She slumped in her seat, plainly showing her reluctance. Not that he noticed, her was too busy rambling on and on for who knows how long about…she wasn’t exactly sure. She had stopped paying attention after she had gotten into his car, and stepped on a sticky pile of squish.
“Ugh, what is this?” she asked, thoroughly disgusted.
“Oh…that’s, uh, actually, here’s a napkin”, in which he proceeded to lean ALL the way over and use the napkin to scoop up whatever it was. Thinking back to when it happened a few minutes ago, she was glad he hadn’t told her. Right now, her opinion of him couldn’t stand to get much lower before she started to avoid him completely. That’s actually what she had been doing up until that day, but thanks to some certain friends of hers, she was in the car with the very person she had been trying to avoid for a week and a half. She wasn’t even sure if she noticed that she’d been ignoring him lately, given the way he went on and on for an interminable amount of time about absolutely nothing of interest.
“Here we are!” he exclaimed, again too cheerily.
“Yup.” She said, gingerly stepping out of the car. She was tremendously glad, for once, that Starbucks was so close to her house. At first, she had complained because that meant her mom could come pick her up virtually whenever she wanted. She smiled grimly at how long she had complained and threatened to email headquarters. She offered up a silent prayer of thanks as she opened the door and walked into the building.
This was her absolute most favorite place to go. It was always warm inside…not the warm that made you take off every layer of clothing you had on, though. It was the kind that made you take off your jacket, but keep your gloves and sweater on. The kind that made you hug yourself, not because you were cold, but because it made you feel so welcome. There always seemed to be a forever lingering smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and she suspected it would be there, even the gutted the place out and turned it into an office building. She paused at the entrance, faintly smiling, until she heard the struggle of dragging boots behind her. Refraining herself from rolling her eyes, she turned around and pushed the door open for him. It almost hit him directly in the face, so he blinked a few times in surprise, but he came in quickly and flashed her and apologetic but grateful grin. This time, she did roll her eyes. She could tell from his slightly hurt look that he had seen, but she didn’t care.
“I’d like the White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha with extra chocolate chips on top, please.” Glancing over in his direction, she asked “You getting anything?”
“Oh, right. Uhm…I’ll get whatever she’s having.”
The cashier rang up the two orders and replied, “That’d be $7.06.”
The cashier was looking at her, but she looked at him. If she was going to suffer through this, she decided, she might as well get something out of it.
“I left my wallet at home. Do you have any cash?”
He looked at her blankly for a second, then, realizing what she was saying, stuttered “O-oh…uh, yeah. Um…” He then proceeded to check every single pocket he had on his body. After he gave up looking in all his front pockets (which consisted of his shirt pocket, his sweater pockets, his front jean pockets, and his jacket pockets) and started searching the back ones, she audibly sighed and said, “I’m going to go sit down now.” Without waiting for an answer, she turned on her heel and left.
From her little hidden corner towards the side, she heard the cashier say “Woah. Dude. What’d you do to her?” He then proceeded to shrug pathetically and whisper something in the cashier’s ear. After he leaned back, they both nodded grimly at each other. After another second or two of searching, he finally found a ten dollar bill, and handed it over. By that time, the drinks had been ready for about a minute, and he walked over holding the drinks, his change, and the receipt.
“Thanks.” she said, hurriedly taking it from his hand before he could sit down. He stared at her for a moment, and then sighed a little. As he sat down with a heave, he seemed to age a little. She could see that the circles under his eyes were a little dark, like he hadn’t had much sleep. She noticed that he smelled good too…she recognized that the smell was the same as her dad’s cologne. She glanced him over, and also saw that he was dressed a little nicer than usual. Notwithstanding her early feelings of rejection, she whispered a small thank you as she continued to sip her drink. He smiled blankly in her direction, but she could tell he was turning something over in his mind. She sat there, a little uncomfortably as she knew what she was about to face was inevitable. She knew what was coming. She knew all the trouble it would cause and the betrayal that would be felt…but how could she say no? She could be cold and cold shouldered, when she needed to be (she didn’t, however, prefer to go to measures as drastic as this), but she couldn’t just flat out say no. She had nothing against him. She liked him. She just couldn’t…
He looked over at her for a moment, just to watch to see what she was doing at him. She gave him a little smile, and he grinned a little. Relieved that he wasn’t too upset with her for being so terrible, she ventured to ask, “You ever gonna drink that?” She pointed to the drink he had been toying with for minutes. “It’s probably cold by now.”
He glanced at her, then looked down looking embarrassed.
“Well, I’m kinda allergic to spearmint…”
She nearly choked on her drink. Carl? Allergic?
“But there isn’t any spearmint in here. Just a bunch of chocolate and peppermint.”
“Well, peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint. My grandpa was allergic to it too. Guess he just passed it on to me…”
She started to giggle. She wasn’t exactly sure, because it wasn’t funny. At all. Maybe it was just the fact that big ‘ol strong, blond hair, dark eyed Carl was allergic to something…
Her giggle quickly turned into full-on laughter, which turned into snorts, which turned into breathless gasps. She shouldn’t have been laughing, she knew, but there were tears streaming down her face because she was laughing so hard.
He looked incredibly confused at first, but her laugh must’ve been too funny to not be contagious, so he eventually joined her in her laughter. They were both doubled over in laughter when her mom and sister burst into the building. She quickly brushed the tears from her eyes, but every time she glanced over at Carl, she giggled non-stop.
“Hey….guys”, her mom said, looking overwhelmingly confused. Her mom knew she was ignoring him, so, she imagined, they must look ridiculous. She quickly got up, and said “Yup, here we are!” She accidentally glanced over at him and started giggling again.
“Yeah…so….are you ready to go home now? Or…?” Her mom glanced over at Carl, glanced back at her, and raised her eyebrows in question.
“Yup, I think we’re done.” She turned back to look at him.
“Thanks for the drink…it was awesome. See you tomorrow?” He was about to say sure, when he realized that tomorrow wasn’t a school day. A smile slowly spread over his face as he said sure and jumped up to say good bye.
“Well then, see you tomorrow.”
As she walked out the door, the last thing she saw was Carl and the cashier leaning over the counter, talking about something, and watching her leave in pure awe.