Coffee House Affair This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 27, 2014
The rain drops hit the bare parts of my neck as I walked along the edge of the sidewalk. Luckily, I’d worn my red rain boots that morning at the advice of my mother, so my feet were spared the cold agony that is stepping in a puddle of water, which, with my luck would’ve surely happened. My arms were crossed across my chest, pinning my fluttering coat to my body, and my hair was swarming around my face from the brutish force of the wind, the strong kind of wind that always accompanies an afternoon rain.

I could see the flashing neon sign a few doors in front of me on the strip, it had an adorable electric coffee cup with illuminated steam seemingly above it. Above the cute little cup, was a familiar moniker, “Theo’s Coffee.” I’d never actually met “Theo” but I’d met just about every single one of his staff members, and I that was good enough for me. After about 3 straight years of coming to Theo’s, I’d managed to maintain a deeply personal relationship with each of the baristas. Sad, I know. I went there way too often.

“Hey,” Jennifer (my personal favorite barista) yelled to me as she manned two seemingly complex machines at once. “Long time no see.”
I smiled at her, fumbling with a cup, and a lid that was too small for it, whilst ringing customers up. “I know, I’ve been pretty busy.”
“With what?” She asked snidely, raising her eyebrows playfully, but mostly she just wanted to know. She was pretty nosey and blunt, and I wasn’t sure if that was a virtue or not.

“Life,” I answered bluntly, moving to the bar that made up one side of the closed in barista station. I sat in a very tall stool, my feet dangled a good foot or two above the tiled floor.

Jennifer, with a chestnut brown ponytail swinging back and forth as she scurried from the machine to the register, back to the machine, then over to the pastry shelf to wrap muffins for customers. The line was pretty long for a Tuesday, but it was raining, so I guess that explains it. I sat in silence and watched Jennifer slide coffee after coffee across the counter, until there was no one left in line. When she finished serving the customers, she slid a beautifully crafted Frappuccino over the bar to me. I caught it mid slide, and slid back the exact amount I owed her for it, $3.12.

“You look terrible you know,” she said, propping her elbows up and resting her chin in her hands on the bar.

I scoffed, smoothing my hair back. “Gee, thanks.”

“Just saying.” Jennifer grabbed a cup off the counter and started dumping random ingredients into a boxy mixer. She did this often, utterly convinced that she would create the next classic coffee that way, mostly she just created nasty drinks and a big mess. But failure never stopped her, I liked that.

I sipped at my drink and the buzz of the blender masked any other sound in the whole café, Jennifer just stood there, smiling like she’d won the lottery or something. She confidently poured the contents of the mixer into a tall cup, it was this greyish sort of color with black specs that I was pretty skeptical of. And I knew exactly what was coming next.

“Bottoms up,” Jennifer smiled as she set the sludgy drink in front of me.

‘Umm,” I fumbled. “I’m good, thanks.”
“Well,” she tilted her head, I could hear her tapping her foot against the floor in an annoyed fashion. “Who else is going to try it?”

“How about you?” I snapped back. Jennifer did not like that I was sassy with her, she just glared.

“I’ll try it,” a surprisingly deep voice said from behind me.

“Tommy,” Jennifer screeched, waving her hand in the air. She turned to me, “See, Tommy’s going to try it because he’s a real friend.”
All of the sudden, a 6’2 tree of a teenage boy emerged from the thunder storm outside, not a drop of water on him. He had brown eyes, which I usually didn’t notice because they blend in with everything, but his stood out. His khakis were freshly pressed and his shirt was pristine, I appreciated that kind of cleanliness, especially in teenaged boys.

Tommy, after glancing over to me and smiling cryptically, took the cup in his hand and brought it to his lips. I watched his face as he slurped up the drink through a black straw. His eyes did not crinkle in disgust, he didn’t immediately throw it away, or spit it out, or do anything for that matter. Oh my god, he actually liked it.

“That’s actually pretty good, Jen.” Tommy said to her, watching her green eyes get wider with a glistening delight.

Tommy set it down on the bar and turned to me. “I’m Tommy,” he said as he stuck his hand out, the smile on his face was a genuine display of happiness.

“Minnie,” I said to him as I promptly shook his surprisingly soft hand.

He smiled even wider, “Like the mouse?”

I could feel my cheeks turn scarlet, “Yeah, my parents were big Walt Disney fans.”

“Yeah well, try being named after a train.” He said back, in efforts to comfort me and my hideously juvenile name. I smiled and shifted my body a little bit to face him better. He sat on the stool next to me, and I noticed that his feet actually touched the ground. Wow, he was tall.
I made eye contact with Jennifer, who winked and shook her shoulders a little bit just before walking away to ring up a customer waiting at the register.

I lowered my head towards Tommy, “In all honesty,” I said as I looked at the disgusting grey sludge in his cup. “Did you actually like it?”
He chuckled a bit, “It was alright, but I probably won’t drink anymore of it.”

