The Girl

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She looks broken, the girl framed in the coffee shop window.

Woman really… but there’s something about her slight frame and the air of vulnerability that shrouds her that makes me think of her as a girl. Always friendly when she orders her drink, but I’ve noticed that her smile never quite reaches her eyes.

Those eyes! Deep green, with tiny brown flecks, and long dark lashes contrasting with her porcelain skin. I see the pain in them and want to know what’s causing it. I want to fix it.

I watch her as she sits at the small table, lost in herself, using her spoon to play with the foam on her latte. The blue circles beneath her eyes look darker today, her cheeks more hollow than last week. I suspect she isn’t sleeping well or eating much.

I know her name is Tracy, thanks to Head Office’s stupid policy of writing the customers name on the takeout cup. Even though she always sips her drink inside, I pretended to mistake her order once and asked for her name. I remember her surprise, the way her eyes opened wider and the tilt of her head, the tiny crease between her eyebrows as she answered me, “Um, Tracy… why?”

“Pretty name! Sorry, I thought you wanted takeout, my mistake,” I replied grinning like a fool.

“Ah… well now you know…” she leaned in to read my nametag, “Jack,” and smiled. A real smile that time. Fleeting, but real.

She checks her phone, mouth downturned and sighs.

Screw it’, I think and put a chocolate chip muffin on a plate, grab a fork and napkin, walk over to her table, and I place it in front of her.

“On the house. You’re a regular, you deserve a freebie,” I say.

“Oh! Um…” her mouth drops in surprise and she looks flustered momentarily and I see the tears pooling in those eyes that have captivated me from day one.

“Shit! What’s wrong? Tracy?” I panic and sit across from her, watching her try to gather herself together, “Are you ok? Tracy?”

She sniffs and blinks the tears away, not allowing them to spill down onto her cheeks, “I’m ok, I mean I will be. Sorry for that… I just… That was kind of you and I sort of can’t cope with kindness right now, you know?”

I nod, “Yeah, I get that. Anything I can help with? I know we don’t really know each other, but I’m a good listener.”

Her eyes search mine and I see her consider my offer. I see her struggle with the desire to unburden herself and her need for privacy.

“Thank you, but no. Talking won’t fix it. I just need to get over it.”

“It?” inwardly cursing myself for overstepping, but it slipped out before I could stop myself.

“Him…”   /   “Sorry, none of my business.”

We both speak at the same time, talking over each other.

“Oh! A guy, I should’ve guessed…” I reply, feeling my gut twist with jealousy that she loves someone. Irrational and stupid, but I want her to be mine.

She nods her head and looks down, “I better get going. Thanks for the muffin, but I’ve no appetite. And, thanks for caring…” she stands and picks up her bag. I mumble a goodbye and watch her leave.

I wonder if she will come back next week. I wonder if her heart will mend and if I can ever have a chance with her.

Maybe I should be grateful to the idiot that broke her heart? At least in time, she might, one day, look at me and see more than just a barista.

 –

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