My short story, “Speak,” as seen in The Elixir.

The door chimed as she walked in, the sound almost lost amongst the gurgle of the espresso machine, the whir of whipped cream, and the chatter of caffeinated customers.

“Hi! Welcome to Starbucks,” he said brightly. Geez chill out—you’ll scare her off.

She smiled slightly. Hello, Jim.

“Would you like to try our new Pumpkin Spice Latte? It’s a seasonal favorite,” he said quickly. Slow down, stupid.

She shook her head. That sounds yummy, but I’m a creature of habit.

“The usual then? White chocolate mocha?” Say something that’s not coffee jargon, moron.

She nodded. You remembered.

Keep her talking or, well, sort of talking. “Do you want non-fat, soy, or regular milk?” Oh for the love of—now she thinks I think she’s fat.

“Regular’s fine,” she replied quietly. A mouse is louder than you, Cass.

“Do you want a grande or a venti? You look like you could use a pick me up.” Oh god, now she thinks I think she looks tired.

She inclined her head in agreement, reaching into her purse for her wallet. You’re right, I’ve been a little stressed lately and I could use some extra umph.

“Okay, well if you’re really looking for some kick you could add a shot of espresso.” She doesn’t like you—if she liked you she’d’ve said more than two words to you by now. I’ve been working here for like two months…

She scrunched up her nose. Oh, no thanks, it makes it taste like straight black coffee.

“Do you want whipped cream?” She’s so cute when she does that thing with her nose.

She nodded. Oh yes, I’m a glutton for whipped cream.

“Do you want some drizzle? Mocha? Caramel, maybe?” Calm down, spaz.

She shrugged. Surprise me.

A man with peppered gray hair in a navy pinstriped suit grunted impatiently. These two are ridiculous! Just exchange numbers and let me order my damn coffee.

“Okay, so a regular venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream and mystery drizzle,” he said with a wink. Oh no, she’s gonna think I’m a sleaze. “Will that be all?”

She moved over to the bakery counter and pointed at a Cream Cheese Danish. This please.

“One cream cheese Danish coming right up.” That’s my favorite, too. “Is that all?”

She nodded. Looks like I’ve missed my chance again…

“That comes to $5.67.” I hope she doesn’t notice I gave her my discount—it’ll probably weird her out.

She grabbed a ten dollar bill and passed it to him. $5.67? That doesn’t seem right…

“Alright, your change is $4.33.” Ugh, you blew your chance again…

How hard it would it be to say, “Thank you?” She took the money and moved to the end of the counter, tossing it in the tip jar. Maybe she’d finally speak to him next time.

The other baristas were busily mixing and pouring and drizzling and calling out names: “Caleb,” “Ann,” “Nikki.”

“Cass,” called a pretty barista. The girl playfully bumped her hip with Jim’s on the way back over to the syrup station.

They’re probably dating or something…

She looked down at the cup and noticed writing peeking out from under the sleeve. She slid the cardboard down and read: “For the girl with the lovely green eyes.”

Not next time. Today.

She walked over to the cash register and said hesitantly, “J-jim?”


via Speak

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