Day 11: The woman/man across from you at the cafe or office–what did she or he dream last night?
It was eight am at the coffee shop around the corner from the office, of course, it was packed. The line snaked out the door with two head-bowed men in suits propping it open, absentmindedly scrolling through the day’s morning headlines. Oliver worked as quickly and efficiently as possible behind the counter, churning out latte after latte, and inwardly sighing whenever the occasional macchiato labeled cup passed his way. It was a standard Tuesday morning.
As he waited for milk to froth to the right consistency, he spotted Sara make her way steadily forward in the line, advancing within his line of site. She was a regular, arriving every morning between 8 and 8:30, but her orders were anything but. At first, having made the same non-fat vanilla latte for three days in a row, Oliver thought he had her figured out. She was standard suit, working in business, consulting, or law in the big city. That was until the day she came in, during the dead of winter, and ordered the sweetest frappe they had on the menu. Since then her order had always changed every few days or so.
The morning crew had started trying to guess her order after she had established her regular status. Some thought she chose her drinks based on the day of the week; some claimed the drink was tied to her hairstyle. Oliver had his own theory, but he would never share it. He knew that the others would tease him relentlessly about it whether or not he was right.
Oliver watched her in line when he could. Stealing glances between making drinks and taking note of where she looked, how she wore her hair, whether or not she was on her phone. Today, she wore simple leggings under a simple navy dress layered with a grey cardigan. Her hair was down, held back on one side with an inconspicuous clip. It would be tea today, likely a hot earl grey tea latte.
His theory was unique, though he felt it made a lot of sense. Sara, he thought, made her beverage choice based on how she had slept the night before. More specifically, he thought it was based on how she dreamed. Oliver was no psychoanalyst, he was a barista. A barista who, as his friends would say, took his drink making sometimes too seriously. But it all made made perfect sense to him. People needed some way of making beverage choices in the morning, whether it was preference or dietary restrictions. If you had neither, it would simply be mood. What better to shape you mood in the morning than your sleep?
So he never shared his dream theory, but he always got it right. He began to watch her in the mornings, taking mental notes. A poor nights sleep, either due to anxiety induced negative dreaming would mean she would order the blonde roast coffee, one of their stronger everyday brews. Oliver could tell because she would be more dressed up, her hair would be done, and she her visual focus would be on her phone. A particularly bizarre dream would mean some form a frappe, a good dream would translate into green tea.
Today, she looked…happy. Her eyes wandered around the coffee shop as if seeing it for the first time, her hands clasped behind her somewhat joyfully, and she had the look of a person who had begun her day recalling pleasant memories.
He wondered what she had dreamed about.
Oliver realized that what he was doing was no different from his coworkers. In the end they were all guessing and judging based on appearances. But he still felt he was different. A little voice in his head would tell him that was because he felt differently toward her. Oliver told that voice he was simply being a really good barista. Good barista that he was, he was not surprised when he picked up the next cup in line, and saw, “Earl Grey Latte” written on the side. He looked up and met her eyes. She smiled back at him, “Could you make it more on the dry side?”
He smiled back, “No problem.” She giggled as she moved along in the line to stand with the half dozen others waiting for their drinks.
He wondered if she had dreamed of vacation on the mediterranean, or if she had dreamed of perfectly moist cake at an afternoon tea party. He wondered if she dreamed of flying, and if so, if she gave herself wings in the dream or if she just sort of floated. He wondered if she dreamt of real places or crafted her own. He wondered if she dreamed of old love—
“Earl grey latte for Sara!” Oliver set her drink down at the bar. “Have a good day!”
Sara smiled at him as she left the coffee shop, waving as she went.
Most of all, he wondered if she dreamed of new love.
Skipped a couple because I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired with those prompts.
It seems pretty clear that I am not going to be doing 642 consecutive days of writing, though I have decided to keep the title of the series (or whatever this is) in order to give proper credit to the book by The San Francisco Writer’s Grotto.