I had always had a thing for coffee shops, but I had a special love for this one. Every morning I would walk in and buy a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino. I personally prefer it over Starbuck’s coffee any day. I had always adored hearing the jingle of the golden bells every time I walked through the glass café door. And as if the jingle weren’t pleasing enough to my ears, I was always greeted by a dance of contemporary jazz music. From my first step inside, following me to the coffee counter, and walking me to my seat, jazz danced all around me. It twirled down my body, from head to toe, and danced down my spine. It was invigorating.
“Good evening, Sterling.” I smiled at the Cashier. He worked every morning and sometimes nights but for the most part, Sterling was off on weeknights.
“What can I get for you, bestie?” Sterling grinned and winked at me. He always made it a point to ask that question even though he already knew the answer. He says that it’s because he has to ask; it was a thing that all employees had to do.
“Oh I think you already know the answer to that, Sterling.” I smiled and watched as he grabbed a plastic cup with the initials O.C it and a steaming cup of coffee behind it. He handed me the cup after successfully completing my order and I smiled at him. I walked over a booth in the back of the coffee shop where the lights were dimmed and the music was just a hair louder. I set my cell phone on the table and sipped from the white straw. I fiddled with the cup and my hands, debating on whether or not I wanted to call a friend and have them meet me here.
I began to tap my foot to the beat of Michael Buble’s I’ve got you under my skin. I sighed, feeling a little lonely. I wondered when Sterling’s break was, or even better, what time he got off of work. I looked across the café and watched Sterling do his thing behind the counter. I had known Sterling since the third grade and to call him my best friend was a little of an understatement. We have been friends from our first skinned knee to the first time we had ever consumed alcohol, and boy was that a night to remember.
There were four of us: Sterling, Kenzie, Phoenix, and I. We were sophomores in high school and I guess you could say we were “trying to find ourselves.” Neither one of us, except for Kenzie, had ever really consumed any amount of alcohol. Kenzie, however, was a big consumer. She did anything from having sex, smoking weed, and drinking bottles of rum. Kenzie never really had any boundaries, but I suppose that’s what made her so interesting. She always told these crazy stories but always made them sound so believable. Being the gullible person I am, I believed her.
Phoenix was the kind of friend that you loved but you had to warm up to. When I first met Phoenix, I had to seriously adjust. I had never been the center of attention, nor did I like being a part of it. Phoenix was crazy, weird, and she simply did not care how people viewed her. She would stand in the middle of the court yard and dance like the worst white girl trying to do that ridiculous wutang dance and she didn’t care. If she liked a song, she’d sing it out loud. If she liked a musical, she would belch out the words for everyone to hear. As outgoing as Phoenix is, she was very self-conscience. I never understood why she had low self-esteem, but I’m sure there was a perfectly legitimate reason for it.
Sterling had been there with me since the third grade. I don’t remember much from elementary school, and we had gotten separated in middle school after the seventh grade, but we reunited our freshman year of high school. It was the first day of band camp and I had been excited. I didn’t expect to see Sterling, but I was happy that I did. He was the one who introduced me to Phoenix and Kenzie. He had already known Phoenix since middle school when he changed schools, and neither of us knew who Kenzie was. I remember sitting with Sterling around one o’clock, waiting for our band director to come to his stand and tell us to stop talking. I remember thinking that Kenzie was such a good tenor saxophone and she looked even cooler. I wanted to ask her name but was too scared so I made Sterling do it.
“You still here, Hadley?” I heard, a voice breaking me of my thoughts. I will never understand why he feels the need to call me by my last name.
“Oh, hey, Sterling.” I moved over in my seat so that Sterling could sit next to me. “Are you off already?”
“Yeah. Boss let me out early today.” He answered. “So what are you still doing here?”
“Well, I was waiting until you were on your break, but I see I don’t have to anymore. I think I just got lost in thought.”
“Oh yeah?” He grinned. “Have you been thinking about how much you love me and what a wonderful best friend I am for buying you coffee every morning? You should be bowing down to me, you know. In this coffee shop, I am your God.”
“Right. And I’m Halle Berry.” I rolled my eyes. Sterling has always been so silly. “Actually, I was thinking about sophomore year. You know, that night we went to Kenzie’s house and got wasted?”
“Oh right!” Sterling laughed. “Man, you were so crazy!”
“Um, correction! We were crazy!” I laughed and felt a little awkward. I still remember some of that night. It was fun, but it was definitely not something I’d dreamed of doing again. “I was so horny that night that I actually tried to get sexual with Kenzie! And you and I made out!”
Sterling raised his hands defensively, and leaned back a little. “Hey, you kissed me first.”
“Oh whatever,” I smirked, crossing my arms and pretending to be annoyed. “Anyway, what are you planning on doing, now that you’re off of work?”
“I’m going to hang out with a friend of mine. His name is Ryker. I’m waiting for him now.”
“Oooh,” I teased. “He sounds like a bad boy.”
“I’m leaving.” And just like that, Sterling got up from his seat and started to walk away.
“Dude,” I grabbed onto him. “I was only joking.”
“I know,” He smiled. “But Ryker’s outside.”
“Alright,” I smiled. “Have fun on your date.”
“Whatever.” He laughed and gave me a peck on the cheek. “Have fun being alone.” And with that, he winked and walked out of the café shop. What a jerk.
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