She stood at the counter, staring at the barista. “The normal, please,” she murmured, her voice low and husky.
“I’m sorry,” the girl blathered. “I’m new here, and I don’t know—“
“Zee!” called a man. “You’re late, today. I was getting worried!”
“The normal, please,” she repeated, her face passive.
“Got it right here for you.” The man passed a tray of four hot drinks to her. The woman paid, nodded thanks, and left.
In her wake a very befuddled barista barraged her coworker with questions: “Was that a man or a woman?”
“You know, I still don’t know,” he laughed, getting started on the next order. “But I’m pretty sure I saw cleavage, so I’m going with “she” today.”
“How long has…she’d been coming here?”
“Hm,” he teased. “A little less than three years?”
“She acted like she didn’t know you!”
“I think you’d have some trouble remembering a few things if you had a scar like hers, too.”
They both looked towards the large widows where they could still see their previous customer standing, using her cell phone. She wore fashionable, square sun glasses to set off her masculine features. She must have worked in an office nearby because she wore professional black slacks, heels, and a sleeveless snake skin blouse (making her look positively exotic). Her scar, though, was repulsive and disgusting. The bitter flavor of pity seeped onto the barista’s tongue.
“What’s ‘the normal’?”
The man laughed. “Oh, no you don’t. She’s my customer. Go find your own!”
Azmarie flicked through her reminders on her phone, checking off her latest accomplishment, “2:30—Crash: two black coffees, a mocha with soy, and Chai tea.” Her next one said, “3:10—deliver two black coffees, a mocha with soy. Enjoy Chai tea.” Nodding, she strutted down the street to her work. A few moments later, she stared at a store front with a poster of a woman plastered over it. That woman was her. Though, she didn’t feel like the strong, smiling woman was her. Today was a bad day for her. Her head. It couldn’t be attached to her neck. It felt like she was dribbling it down the sidewalk. Did she know how to dribble? No, she never had the best hand eye coordination. That’s why she ran. Despite her aching head, she just wanted to run today. Run and never stop because then maybe she could run away…run away from what?
Azmarie was in front of the building, now. There was no running away. She passed security with ease, her badge indicated her clearance. She handed off the mocha with soy to the current guard. Whether or not he was the guard who was there every day, or if he really liked mocha with soy, he made no indication. He just smiled. She took the elevator half way to her floor, and then walked the rest. It helped fight the urge to sprint. The stairwell echoed. It was empty. Azmarie wasn’t sure if she liked that or not. It felt like her head. It felt like her heart. She reached the door just before she lost herself any further. The heavy, fire proof steel was cold. It grounded her to the present. She needed to deliver the two coffees. She wanted to enjoy her cup of Chai.
Her sunglasses swung between her fingers. A few people greeted her. Azmaire glanced at them and tried to smile, but it was more of a curious upturn on one side of her face that seemed to ask, “How in the world do you know me because you seem awfully familiar?” She walked the maze cubicles and file cabinets until she honed in on the finish line. A short woman blocked it. Azmarie might be tall, but that woman was defiantly short. She felt a light, bubbly feeling in her chest. She wanted to laugh. She didn’t. She knew that woman. Had seen her too often not to have, but like most faces a name failed to sort itself in her head. So she settled with “R.B” for “Red Bun.” That’s what Doc, her psychiatrist, taught her to do. “If you can’t remember their name, make up your own. People probably won’t even notice.” She wondered if he noticed she couldn’t remember his?
She saw a man. She didn’t know that man. And she didn’t mean it in the way that she did with the rest of the people who worked here. She meant it in the way that she did not know that man. He was a stranger. Azmarie didn’t work well with strangers. Her phone vibrated. It was her alarm to deliver the first coffee. She was delivering the coffee to a woman. A woman with a horn, ears on animals she’s only seen when running trails, and scales. That still made her a woman, right? Azmarie knew her name. It started with a “K.” She thought it amazing she remembered that much, so she enjoyed calling the woman “Kay.” She wasn’t sure if the woman liked being called that though. Kay liked coffee, though, which is why she got one at 3:10, Monday through Friday.
But it would be late today, because it seemed as if two people were in the way. So she hovered just beyond the desk area. Her eyes shifting around while waiting to be acknowledged. The rest of her body was frozen like the cat on the wall with the clock on its belly. It was 3:12.