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Coffee Gone Cold

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She comes in often, Elizabeth. Not everyday, but often enough that I know her name, her order, and her habits. It is rare for her to ever stay for the lunch time rush, and she is almost never there for the calm nights. No, Elizabeth only ever comes in the early morning, right after we open up, right on our heels.

It is always the same with her, always the same. She comes in, she smiles, orders a black coffee, and then goes into a corner and watches the happenings of a morning. Far be it for me to say that someone is odd, but, well, she is. She takes the coffee, but almost never drinks it. She lets it get cold, lets the flavor fade, and then throws away the cup. She just sits there, for hours, watching people come and go, as though she is observing some foreign ritual that, though she grasps and understands the gestures and meanings, she finds somewhat fascinating. I can see it. I can see it in the way that she watches it all, the way that she doesn't interact, but stares after them all. Goodness knows that I've had more than enough time to observe her. I know the way that she sits there in the back, laid back and posture relaxed, but her eyes alert and awake and almost hungry as she watches everything. There is a tinge of sadness, sometimes. Other times, it is as though she is absent from herself, like she is only existing. I've seen that before too, in others. I have to be able to, I'm a barista. I have to be able to read people, to know when to smile and joke and be loud, and when to be completely professional and distant with a soft voice. I need to know how to read them, so that they will come back, give a god review, and give a tip. But for all that I have learnt how to read others, she always remains the one that is most isolated and enigmatic. She remains locked up, behind her walls that almost never fall, except for the briefest of seconds, the briefest moment that is almost never there. Just a moment.

There is no way to see too far into her boundaries. There are no others that she interacts with once she gets her coffee. There is no one she comes in with or leaves with. There is no one she is waiting for. She does not check the clock, but the sun. She doesn't bother with trying to catch anyone's eye. She just seems to melt away from the world. There is something about her, I think, that makes it easy for her to disappear into the background, despite how beautiful she is. And she is beautiful. Long blond hair, eyes that I can never remember the color of but are gorgeous, a killer body, and a nice smile when she does. She is ageless in her beauty, and in the five years that I have known her, she has not changed a bit.

Why is it that she is so alone? What happened to her to make her so... unusual?

Did she get her heart broken by an ex? Did she lose family? Is she alone in the world? Does she feel like she belongs here? Is she waiting for something? Is there someone she waits for? Is she hiding from someone? Maybe she's a wealthy heiress that wanted to get away from it all. Maybe she's a poor man's daughter that had to leave home. Maybe she's from a small town and she feels out of place here. Maybe she's a traveler that has decided to settle down here. Maybe she's fulfilling a promise to someone. Maybe she's just looking for herself.

Ah, but what do I know? I'm only a barista. Maybe I'm not meant to know.

Maybe she doesn't want me to know.

Maybe.