It was just another spring day. Pearl had her hands shoved in her pockets as she walked along. The trees were blooming, birds were chirping, and bees were flying from flower to flower. A light breeze brought the scent of freshly blooming flowers, and the sun shined down, already warming the nights chill. She was on her way to class, but she enough time, so she walked into the coffee shop that she passed every morning.
It was like walking into a different reality. No longer was the gentle warmth of the morning sun was gone, replaced by an encompassing heat in the shop. There was a small line, but these always moved quickly, so she stood. The bell above the door chimed not long after, and she turned to see who had entered behind her.
A short, brown skinned woman with hair the palest shade of purple Pearl had ever seen walked though the door. Despite the slight chill in the air, the woman didn’t have anything covering her arms, wearing only what appeared to be two layers of tank tops. She stood behind Pearl and looked around the coffee shop with a sigh. Then she spoke. “So uh, you want a picture?”
“Hm? Oh, I’m sorry.” Pearl felt her cheeks warm. “I guess I was just studying your character.” She looked away, turning toward the menu.
“What does that mean?” Pearl turned and looked at the woman again. From this close, she could see dark roots starting to grow out. Her forehead was wrinkled in confusion.
The line moved forward. “I’m taking a creative writing class at the behest of my…friend.” She cleared her throat, looking again toward the menu. “I’m not sure why I let her talk me into it. She’s just hard to say no to. We’re studying character creation and how to make a good character, and I was trying to describe you as I would in a story.”
Pearl wasn’t sure what to expect at her explanation, but a grin wasn’t even in the ballpark. The woman’s eyes widened in excitement. “What’d ya come up with?”
Someone behind them cleared their throat, and Pearl looked forward to see the line had moved again, and it was her turn to order. She took a deep breath, eyes latching onto the menu board as she rattled off her order. “I need a tall latte, no flavoring please, skinny, and just…just the milk and espresso. I don’t really know what goes in these. The name is Pearl.” She smiled at the barista as she handed him her cash, dropping what change he handed her in the tip jar as she walked over and waited for her drink.
It was made quickly and Pearl was out the door before the woman could ask for her description again. Honestly, what could she have said? The woman walking through the doorway was beautiful. The sun fell over her, giving her an ethereal beauty and—
“Pearl!” Someone was calling her name. She stopped, looking around, before she saw the woman running toward her again. “Yo, Pearl wait up!” The woman was clutching her own frappuccino in her hand as she caught up, breathing heavily. “Don’t…don’t drink that.”
She looked down at her latte. “Why not?”
The woman cleared her throat. “The idiot that took your order said they made it with…everything. Something about ‘skinny girls needing to realize they don’t need to loose weight’ or something.”
Pearl looked back at her latte with a frown. “Thank you…” she trailed off, realizing she never learned the woman’s name.
“Amethyst.” Pearl smiled. “I’ll go make sure this is right. I appreciate you telling me.”
Pearl turned back toward the coffee shop, surprised when Amethyst fell back into step with her.
“You know, they are right though. You look perfect, you don’t need to get rid of all the good stuff.” Amethyst was sipping away at her own sugar-filled drink.
Pearl nodded. “It has nothing to do with my figure. I have some severe food intolerances. Nut allergies, lactose issues. Honestly, I’m pushing it even drinking the ‘skinny’ version.” She used the fingers on her one free hand to made air quotes around the word skinny. “If I had even drank half of this, I would have not been able to eat for the rest of the day.”
“Dang, that sucks.” Amethyst looked at her own drink. “I’m sorry.”
Pearl shrugged. “It’s okay. These things happen.”
They reached the coffee house, and Pearl lead the way to the front of the line. A few people grumpled, but she didn’t listen. The same person was still taking orders, so she sat the cup down and looked at them expectantly. He swallowed and his eyes widened before he schooled his features. “I’m sorry, you need to go to the back of the line.”
“I don’t think so,” she said.
A woman, looking about middle age, walked over. “Is everything okay?” Pearl noticed her glance to the line behind her.
“No, I’m afraid not. “I ordered my latte, skinny, with nothing but the milk and espresso.”
The woman nodded. “Okay.”
“That was not what I received. I would like it remade, please.” With a sigh, she took Pearl’s old drink and handed it to the order taker.
“How do you know that isn’t what you recived?” The woman asked. She watched as he made the new one.
“My friend here,” she said, gesturing to Amethyst, “heard him bragging about it once I’d left the store.”
The woman breathed out through her nose. “I’m sorry. Would you like a refund?”
Pearl shook her head. “I really just want my coffee.”
The woman smiled and took the drink the instant it was completed, delivering it to Pearl. “Again, we’re sorry.”
“Thank you,” she said.
With that, Pearl and Amethyst turned and walked out of the coffee shop. “Well, that was fun,” Amethyst said. “What are you doing now?”
“Going to class,” Pearl said.
“But you just had a near death experience! That has to count as a skip. Let’s go hang out.”
Pearl, her latte warm in her hand, and the sun once again shining down, relented. “Okay. I know this wonderful little cherry tree we can sit under.”