Short Story: Coffee Shop Curator

Carolyn Insley, BFR Staff

There are a lot of trees in New York City. No, I don’t mean Central Park—of course there are trees in the park. I mean it’s like someone looked around at this dark grey place and thought, “Hey, why don’t we just plant a bunch of shit so that when they try to say New York City is cold and unforgiving, well, they won’t really be wrong but at least they can look up and say it into the trees.” And I’m not saying they’re those beautiful rust-colored trees that line New England streets They’re really just plain, average, nothing special trees, but they live in New York City. They breathe the bad air, endure the yuppie brunch conversations, and live in and around the garbage just like the rest of us.

“Hey”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“What can I get you?”

“Oh, uh, coffee. Iced. Black. A morning bun too.”

The disinterested barista scooped ice into a clear unmarked cup and contemplated quite philosophically the grit beneath her nails. She held the lever down with the other hand until the cup was brimming with overpriced stale coffee. She didn’t look once at the cup and yet, managed to avoid spilling a single drop. Her name tag read “Kate.” Kate seemed like a pretty average girl, working a pretty average job. Minus the transition metal addiction.

“Hey, lady, are you gonna stand there and stare at me all day, or are you gonna pay for this?”

“Sorry, Jesus. Here.”


“Is anyone sitting here?”

The small Asian girl barely looked over her hip, square glasses before refocusing on her fancy tablet decked out in indie label band stickers. Granted, she had large headphones on and couldn’t have heard the woman who asked. Not that it would have been polite to take her headphones off when she saw someone mouthing words at her so he or she didn’t have to feel like a total idiot and look like they were talking to themselves. God.

“Okay, taking that as a no. Thanks.” She said under her breath as she sat down at the little corner table for two. It was raining outside and her coffee was ice cold as it warmed the palms of her hands as she peered outside at the soggy grey people on this soggy grey day. >>(Too Dr. Seuss-y?)

“Hey. Is anyone sitting here?”

“Oh, no go for it.”

“Actually, I just needed the chair. Sorry.”

The tall and unusually broad-shouldered man stopped, hand on the chair, and contemplated the potential immensity of the situation. The girl sitting before him, now slightly embarrassed (in the cutest possible way), was looking to him for his next move. He didn’t particularly consider himself a determinist, but maybe this was it. Maybe this was her, the girl of his dreams…

The low, slow hum of the chair dragging across the “distressed” wood floor was excruciating.  

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