The Morning Ritual

She appeared suddenly at the big glass doors. She straightened her overcoat and folded down the collar, grabbed the big brass handle, pushed and made her way into the coffee shop. It was good to be out of the wind, but now she was at the back of a queue. Not an orderly queue, and she did so love it when things were arranged properly, no, this was an assortment of people spread about the floor of the shop, near the counter, some preparing to order, others waiting for their drink, some waiting with those waiting, and no proper way to tell exactly what was going on. She excused herself, made her way forward, and stood behind a man who was speaking his order across the counter at that very moment. Her fingers clenched the handle of her slim briefcase, and relaxed, and clenched again. She shuffled forward on high heels, sensible size, sensible pattern, classy she hoped, not dull she hoped, and cleared her throat with a little cough.

“Hello. I would like to order …” she began in a thin, persistent voice, just audible above the machines and the chatter. And she told the man she would be sitting at a table. She hated announcing things, felt she did that rather too much, and felt she cleared her throat more than was strictly necessary, which attracted attention she didn’t want. All she needed was for the barista to hear her order, and now the whole shop knew her business. Well, some of her business. And a pretty minor sort of aspect of her business, which people don’t normally care about too much anyway, and besides, she was in a coffee shop, and it’s perfectly natural, and expected, to be ordering a coffee in a coffee shop.

It still seemed too much though. She walked to the tables, and it made a clip-clip-clip noise and she wondered why she had worn the loud shoes, but they were only loud on this surface, which was in fact a loud floor, and it wasn’t the shoes’ fault at all, and she pulled out a chair from a vacant table and the chair legs echoed screamingly around the shop, and she sat down as quickly as she could to bring an end to this silly succession of avoidable noises. Then she had to work her chair in a bit, as it was quite far out from the table, and as she did this the chair caused a staccato of strangled farts, lower but still audible, and she barely hid a smirk as it sounded funny and she was already embarrassed and not a little cross and just wanted to be somewhere else, doing something else, alone.

Her drink arrived. It was small and lacked ostentation, like her. She stirred and allowed it to cool. As she stirred she looked at the menu, scanning the list of lunch items with her small hazel eyes. Hazel was the colour you said you had when your eyes weren’t a real colour, she always thought, and her hair had been called “mousy” when she was younger too, which was like a non-shade of an almost colour. Nothing about her was colourful. Or memorable. She noted that many of the lunch menu items were pasta, and she thought about the parmesan cheese they usually offer with pasta, and she thought that parmesan cheese smells like vomit. She drank her coffee.

On the street she held her mobile phone and looked at the screen, as it connected. “Tell Barry he’s fired,” she said.

Published in: on March 22, 2012 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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