A crossed over leg gently sways underneath a flowy white tablecloth. The small shiny black ballet flat hanging onto the tip of a dainty and delicate foot for dear life as the girl with fluffy dark chocolate hair sits. The wide patio doors sit ajar, welcoming the humid summer breeze into the small French style coffee shop. She sips her coffee, waiting and hiding in wide-framed sunglasses as she reads yet another book on European history. Waiting. For freedom. For change.
“I would like to order a small coffee with two sugars, please.” a loud voice echoes across from where the girl was sitting. She looks up slightly, tipping her sunglasses down a hair to take a glimpse of who this voice belonged to. And why, this one voice felt like an intense bright light to her.
A tall man with skin complexion like coffee cream with a dash of peach powdered on his cheeks awaits by the counter, looking through his wallet for change. He dresses in tones of browns and blacks paired with shiny black loafers. A businessman, she assumes, ordering a coffee before he goes back to his work. She takes another sip of her coffee. She looks back down to read and shifts her glasses again as she continues waiting.
Whispers begin from one corner to the other, as she sips.
“Why is she in here, she should be out in the cotton fields.” a woman slyly smirks to her blue-eyed lady friend. They snicker.
“There’s one in my oldest son’s class. They’re bussing them into my school and I want them out of here.” the other says as they both take a confident gulp of their soft drinks. Cranberry red lips and stains of their racist comments print onto their plastic straws as they giggle and whisper some more before they depart for their next hate-filled adventure. They purposely bump into her chair as they throw their drinks into the trash. They chuckle to each other as they leave, leaving her with a small stain on the white tablecloth and her floral yellow dress. She waits and continues to sip her coffee, hands shaking.
The breeze turns from summer to winter as night arises. The clouds were not evident in the day as much as they are now. Rain pitter-patters on the awning of the coffee shop she sits in, sipping her hot coffee. A warm scone replaces her book. A small salad bowl with a dollop of the thousand island dressing is brought to her by one of the employees. He wears a tight smile as he drops the bowl onto her table, leaving a loud thud like thunder. Everyone in the coffee shop glances at the both of them, as she glances up at him. Ignoring the stares by the customers, she gives a questioning look to his menacing glare. She grips the bowl and props it close to her.
“Thank you.” she says, glancing back at her coffee. She takes another sip.
The employee still stands beside her table, still staring at her. She stands her ground as she continues to sip her coffee, her eyes now burning the wall across from her. He walks away. She takes a tiny silver fork from the side of her now cold scone and nibbles on the crumbs.
The stares are still there. The whispers begin to elevate as the windows shut closed, and the lights flicker off. The open sign turns off as she walks out with the herd of coffee shop-goers. She puts her wide sunglasses back on as she continues her way down back home for sleep.
The early morning rain trickles down the awning and the clouds ever so slowly disappear. A pale blue shines from the wide gaps of the clouds as she walks back to the same coffee shop. She orders another coffee and makes her way to the same spot. She adds a pinch of sugar into her coffee and sips. She wears white woven sandals with a lime green and white polka-dotted wrap dress. A pair of white framed sunglasses sits atop of her head. Her hair is worn naturally in a large low puff. She is joined with another warm scone and a new book. Her bag sits across from her, keeping her company. She takes another sip. She reads and she waits.
As afternoon creeps in, customers follow, ordering soft drinks and sandwiches as she finishes her scone and her book. She continues to sip her coffee. A familiar voice is heard from across the coffee shop. Her eyes shoot up to where the voice came from.
The same tall man, in the same tones of black and brown with the same shiny black loafers.
“I’ll have another small coffee with two sugars, please.” he says to a male employee. The same employee that dropped her salad onto her tabletop last night.
She looks away quickly, dropping her head down a little and sips her coffee again. She slides her sunglasses back on to cover the attention she’s giving that man. But she still doesn’t know why he is all she thinks about now when sitting in that coffee shop.
Maybe it’s the suit he’s wearing, she assumes again, as she opens her book to reread. Or because of the way he presents himself, she ponders. And his voice is oh, so dreamy, she muses. But she turns a page of her book to distract herself from the thoughts interrupting her. She takes another sip.
Whispers and murmurs are heard once again, as the afternoon sun begins to settle down into fluffy pillows of clouds and shades of orange and purple. More people arrive for a light dinner or dessert. Maybe a small tea cake or a chicken pesto panini would do for the small-stomached and small-minded older men that came into the shop, as they immediately began commenting on the menu. And on the girl. Sitting in her same spot with the same salad and thousand island dressing. She exchanged the coffee for a tall narrow glass of water.
“These black folk shouldn’t come into these coffee shops, they’re for us. They were built for us, not them.” one of the men mumbles to his friend. He nods in agreement. They both stare down at her while she takes a small bite of her salad, her eyes never wavering from the wall across from her. She listens to their chuckling as they purposely bump into her shoulder to throw away their plastic wrappers from their dessert. They walk away to a table far away from hers, as she hears once again the same word every person she’s ever met or seen who sees her. Who sees her as nothing but a threat to those people. She continues to take another bite of her wilted salad and a sip of her lukewarm water.
“Hi, can I take a slice of your cherry pie, please? I would love to eat here on this nice, cloudy day.” a voice commands to an employee. She glances over.
The same tall man again at the coffee shop, this time wearing cream-coloured shorts and a tight mocha brown short sleeve. A light brown fedora sits atop of his head. He however wears the same shiny black loafers and ankle socks. She looks back down at her salad and takes another sip of her water. She finishes her meal and decides that it is time for her to go, as she had spent too much time with him on her mind today. She packs her book up in her bag that was sitting across from her, and cleans her empty salad bowl and gulps her water down. Looking through her bag for her wallet so she could pay for a small coffee to-go for her way home, she hears him.
“Hello ma'am, am I interrupting you?” her eyes jolt up to him. He greets her with a gentle smile and a plate of cherry pie in his hand. Gasps are heard from the older men across the coffee shop, eyes glued to their different skin tones. The girl shakes her head, smiling back.
“May I sit down? I was thinking it would be best to share this slice of cherry pie with someone. Wondering if that someone could be you?”
She nods in agreement. “Yes, you may sit across from me.” she motions her hand to the empty seat at her table. He sets the plate down onto the tabletop and slides into his seat. She places her bag down by her chair. She looks up at him in amazement that someone like him can so confidently sit with her in public. She picks up a tiny silver fork from their plate.
“And no, you were not interrupting me.” her fork crushes into the pie, breaking off a tiny piece.
She takes a bite and points her fork.