Sally Thorne came in every morning from nine to noon. She sat at the same table and ordered the same thing: cafe au lait and buttered toast. The quirkily gorgeous barista, whose arms were covered in botanical tattoos, knew Sally’s order by heart. After shoveling out a couple bills Sally made her way over to her little corner seat.The giant windowed walls of the coffee shop filled the space with clean warm light. Squashy velvet chairs speckled the room between an array of eclectic tables. The smell of hot roasted coffee beans and warmed up pastries permeated the air and made Sally’s mouth water.
“Alrighty,” the barista chimed as she slid the cup of coffee onto the table. “Your toast will be out in a minute. The first batch got burnt. Tomorrow’s will be on the house.” The pretty tattooed woman smiled and walked back to the counter. Sally smiled back, pulling her warm mug and saucer closer, and began to take a sip.
It’s easy for one to lose touch with the world around them when enjoying the day’s first glorious sip of coffee. Engulfed in her euphoric steaming mug Sally didn’t notice the enormous burly man walking towards her.
“Mornin’ Sally!” The giant of a man said loudly as he plopped down in the seat across from her. Sally yelped as she inhaled a large gulp of hot coffee and spilled the rest down her homely yellow sweater.
“Do you MIND?” Sally said angrily. She ripped a handful of napkins out of the bin on the table and began cleaning her glasses. “Look at this mess.” The strange man sat quietly, a huge grin across his face, as Sally dabbed napkins across her clothes and the table. After a few seconds Sally eyed the man suspiciously, “Can I help you?”
“Barnabas.” The man said, folding his hands and setting them on the table. He smiled even wider, making the corners of his eyes crinkle.
“Okay?” Sally asked. She fidgeted nervously, pulling at the bottom of her soaked sweater. Barnabas’s intense smile and stare made her uneasy. She never liked people staring.
“Barnabas Jones,” he said enthusiastically. “We sat next to each other in the third and fourth grade. Mrs. Baskin’s class?” Sally studied the man for a few moments. Behind the scruffy black beard and the gnarly man hands on the table there he was: Barnie Jones. The boy who hit her in the face with a foursquare ball on the first day of school and shattered her new purple glasses. The same Barnabas Jones she used to draw pictures of with hearts all around in her diary.
“How in the world did you recognize me?” Sally laughed lightly and suddenly became very aware of her drab appearance. She slowly readjusted herself in her seat, hoping that her new posture would distract from her unruly permed mass of coffee flecked hair.
“I’d recognize you anywhere! Same smile. Same purple glasses.” said Barnabas. “How long have you been in the city?”
“About three years. Ever since my di—… Since I started a job at corporate.” Sally’s cheeks burned a little.
“Corporate?” Barnabas asked surprised. “You spent every minute of every hour drawing in your little notebook. I remember. I would have thought you’d be running a studio or something.” He smiled and tapped his finger on the cover of Sally’s journal. She had forgotten it was still on the table. “I’ve seen you in here a couple of times with your journal and cup of pens.” Sally felt a wave of embarrassment. Nobody other than the barista and regulars knew she loved to draw.
“A hobby, nothing more.” Sally said modestly. She reached for her journal, but Barnabas beat her to it. Her heart leapt into her throat.
“May I?” Barnabas asked. “I won’t if you really don’t want me to.” He gave her a warm smile. She tucked her hair behind her ear and nodded. Barnabas pried open the journal. Sally thought she was going to explode from the exposure. Her drawings were so intimate and personal. Until this moment they had always been a secret.
Barnabas’s eyebrows furrowed as he flipped through the pages. He paused for a long while on a page that Sally couldn’t see. She continued to tuck her hair behind her ears and tug at the end of her sleeves. Finally, his eyes lifted to meet hers.
“Sally,” Barnabas said slowly, “I think we need to talk.”
To be continued.