She’s focused, and tucks a stray hair behind her ear. But as a customer walks in, the door bells jingle, she looks up and the strand immediately falls out. It bops around her eyes and lips.
He’s dressed in a fading gray sweater and dark khaki pants. His shoes make hard clanking noises as he walks to the counter.
“A 12-ounce vanilla latte, please,” he says. “Skinny.” The pause he puts between the two sentences, makes it seem like the please can be associated to the “vanilla latte” part, but not the “skinny” part. I hate him for not being nice to her for the whole sentence.
She nods, and grabs for the rebellious lock to tuck it into a metal clasp that’s holding the rest of her hair and recommences barista focus. “A 12-ounce vanilla latte. —-Skinny.” She grabs a compostable cup, skim milk, and vanilla syrup in one continuous movement. She sets them all on the counter.
I can’t help wondering if the scent of her light brown hair smells more of milk, vanilla or honey? Or more like coffee? Or perhaps patchouli oil? From my spot in the window those locks seems so pure and clean. Like maybe they doesn’t even need shampoo. Her hair is exactly one color: light brown. Some might even describe it as mousy, and it’s undeniably the most approachable feature of her otherwise sharp and angular physique. An angular nose, angular thin shoulders, her collar bone sharp against tight skin that reveals other bones across her breast line. Even her smile is tight. Big white teeth stretching out through a small face, like a reptile breaking out of shell. She grabs the portafilter and fills it with aromatic dark espresso.
I check the time. It’s 22 mins past 8am. I leave for work at 8:24am. I have two minutes. It’s Thursday. She works on Thursday. Sometimes I leave at 8:25 on Thursdays.
She’s rings up the customer up at the register while espresso melts, filling a shot glass below. And before accepting his credit card, she politely wipes her hands on a rag that’s tucked into her high-waisted jeans. Those jeans. They kill me. The way they flaunt her thin waist. Accentuate her thin figure. Accentuate her femininity.
She rings the customer up. It’s 8:23.
I pick up my empty cappuccino cup and deposit it in the glass bin. She hasn’t noticed me. Well, she’s “noticed” me, of course, she rang me up for my cappuccino too and poured my espresso. And I know she recognizes me a a regular. She just hasn’t noticed me.
Now she’s bent over some mess on the ground, and simultaneously wiping the unknown substance and putting out a fresh jug of cream on the counter. Her shoulder blades are stretched, and the skin between them taut. And I can’t help but feel entranced. I don’t watch directly, but I never stop collecting details. Like the way her stubborn hair just fell out again and how she has absentmindedly tucked behind her ear again.
I leave the shop. Get in my car, turn it on. And think of her jutting elbow and how it might feel cupped in my palm. I wonder what her sensation of my tongue along her collarbone would feel like given that there’s such little flesh between the two features. I wonder if I would taste bone?
I wonder if she’d mind if I took out one of my bobby pins from my hair, and clipped it to that stubborn lock of hers. And I wonder if she’d notice why I did it.
Fridays she doesn’t work. Fridays I don’t drink coffee.