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Coffee, Black

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This guy. The guy with the white ink tattoos. The guy with the voice who doesn't make eye contact with me, but orders the same thing every day.

I feel stupid when he comes in. I get clumsy. My arms are too long and my feet are too big and, goddammit when did my fingers get so fat?? Without fail, I forget the names of things and not matter how much I want to say something clever, I maybe manage a monosyllabic response of two. But, really, what can you say that's clever about cookies anyway? Some brilliant pun on oolong? My life is a disaster.

Instead I just look scared, stupid, and my hands shake and I feel like my chest is full of helium and I'm rising up towards the ceiling and it's humiliating. Brilliant approach, Garrett. Really bloody brilliant.

This guy moves like a wolf. I don't know how else to say it. Lean and feral, but so unnervingly calm. It's that animal calm that gets me, like he knows he could tear me apart, he could hold my throat in his teeth and not bite until he wanted to, and then... What?! Stop thinking about it.

"Coffee, black."


He's all clean lines. Crisp black shirt, buttoned tight over a lean compact chest, sleeves rolled neatly around the thickest part of his forearms and I am staring. Staring! White ink on caramel skin, smooth arms, and his hands...


My mouth is dry. He has money in his hand.

I've hesitated too long. Green eyes narrow at me from behind the thick black frames of his glasses and I am convinced I have never seen the color green before in my life.

"Sorry. Here you go," I take his money, hand him the cup. His fingers do not brush mine and it is the greatest tragedy of my life. Again. Every day.

He nods and is gone, his thick hair white and unearthly bright as he walks out of the big glass doors and out of my world until tomorrow morning at 9:05 am.

"He's single."


The tall blonde guy sitting in the corner looks over the top of his MacBook Pro at me but doesn't stop typing.


"You know who, kitten," Isabela, who must have been hiding in the stockroom, passes by me and sits next to the blonde guy, setting a little white plate of pie on his table. She eats a corner of his crust, taking it with her fingers, "Mr. 9:05."

"Oh. Oh. You mean... that guy? Oh, okay, well... that's... nice to know. Abstractly, I mean," I find myself intensely interested in the even distribution of paper napkins in the dispenser, "You... know him?"

"Andy used to work with him," Isabela pats the writer's leg under the table (at least I optimistically hope that it's his leg that she pats) and he nods.

"Oh. That's. Nice."

"Isabela, stop eating my pie. Yeah. I worked with him," he bats her hand away from his pie, "He's... interesting."


"All I'm saying is that while he comes in everyday at 9:05 on the nose, he won't come in unless you're at the counter," Isabela curls in next to the blonde guy, Andy, resting her head on his shoulder.


"I've seen him wait outside, kitten. He apparently has no interest in getting his coffee from me. Or Merrill. Or anyone that isn't you. If that means anything."

I shrug, exhaling through my nose like, whatever, and turn, leaving them behind me to go into the stockroom and spaz out in a really sophisticated way in private.

9:05 am. Tomorrow. He'll be here, and so will I, and he'll order a black coffee. From me.