Coffee Break

Inspired by Carolyn Forche’s “The Colonel”.

It was the morning rush. The line snaked back on itself. I waited my turn. Two people ahead a woman glanced back and smiled. I nodded in acknowledgement. Nice weather, I said. She agreed. The line advanced. We waited, then moved forward again. My nodding acquaintance ordered. Just a splash of water, she reminded the girl working the till. Of course. Just a splash, she told the barista, no more. The barista smiled. You get the same thing every day; they know your order; we know your order. Customers and staff froze, our attention turning to the man in the slick suit. What? he said and glared at each of us in turn. It’s true. Tell me it’s not true, the suit demanded. We all remained silent, some mouths hung agape. I know I’m right! We continued to stare. Fucking stupid sheep, he growled, turned, stormed out. We watched. We waited. Next customer please, the girl at the till said. The person at the the front ordered. The line advanced again. Some of us waited our turn patiently. Some of us didn’t.