“Triple shot Latte with Soy for Jim.” The pretty barista behind the counter called out. She slid the to-go cup on the counter towards the crowd of 20-somethings.
Jim looked up from his phone. No one else in the waiting crowd looked up from theirs. No other Jim then, he thought and grabbed the drink. It was good. Perfectly foamy on top, not too sweet, and the milk wasn’t scalded. He looked up and stared at the busy barista anticipating eye contact that didn’t happen.
“Thanks,” he bubbled. She didn’t hear him. Jim turned and made his way back to his seat and dove into his phone once again. He poured over her messages again, looking up, down, and between any lines that may or may not have been there.
Hey, do you want to grab a coffee sometime?
Yeah, If love to.
Where do you want to go?
Well theres this great little cafe a few minutes
from the Trinity campus called House Roast.
Cool. I think Ive heard of that place befor
Wed at 10 work for you?
I have class till 1030.
Can you do 11?
See you then
She hadn’t responded after that. Jim assumed that they were still on. He backed out of their conversation and pulled up her pictures. Most were grainy or blurry or just artsy shots of skylines, but he spied a septum piercing in a few of her selfies. God that’s hot, he thought.
Just then he realized his close proximity to the other tables and what he was doing. He looked back down at his phone and closed the app. His face felt hot and he had the urge to do something with his hands. A few books lay on the shelf next to his table. Jim picked up the first on the pile and opened to the first cover.
“PROPERTY OF BAILEY/HOWE LIBRARY” was stamped in red on the blank first page. He flipped through a few more pages. He was neither better or worse to see “Two Treatises on Government– John Locke” a few pages later.
Jim scanned the first few pages, reading nothing and continually checking the time on his phone. Half his latte and 16 non-read pages later his phone yielded 11:04 a.m. Jim closed the book and pulled up the app on his phone again. “Can you do 11?” A knot started to form in his stomach. An anxious voice crept into the back of his mind.
‘Am I being stood up?’
‘Where is she?’
‘Okay, I’ll give her five more minutes until I leave.’
Jim shoved his phone into his pocket and decided to watch the line of students grow and dwindle as the baristas behind the counter buzzed back and forth. He decided that he hated this cafe. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it; it wasn’t the intimate lighting or the red-brick interior– he thought they looked cozy. It smelled wonderfully of espresso, so that wasn’t it. The space just seemed… hostile in a way. The knot tightened and doubled over on itself. Jim checked his phone again: 11:11.
He stood and decided to leave. He gathered his latte and wrapped his scarf around his neck. He left John Locke’s Treatises on the table. Jim, unconsciously, made one last attempt to make eye contact with the pretty barista. Nothing. He quickly shuffled out past the line, only pausing to hold the door open for a girl, bundled up from boot to hat.
“Thanks,” she beamed.
Jim returned her cheeriness with indifference. “You’re welcome.” She was pretty too, but Jim made no other attempts at eye contact as he shoved his hands in his jacket pockets and cast his eyes to the pavement. The girl did a double take and pulled out her phone.
“Can you do 11?” She hoped she hadn’t missed him.