All January Writing Workshop stories were written in 15 minutes, the writer inspired by the following prompt: “This coffee house is a castle of memories I’d like to forget with the barista playing his jester’s tune, the bitter coffee like hot oil from the keep while I sip my tea in solitude.”
I sulked in the back of the Starbucks, and I took another sip of tea.
Well, the tea was a green-tea latte, with no foam and 9 scoops of matcha, which I ordered mostly out of spite. I hadn’t visited this particular Starbucks in years, but for some reason I was drawn inexorably back to memories from my college years, when I was the barista, making green tea lattes for middle-aged women with too much time and money for endless rounds of fitness classes and … green-tea lattes, immaculately prepared.
“Nine scoops of matcha,” they would screech. “I said nine, not 8 not 7, oh, why even bother. Only so-and-so can make it properly anyway. You always mess it up. And I said NO FOAM.”
I couldn’t even remember so-and-so’s name anymore. Who was the barista who always made the drinks perfectly? Oh, it was FUCKING CARL. Carl, who had perfect hair and was the perfect barista and made the perfect drinks and always flirted with everyone and they liked it, and was not trying to support himself through school, he was—”
Oh, it didn’t matter. Surely, it didn’t matter anymore. The only reason you can even REMEMBER CARL’S NAME today is because you feel like a failure, and Carl always made you feel like a failure too.
I scooched back my chair and took another sip of the latte, rolling the liquid over my tongue and trying to decide whether or not I actually liked green-tea lattes. “No, not really,” I muttered aloud. Well, then why did you order this drink? “I think maybe it reminds me of successful people. You know, those people I don’t feel like right now?”
“Who are ya talking to?” my best friend said as she sat down in front of me. She saw my mug, full of matcha-goodness, and quirked an eyebrow. “That’s not the right color to be your usual.”
I tried to scrunch up my body in my chair so I would take up less space, but gave up after a moment of looking like a deranged contortionist, and sat cross-legged in the chair instead. Somehow the act of straightening in my chair made me feel more human. I decided to play up my feelings of petty spite and vindictiveness. “Who am I talking to?” I picked up my mug, spread my arms wide, and gestured to the heavens, before stabbing myself in the chest with my finger. “Ow. Who am I talking to? I’m talking to this sub-human creature you see before you right now! That’s who.”
My friend’s face crumpled in displeasure. “Oh, come on, you aren’t even drinking yet. You can’t possibly feel that much self-pity.”
“Oh, yes, I can!” I bragged, as if it were an accomplishment. Then I stopped talking and we stared at one another for a long moment.
“It wasn’t that bad—”
“Yes, it was—”
“No, it wasn’t—”
“Yes, I think it—
“This is stupid.”