* * *
I saw her.
I saw her as I did every workday morning. She had become my internal sunshine and the best motivation to get me to work on time.
I did my best to be casual, trying not to gawk or stare. It's hard for me to hide my feelings once they sprout.
Did she ever see me?
The radiance of her smile scans past me. Did it stop if but for a moment and acknowledge my presence as more than just a placeholder in the long line of jostling customers seeking their fix of burnt coffee?
I smiled back as usual, praying for some favor, for just the chance to be more. She paid no notice until I stood directly in front of her. I feared my grin would show the truth behind it, the strain to contain my delight that sought to reach out and encircle her with my ardor.
She acted different today. She cocked her head as if I'd posed a question, one requiring an immediate response. Her pleasant manner and charm never ceased, and unlike my heart, never skipped a beat.
"Grande, right?" she drew me in with the deepest blue eyes I'd ever encountered. I was swimming in them and could only manage a clumsy nod. Oh how I loved to see the early morning sunlight seek her out, sneaking through the louvered window shades, slanting golden illuminating her with angelic glow about her shoulder-length flaxen hair falling straight, framing her delicious fresh face.
The sweetness of her essence cradled my order. I should say her order. I never could finish such a large cup of coffee before it went cold. She must've assumed a hyper-guy like me needed the extra caffeine to keep me pumped.
She doesn't know me. Would she if she saw me as I do her?
Our eyes locked together for the first time. I trembled at the thought of asking her out, but I did not even know her name. She never wore a name tag.
"Hey Cath, there's other folks in that line. Step it up," her supervisor said. His glare at me said to back off.
I did not blanch. He did not own her and at that moment I did not care about him, about the coffee, or the pushy people getting mouthy behind me. Screw them and their travel mugs they so piously clung to... I was talking to the girl of my dreams, the captor of my heart. I was talking to Cathie.
"That will be $2.50 please," her voice shattered my reverie.
Now it was my turn to cock my head.
"$2.50, doesn't a Grande cost $4.50?
I sensed an added warmth in her smile.
"Frequent customer point's just saved you two bucks."
Enthralled, I continued to stand there and I would have forever if the burly guy behind me hadn't pushed me and said, "Buddy, pay the girl and get the hell outta the line. I gotta get to work and I need my joe too."
His complaint was echoed in the chorus behind us. I snapped to and paid her.
Our fingertips brushed ever so slightly, a surge of possibility fluxed up my arm and tickled my brain stem. Cathie handed me back my change along with a new frequent customer's card.
I slapped the change on the counter. "Apply it to this guy's bill for his aggravation. I'll see you tomorrow."
I swore she winked as she smiled goodbye. The impatient guy turned away, probably embarrassed at my generosity in the light of his rudeness.
I strode out feeling much more alive than the mass of extras for a zombie movie lolling around waiting for their fix.
While standing waiting for the 7:20 A.M. city bus, I pulled out the new Coffee Rewards card Cathie handed me. I knew my old card was short a few punch holes and yet she gave me both the discount and a new card. I turned it over and almost dropped my steaming hot Grande because I instinctively wanted to grab it with both hands like it was a winning lottery ticket.
There, written in delicate feminine swirls, was her name... and more importantly, her telephone number.
She saw me.
* * *