coffee at his favorite shop, at work by 8, home by 6, dinner, Sportscenter, read for a bit, lights out by 11), doesn’t make him mundane.
But it does make him predictable.
Which is why, on any given Saturday around 9 a.m., David finds himself reading at the same table in the same corner of the same coffee shop he’s visited countless times before (or just about every morning). He sometimes considers finding a new shop to haunt, or even making a pot at home, but always ends right back up at Java the Hut.
Aside from the appeal the name lends the place, David likes it because it’s quiet. It’s never as crowded as Starbucks; there are no obnoxious teenagers Instagramming their lattes or chatty moms who fail to keep an eye on their wandering children. Most days it’s just David and the baristas hanging around.
And David loves them. Ruby and Mary Margaret have been working at the Hut for as long as he has been coming in.
Both girls are younger, in their mid-20’s (close to David’s own age of 27), and both are extremely fond of David. One of them always has his usual order (large regular, no cream, two sugars, and no fancy crap) ready before he’s even completely through the door.
Although he rarely sees them outside of the shop, David considers Ruby and Mary Margaret to be his friends, and they clearly feel the same about him.
Ruby treats him like an older brother, joking and teasing and annoying him to no end. She pesters him about everything under the sun, much like a baby sister, and David protects her from the occasional over-zealous male patron, fulfilling his role as pseudo big brother.
David and Mary Margaret’s relationship is a bit more complicated, though no less genuine. He has brotherly feelings toward her as well, though he doesn’t think the sentiment is returned.
David suspects that Mary Margaret has feelings for him that extend beyond close friendship, but he has no plans (or desire) to reciprocate.
It’s not that Mary Margaret is unattractive or in any way unappealing. Not at all. But David doesn’t have time for relationships. Nor does he have a desire to fit one into his life.
At least that's what he tells himself.
His excuses for avoiding romantic entanglements are ready made and always extremely convenient.
His job at the animal shelter consumes most of his time. It is his passion, his reason for waking up in the morning. Some might even call it an obsession.
Even when he’s not working, David is usually thinking about work. Did he order enough food for the week? How many vet appointments are scheduled tomorrow? How are the people who took home the Labrador last week doing?
David typically found himself scrambling for the phone or his notes and receipts when questions like these came up. Often at all hours of the night. He spent more time at the shelter than he did his own apartment.
His obsession with the shelter (and his strict routine) had always been a major hurdle in past relationships, and it wasn't likely to get any better now that he was part owner.
In the five years that he had been working there, David's only steady relationship had been with this dinky, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop and its baristas.
And he was perfectly okay with that.