Awww, he lied to make her feel better. My heart melted like butter on a sidewalk in the middle of summer.

“Is that a good book?” Tommy asked, I was so focused on how adorable his gesture was that I was taken aback by his question. I followed his gaze that landed on my worn out copy of Peter Pan that lay on the counter.

“Oh,” I giggled. I felt immediately stupid, giggling, really? “Yeah, it’s my favorite.”

“How many times have you read it?” His eyes moved from the book to me, and then in between them like he was watching a tennis match, following the ball back and forth with his eyes.

I felt a sudden urge of flirt rise through my torso, I had never felt that before, did I know how to flirt? Well, we’ll see won’t we? “Guess,” I said flatly. Well, it was better than giggling, I still felt dumb for giggling. Maybe I could flirt.

“Thirty seven,” Tommy scrunched up his lips and nose in the same gesture. Adorable. He. Was. Adorable.

“Close,” I brought my hand to rest on the counter next to my book. “Actually, twenty one.”

“You’ve read the same book twenty one times?” He was baffled, I loved it. “Why?”

I felt kind of embarrassed, but then I saw that his surprise was kind of an admiring surprise, the good kind. “Honestly, it just gets better every time.”

His shoulders rolled back and he sat wordlessly for a few painfully silent seconds.

“That Minnie, is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.” His voice was still deep, but with that sentence it lightened a little, like a chocolate covered strawberry. Behind the bitter, there was sweet.

I could hardly suppress the excitement that rose in my chest, cute? I wanted to scream it to the rain splattered roads, I was cute! Eeeeep. But I contained it, I would be a mature adult about this.

I had no clue what to say to the sweetest thing anyone’d ever said to me, so I sat, smiling at him like a kid that just met Santa for the first time, amazed.

Tommy cleared his throat, looking down at his shoes, touching the ground (that still blew my mind.) “So,” he raised his eyes to meet mine. “Minnie,” saying my name like it was the answer to a riddle he’d toyed over for 16 years, and just figured it out. He paused, tilting his head to the side a tad. “Do you like donuts?”

What? It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I couldn’t help but laugh. But what I did was hardly a laugh. I did that half snort half laugh thing, the one that sounds like you just got punched in the gut. Seriously. I was petrified. I did NOT just snort in front of him. I wanted nothing more than to slap myself, but I refrained. Instead, I answered him. “Yes, I like donuts.”

I could tell Tommy was smiling at my awful pig noise, masquerading as a laugh. “Good,” he got up from his stool, grasping the nasty, cold Frappuccino Jennifer concocted. “I know the best after hour’s donut shop, just a few blocks away. I promise you Minnie, they’ll be the best donuts you’ve ever had.”

This was an invitation, I literally couldn’t have stood up any faster. I swiped my beloved copy of Peter Pan from the counter, winked at Jennifer, who almost slipped in an elated fit. Then, I followed Tommy to the door, covered in water droplets.

He whisked up an umbrella that was propped against the wall. Tommy tore off the Velcro strap and pushed it open. Now, I’m no superstitious nut ball or anything, but everyone knows that opening an umbrella indoors is seriously bad juju.

“That’s bad luck you know,” I said silkily. I was shocked, the tone of my voice had never, ever, been remotely close to silky.

Tommy hoisted it above our heads as he opened the door for me, “I make my own luck.” He’d said it like he was reciting his ABC’s, effortlessly, and with such conviction it almost knocked off my red rain boots.

A gust of wind hit me in the face and wiped off the entranced grin I had, I was in awe of him. I make my own luck? Who says that? Better yet, who says that and actually means it? Could he have been any more mysteriously beautiful?

I stepped out onto the slick concrete sidewalk, Tommy didn’t miss a beat, stepping right out beside me. “Ready?” He asked me, little flecks of rain hit my cheek, but I could not have cared any less.

“Yep,” I said.

He tossed Jennifer’s Frappuccino into the mouth of the nearest trash can, and led me down the wet sidewalk, towards this mysterious donut shop. Not a single drop of rain seemed to land on him, he was such a fascinatingly perfect human being, that even rain didn’t dare touch him as it may take away from his beauty.

My rain boots made this really annoying squeak against the rain as we walked, but he didn’t seem to mind. He just held the umbrella over my head and walked beside me, but leading me at the same time. And the thing that I loved the most, was when we first started walking, he was smiling at nothing which I thought was kind of weird, but then I realized; he was smiling at me. And that made the rain go away and the sun come out just so I could see his smile better with the light. See what I mean? The rain stops and the sun rises for him. Like, who does that ever happen to? I secretly hoped, that maybe if I stuck around him for a while, the rain and sun might do that for me. And even if they didn’t, I could watch them do it for him, and that would be enough.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

shortney said...
Mar. 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm
MemphisBelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 7, 2014 at 7:34 pm
Thank you :)
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback