A Character Study: Barista Girl (Short Story)

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She practices Starbucks etiquette as well as she slings coffee. She’s never asked my name—as a drive thru patron, there’s no need—but she lights up every time we roll through because she knows us. She even peeps behind my husband and I to spread a little morning sunshine with her bright smile to our girls in the back seat.

After she had learned that I taught across the street at the school on the corner, it didn’t take long for some random Starbucks treats to start showing up in our staff room every now and then—pastries, coffee boxes, prepackaged foods, and even 50+ full-sized cartons of their chilled lattes once. I would like to believe it’s all because of her.

When I asked her one day what her name was, she was genuinely surprised, and her smile grew even brighter. She had scribbled countless names on cups day after day, but I doubt, by the twinkle in her eyes when I did inquire, that it’s likely no one receiving the honor of having their name f*cked up on purpose would ever bother to ask what her name was in return.

She doesn’t know it yet, and may not ever know, but I’ve begun to build a protagonist around her for a novel that I had started structuring back in December set in a coffee house. Although the character I will create is going to be unique and suited for the story I am penning, she will most definitely embody my favorite barista’s characteristics—buttery, brown eyes, dark strawberry blonde hair, a smile stretched from East to West with contagious joy, and, of course, her name will be Jessica.

WP Prompt: A Character Study–Write about someone intriguing that you’ve met in the last year.

Somewhere in Midtown (Short Story)

Before you even open the door, you know you’re about to step into another world. The sweet aroma of roasted coffee beckons, seeping out of the independent coffee house, curling its fragrant tendrils around you to lure you into its keeping. Artists, writers, dreamers alike take note of you when you step inside. You know you are a stranger. You feel them brand you with half-curious eyes before they delve back into their masterpieces.

Warn, mismatched couches and stuffed, oversized chairs clutter the small retreat, torn open like a portal in time, catapulting you back into the memories of your college days when you had stumbled upon that secret coffee shop in Santa Cruz where you knew that the moment you left you’d never find the place again.

You can’t even understand the menu behind the bar counter because its so cloudy with chalk dust, but it doesn’t even matter what you order, anything will taste like the best coffee you’ve ever had. The barista grins at you as panic washes over your desperate face.

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“Please, make me your favorite drink,” you mutter in embarrassment.

He doesn’t even reply with words. He doesn’t have to. His smile says it all.

You peruse the coffee house once more after he hands you a porcelain cup. All you have is your cappuccino and your eyes to entertain you, so you wedge yourself into a corner and hope that the fervent words tickling your tongue about all that you feel find their way into your journal someday before they are lost in the moment.