Coffee and Sugar

February 6, 2013
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"Do you want cream and sugar in your coffee?" His broad frame leaned against the counter. I wasn't sure what to say. It took me a second to realize he was referring to the drink I ordered, and not his lips.

"Uh yeah sure. Cream please." I must have sounded like I had a large spider on the back of my neck. He rattled his fingers on the counter as if he was deciding on something. I wished he had a name tag. They don't do that in cafes. I could smell roasted beans and sugary pastries, and ordinarily I'd feel relaxed here. Today I felt as if I was charged with nervous energy and I was forced to contain it. I found myself transfixed by the strange abstract art hanging on the wall next to me. All I could see were splashes of red, cold streaks of blue, and speckles of vibrant white paint.

"Here you go ma'am." I jolted my mind away from the painting. The barista handed me my cup of coffee, "and that will be...two dollars and fifty cents." I looked up and his eyes met mine. I felt as if his stare was unmasking my feeble composure. His mouth twitched into a sly smile. He knew exactly what I was thinking. "Don't worry about the fifty cents." He said, when my hands shakily searched through the black hole called my purse. "I'm so sorry, uh, yeah thank you." I mumbled.

Have you ever walked out of a public place, and felt physically awkward? My legs felt like a new invention. I sighed with relief when I got outside. Shameful relief. I was too much of a coward to even ask him his name. I quickly drifted through the crowds of summer tourists and came across a busker. She was a tall, dark haired woman playing the violin. The sweet and mellow sounds of her playing, kept me still. I took a deep breath and decided to calm myself down. If I hadn't stopped and listened to her play, I probably never would have known the barista's name. I felt someone approach me, and I turned my head to face him. He was breathless, as if he had ran to catch up with me.

"My name's Daniel, and I forgot about the sugar, sorry." He smiled. "Here." Before I could open my mouth to speak, he grabbed my hand and stuffed a packet of sugar in it, closing my fingers around it with his palm. A sudden fire exploded in my chest as I felt my entire body tense up, and my heart started to race. "I-I-Uh..." but he already walked away. I rushed through the people passing me, and stopped short when I realized he'd vanished. Dismay lurked in the back of my mind, and I tentatively peeled off the cover on my cup of coffee, and ripped open the pack of sugar with my teeth. That's when I realized he'd written his number on the packet.

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