Jason had always hated coffee. Even the sight of a coffee shop made him cringe. So the fact that his therapist Vivienne had decided to set up their first meeting at a Starbucks didn't exactly give off the best impression. Vivienne was an old scrawny woman with grey beady eyes that peered out at you from behind her round glasses. She wore a pale lilac cardigan (buttoned to the top, of course) & bright hot pink lipstick that had smeared on her front tooth.
"I'm so glad to finally meet you, Jason. I feel like your friend already." Jason wished he could say the feeling was mutual.
"I didn't want to have a therapist... my doctor forced me."
"But there's the trick! Don't think of me as a "therapist" – think of me as a best friend." Now there's a scary thought.
"Mrs. Fowler – Vivienne, if I may? You seem like a very nice lady with a magnificent tea collection & a wide array of exotic cats – but therapy isn't for me." At first, she was taken aback, a flicker of hurt & disgust flash in her eyes, but it was soon replaced with the annoying sympathetic look Jason had received too many times to count.
"I can only imagine what you're going through right now, but shutting people out & being mean-spirited won't get you anywhere." And with those words, she stood up, grabbed her purse & walked off.
Exasperated, Jason buried his face in his hands letting out a long sigh. The smell of coffee was nauseating him but he knew he needed to have breakfast. He stood up sluggishly and walked towards the counter. To his surprise, the employee was crouched down on the floor, hugging her knees tight into her chest.
"Um, hello?" Jason looked down at her, an eyebrow raised.
"Shh! Go away!"
"Just – hold up a second, alright?" Jason thought it would be best to listen to her. He waited a few seconds; staring at the odd girl sprawled on the floor. He followed her gaze and saw she was staring horrified at a tall lanky boy who was pacing back and forth. Suddenly, the boy sighed and walked out the door. Finally, she jumped up from the ground.
"What can I get you?" she peeped. Jason stared at her, bewildered.
"Uh –plain bagel… cream cheese."
"Coffee?" she asked. Jason cringed at the word.
"God, no." She looked up from the cash register, a bit perplexed. Jason sighed. He hated having to explain to people his hatred for coffee.
"I just don't like coffee, okay?"
"Fine by me. I don't like it either." She smiled and handed Jason his bagel.
"But you work at a Starbucks..."
"And you're ordering from a Starbucks."
"Touché." Jason slid over the $3.50 for the bagel and put a quarter in the tip jar.
"Wow, you shouldn't have." she shook her head, clasping her hand over her heart.
"Sarcasm is not appreciated." At this point both Jason and the girl were completely oblivious to the fact that a line has formed behind them.
"Let me just call the wah-mbulance."
"Wahmbulance? Really? That's the best you got? How old are we? Five?"
"Harry, Sally can we get a move on over here?" a rather large man in the back of the giant line that had formed behind Jason yelled out to them, throwing his fists up in the air angrily. Jason, a bit embarrassed offers the girl a quick smile before scurrying out of the coffee shop. As he stepped outside, the cold New York air hit him like a metal baseball bat. When had he become so sensitive to the cold? Was it around the time he got cancer? No, probably not. Ever since he was diagnosed with T-Cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia, Jason had become numb. Not only because he was suddenly freezing every time he stepped outside, but emotionally numb. He shut off all his relationships with friends, his family, co-workers, everybody. He quit his job, he broke up with his two-year girlfriend Mia, and he gave away his dog Gordo. Jason had accepted the fact that he was going to die in about one year, and he was going to make sure that he was completely and utterly alone when it happened.
So why hadn't he started walking away? It's as if his feet were magnetically glued to the ground below him. He'd usually sprint away from the scent of coffee, yet he was fixated. He had to do it. He had to. He didn't want to… but he had to. Before he could stop himself, Jason pushed the doors open and headed straight for the counter. He slammed his hands on the cash register, sending the girls eyes upwards in a jolt.
"Oh – hi again." She chirped.
"My names Jason." The words were coming out like vomit. What the hell was he doing?
"Rose." She smiled wearily, unsure of what to make of the situation.
"Hey buddy, there's a line!" the same man from before bellowed at the two of them. Jason ignored him completely.
"You work here every day?"
"I'll be working here again tomorrow… why?"
"I – I don't really know… I just… um…" Jason was beginning to lose the adrenaline rush, and his confidence was vanishing.
"My shift ends at six. Why don't you stop by?"
"Yeah, sure. Six. It's a date." Jason smiled. Rose's eyes widened. He quickly added,
"No! Not that I meant this is going to be a date. I – uh – you know, we just met. I'm not some creepy pedophile… not that you would think that! Why would you? I'm not old… okay; I'm going to leave now."
"That would be a good idea."
Jason gave her a weedy smile before patting the fat man on his back and walking away. Well, Jason… now you've done it, he thought to himself as he smacked his forehead against his car window.