🌹 Rose - part 01

Rose stepped through the coffee shop’s front door, letting its light, wooden frame bounce against the jamb behind her. She looked around, seeing about a dozen customers sipping drinks or tapping away on laptops, oblivious to her presence. Relieved that the place wasn’t completely packed, she stepped off to one side towards her favourite spot by the window.

She unfurled her silk, pearlescent scarf with one hand while she placed her small, leather backpack down on the chair that she had occupied so many times this year. The movement was so automatic and smooth by this point that she barely registered it, instead focusing on the drink menu that hung on a wire behind the counter.

A faded black tablet composed with artfully-spaced, plastic white letters, the menu reminded her of the monolithic refrigerator her aunt had in her big, suburban kitchen. It was always cluttered with magnetic letters that Rose’s little cousins would keep hiding on each other, until one of them inevitably cried out of frustration. When Rose first moved to Canada from Hong Kong, she’d sometimes use those letters to practise her English spelling.

She hung her jacket on the back of the chair, grabbed her small wallet out of her backpack, and stepped towards the counter behind another customer — a tall man with stylishly cropped, grey hair, a thin frame, and an extremely fashionable, short jacket. Rose liked that this cafe always had interesting-looking customers; it made the long waits easier.

Sometimes, the people who would become her clients took forever to show up. They’d usually blame it on the city’s beleaguered transit system or the weather. Sometimes, even on a sunny day, they wouldn’t show up at all.

The grey-haired man stepped away with a paper take-out cup and Rose swore to herself: no coffee today. She needed something with less caffeine — for real, this time.

Tonight, I can’t screw up again. I have a lot to do while I’m sleeping.