Rm w/a Vu(7)

By: A. D. Ryan

“Hey, Juliette!” Katie greets excitedly as I enter the cafe. She’s busy wiping down the counter as I toss my bag onto an empty chair and make my way to her. “I thought you weren’t supposed to work until later?”

Katie and I went to high school together. We weren’t best friends by any means, but we hung out on occasion. She was a sweet girl and fun to work with. She chose to go to Paradise Valley Community College here in Phoenix and still lives with her mom, so unfortunately she isn’t an option to bunk with. I would gladly room with her if I could.

“I had to get out of that house,” I confess, popping behind the counter to pour myself a coffee and grab a muffin.

Katie looks at me with empathy because she’s been listening to me gripe about my parents’ lapin-esque activities. “Still no news on a new dorm, huh?” Thankfully, she’s not one to talk about my reason for escaping my parents almost daily.

I shake my head. “Nah. Daphne tells me that because it’s so late in the year, the chance of something opening up is unlikely. And people in private dorms aren’t usually looking to take on a dorm mate.”

I’m putting cream and sugar into my coffee when Katie turns to me, leaning her hip against the low counter that our espresso machine is on. “Ben stopped by last night.”

“I hope you spit in whatever froufrou drink he ordered.”

“Thought about it,” Katie tells me with an impish smirk. “Instead, I told him you were out on a date.”

I sputter on the sip of coffee I’ve just taken, coughing as the piping hot beverage burns my trachea. “You did what?”

Katie looks pretty damn proud of herself. “He looked pretty pissed too. He kept asking who it was and where you’d gone.”

Wiping at my chin with a napkin, I ask, “And what did you say?”

“That it was just some guy you met. That pissed him off even more.” I didn’t think her smile could get any wider, but it does.

“While I’m not sure angering him is a wise decision,” I say, “I have to admit, the idea of him being jealous is quite appealing.”

The chimes above the door ring, and I turn quickly, thinking that maybe Ben has decided to stop by again. I’m happy to see it’s not him, just a group of students coming in early on a Saturday morning for coffee and breakfast. Picking up my own muffin and coffee mug, I leave Katie to her work while I go to the table I’ve claimed and pull out my laptop to start that paper I told Mom I needed to do.

As always, I become so immersed in my schoolwork that nothing else seems to register. Katie is awesome about making sure I’m not interrupted and keeps my coffee cup full. She brings me a ham sandwich, even though I haven’t asked for it, because she knows I’ll need to eat before I start my shift.

I acknowledge her with a smile before pulling the plate toward me. “Thanks.” I take a bite and then notice the folded paper under her arm. I chew slower as I stare at the mangled paper, and I suddenly realize that my parents’ place isn’t a last resort. “Hey, you mind if I take that?”

Katie looks down at it and shrugs. “Knock yourself out. Mind if I ask why?”

I set my sandwich back down and brush the crumbs from my fingertips before taking the outstretched paper and opening it to the last page. “Because I’m going to find a place where people aren’t having sex all the time.”

“The classifieds?” Katie seems a little apprehensive about my plan. She wouldn’t be if she had to live with what I currently am.

Wishing me luck, Katie heads back to work, and I peruse the multiple ads. I don’t get to look them over very long, just long enough to circle the first three that catch my eye, before I note the time and pack everything up into my bag so I can start my shift. As soon as I clock in, Katie takes her break, leaving me with three customers in line.

The routine is the same, save for the order the drinks come in, and in the first hour I’ve probably made five frappuccinos, ten espressos (three of which were doubles), six cappuccinos, and twelve lattes. All different flavors, so that keeps me on my toes.

Katie comes back from her break as soon as the crowd thins, because that’s how it always happens, so we spend the next little bit cleaning up the back counter and stocking everything we’ll need for the dinner rush. As we do, Katie starts talking about her boyfriend and how they are planning to take a trip to Jamaica as soon as school lets out.

Hearing her talk about her rock solid relationship only serves to remind me of my failed one. I’m happy for her, sure, but it does little to offer me any solace. While I’m in no way ready to date, just knowing that it is possible to be in a happy, committed relationship kind of bums me out. I mean, even my parents are in that mid-life, 24/7, I-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you stage. How depressing is that? I’m in college. Shouldn’t I be going to parties and hooking up with guys at random?

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