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Chapter 2.2 – December 2016 – Sarah
I wasn’t sure what to wear, so I put on some nice pants and a shirt thinking it’d be a hip coffee shop or brunch spot, but I felt completely overdressed for the dive when we arrived. Eloise looked right at home, but I had a hard time picturing Claire as a regular at this establishment. I was shocked that I had been a habitual patron.
The woman behind the counter smiled at me fondly and familiarly.
“Good to see you on your feet, Sarah.” The woman said with a slight middle eastern accent while handing the three of us drinks without even asking for our order.
“Thanks?” I said cautiously in return. I tentatively took a sip of my drink and it was the most perfect pumpkin spiced chai latte I’d had in my life, well what I remembered anyway. My caution dropped as I looked up excitedly at the woman and said a second enthusiastic, “Thanks!”
The woman chuckled and went to her next customer as the cashier rang us out.
“You wouldn’t know it looking at it,” Claire said, “but this is by the far the best place in the city for coffee and tea. You found it a few years ago and we’ve been coming here ever since.”
“I can see why. She just seems to know everyone’s order. Is everyone here a regular?”
“It’s weird, she, like, just knows your favorite drink or what exactly you need the moment you walk in. No one ever has to actually order. Or there are some that try to order something and she ignores them and makes what she knows they will enjoy. I don’t even think there’s a menu,” she said gesturing around the menu-less establishment.
Eloise added conspiratorially, “It’s like she’s psychic or something.”
“Or, she’s just good at her job,” Claire said sighing at Eloise.
“Or, an eclectic artist who expresses herself with coffee!” Eloise joked.
We all sat in a booth to savor our perfect cups.
My eyes wandered around the shop, occasionally settling on the face of a customer hoping to recognize something or someone. Most people who came in grabbed their drink and left right away. There seemed to be a wide variety of people coming in and out. With the volume of customers, one would think the owner would class up the place.
My eyes finally landed on a man who just entered the cafe as the bell rang.
I couldn’t say for sure if I’d ever seen him before, but my gut said I knew him. He locked eyes with me and had a startled reaction before quickly turning away. He was a good looking Indian man, with a bit of scruff and circles under his eyes. It looked like he had been up all night and he had an even longer day ahead of him.
“The male nurse…” I murmured to myself as I vaguely remembered when I woke in the hospital room.
“Do I know him?” I asked my roommates. They turned in unison to look at the man, both staring at him with confused stares. Their faces appeared as if they were having an inner struggle much harder than my simple question required. He rushed to the counter and the barista raised an eyebrow at the man’s shady behavior but didn’t say anything as she handed him his drink.
After he paid, he left without a second glance.
“Yes?” They said in unison with a hesitant question lingering in the air.
“I could swear I know him. I think he was the nurse at the hospital when I woke up, but that whole day is still a bit of a blur.”