Long dirty blond hair swirls behind her – the silhouette of her strong shoulders, tiny waist, and curvaceous hips leave an imprint in my plyable mind. I can't look away: I want to know her.
There is an orange van with a paisley garden painted along the doors. A long drawn-out car horn through the strings of a violin charm my ears. Finally, a bead of cold sweat drips from my brow to my cheek. It feels like a sweet kiss from her, but now I’m awake and she is gone.
The morning knows my routine: I hop in the brisk, awakening shower, clear my head and submit my expectations for the day. I get dressed in a plain navy dress and clean apron, bike to the café, and begin.
I arrived before the mailman, nearly before the sun. I open the latch of the steel picket gates, I step through the door, and delight in the aroma of cracked coffee beans and cinnamon. I brew the first pot of the day with a piece of lavender for clarity.
A shadow not yet seen forms behind my eyes – the chime of the door – ting ting - welcomes the first costumer. It’s Valerie, the sweet redhead from the flower shop across the road.
“Morning Lucy, are you brewing that Columbian blend again?” Valerie places her hat and sunglasses on a nearby table for two.
“Not today Val, it’s a french roast with lavendar,” I say as I reach for a mug.
A heavy vehicle rolls by over the storm grate.
“Ooooh that sounds lovely. I’ll take a blueberry scone too,” she points at the delicate rows of pastries behind the glass.
I bend to grab the scone with silver tongs.
Ting-ting – I lift my gaze.
A swirl of dirty blond hair tornados through the door. She places a violin case at the table behind Val.
I carry a large mug of coffee and a scone with butter to the table. My hand shivers spilling a drip of coffee to the floor.
“Here’s today’s blend my friend,” I say with a friendly tone as I wander past to the brazen blond stranger.
She looks at me - I’m wearing my hopes and dreams like a silk robe. Her brown eyes are soft and kind, like an old friend – yet timid – impatient, longing – maybe just young.
“What can I give you?” I stuttered, “I mean, what can I get for you?”
She smirks. We lock eyes. Oh – warmth in my chest.
“What do you recommend to keep me awake the longest?”
“Maybe a chocolate hazelnut mochaccino with a triple shot of espresso?” I was designing a perfect drink in my mind.
“That sounds satisfying,” the words came from her perfect mouth as she bit her lip.
Flustered – I went and began preparing the drink.
“Long drive ahead of you?” I looked to the camper van parked outside. She looked like a sleek convertible kind of lady not a bulky-hippy-bus love child with daisies in her hair.
“Maybe - I don’t know yet,” she glanced at her fingers.
“Interesting. Which direction are you headed?” I steamed some milk.
“I want to visit my aunt in Skookum Creek,” she pulled out a road map marked with X’s and O’s like a love letter to the terrain.
“You’ll have to head North to avoid the rockslides. You could get stuck in the passes overnight,” I insisted.
“Oh - I’d be fine, I have my van,” she looked past me. Was she afraid to make eye contact? Or was she somewhere else?
“You’ve got everything you need in there?”
“Just the most important things,”
I considered what the important things are. I guess it’s all very subjective.
“A bed? A fridge? A coffee maker?” I smiled.
“No coffee maker – I guess I’ll stop here on my way home,” her lips split into a soft grin.
“Where is home for you?” I asked. I was beginning to feel like an investigator: maybe I’d missed my calling.
“I don’t know yet,” her eyes sparkled: a bit of brown, a hint of green.
She seemed so quietly confident and sure she would land on her feet no matter how high she climbed.
“Doesn’t that scare you?” I poured the foam over the espresso and drizzled chocolate.
“Fear and excitement are only a thought apart,” she took a folded newspaper from the counter.
Oh, young van girl chasing your dreams – where will you end up?
I pondered the idea of this thrill-seeking quest – no – quest sounds like a search. She’s just got a heart full of wanderlust. .
“What are you hoping to find out there?” I love open ended questions that allow minds to go wherever they please.
“I’ll know when I see it,” she glanced at the front page. An open-ended answer – perfect - I thought. I’ll have to work harder if I’m going to play barista psychologist.
She sat squarely at the little round table and spread a road map across it. Curiosity made me step towards her to look over her route. Was I invading her adventures? She leaned back passively inviting me to observe.
I once dreamed of travelling in a similar way – then I got sick, and hung up with the monotony of life. Was owning the cafe the only thing tying me down and preventing travel? The neighbor lady said she was willing to watch my budgie, Mike. I guess I’m just making my own excuses to not do what I really want. She is doing exactly what she wants.
Wait. I don’t know this girl. Why do I assume this is exactly what she planned all along? Maybe she’s running away from something.
“I want to collect some ocean from Holligan Point,” she poked at a peak on the map. “I want to pick daisies in Montago fields,” she slid the tip of her finger to the right. She hesitated – sighed – and then let out an audible “oh no!”
“What’s the problem?” I was invested in my new fascination’s woes.
“I can do this alone, but I don’t want to.”
None of us really do.
Her eyes met mine. I made a phone call.
Long dirty blond hair swirls behind her. I honk the horn of the orange van.
“Put down your violin! Let’s hit the road.”