Thursday October 2, 2003
A middle aged, over worked and under appreciated man starts everyday, post shower and et cetera, with a jaunt down to the coffee shop. He looks forward to waiting in line, anticipating the friendliness he does not receive anywhere else. The immediate smile, the pleasant interest into his being, he doesn’t receive this treatment anywhere else. She works behind the counter, as any proper caffeine service representative would. She is a master at the friendly, but not over-done, small talk before asking for their order. She intently asks how everyone is doing, and insightfully chats about the weather. There is something magical and beautiful in the way she talks as she fulfills their requests.
She stands there almost looking expectantly, almost awaiting for some magical moment. Seemingly in anticipation for some heavenly host to wait patiently in line to request her presence at some universe shattering board meeting. Her face alights in glee with each new person as they step forward. Her boss does not understand her joy at six in the morning, nor does he comprehend why she requested that time slot everyday. But he is grateful, just like all the others. Grateful, but not understanding, it’s a pity.
It is really not that bad of a situation. Not in the shop at least. There she is a queen, a delighted addition to everyone’s morning. Her soft blonde hair rolls smoothly and just touches her slight shoulders. Her blue-green eyes blink behind untarnished eyelids, such natural beauty projecting perfectly. Her pink thin lips smirk at all the right times, and open with unforced laughter. Wives and daughters envy her, husbands and fathers dream of her. She brings everyman a cup of coffee and a taste of fantasy.
Her shift is over; she walks out alone with her cardboard cup full of the house blend, no cream. Wrapped in a worn white scarf and a thick wool-lined brown waist coat, she saunters out the door. She is the sole subject of attention for dozens of eyes. She walks down a block or two, into the distance and disappears from sight. The heads turn back to their newspapers and reports, their attentions turn back to their businesses and stocks. She is pressed back into their memories, to be reborn another day. Used as a diversion, she has served her purpose. Now no one cares about her sparkling eyes, and smooth youthful curves. No one notices as she turns the corner down an ignored alleyway, no one follows her as she walks past a dumpster and burning trashcan. No one ever notices her two outfit rotation. No one notices as she bends down and opens the angled doors to a deserted basement. No one ever sees her as she descends the stairs into her abandoned hospital recovery room. No one ever follows her, until today. I pass the homeless man, wrapped in torn blankets and newspapers. I reach the basement doors, slowly, fearfully. Looking down the path I had followed, I know I could not go back for coffee ever again. I reach down and open the basement door. And there before me, crouched in the corner, head on knees, arms wrapped around her legs, she is crying. Her sobbing covers my creaking footsteps as I walk towards her and sit down on the floor five feet from her solitude.
“…hello,” comes from within my mouth without prior thought.
Her head shoots up in shock, tears cascading down her cheeks from those blue-green ponds. She shows no fear; she just tilts her head to the side, questioning me. Her drowning eyes glisten as the tears begin to slow. Then, with a friendly smirk and a joyous glistening behind tearful eyes, she asks, “Can I help you?”