Creative Nonfiction Sad Speculative

Coffee or Tea

By Farrah Leone

“Hey” Michael flashed his white smile and peered around the door frame of their office. “I brought you something”. He held up two Starbucks cups.

Sarah blushed.

“Awe, how cute!” Tiffany chuckled.

“Thank you.” Sarah stood up from her desk, went on her tippy toes to kiss his stubbled cheek. 

She took the cup he gestured towards her. 

“What’d you get, Michael?” Tiffany asked.

“Latte with Oatmilk and a dash of cinnamon with a shot of espresso.”

“An extra shot of espresso? Someone is going to be bouncing off of the walls later,” Sarah nudged him.

“I just have to finish putting that presentation together and need a boost.”

“Well I know that the Moore firm is going to love it.” Sarah put her hand on his shoulder and beamed. 

“Thank you baby. I have to run though, bye girls!”

“Bye!” Tiffany said, smiling up from her computer screen.

Sarah had a spring in her step and snuggled back into her chair with both hands wrapped around her treat. She brought the cup up to her lips but puckered. Her eyes squinted as if she was trying to read something just a little out of sight. 

“What? Is the milk bad?” Tiffany asked.

“No, no. It’s just…not what I expected.”

“‘What’s wrong?”

“It’s tea. I expected coffee, I guess.”

“Do you not like tea?”

“I do. I don’t have it often but I’ll drink it.”

“Maybe it’s the wrong order.” Tiffany shrugged and raised her hands.

Sarah twisted the cup in her hands and saw ‘Michael’ scribbled across the white cup.

“It says his name.”

“There’s a million Michael’s. Let me see.”

Tiffany stood up and walked to her desk. Raising the order sticker to eye level she saw the order sticker.







She slowly placed it down. 

“Hm.” Tiffany remarked and turned back to her desk.

Sarah grabbed the cup and turned the label towards her. 

“So he did order me a tea.”

“Seems like it.” Tiffany held her hands together with a small sigh.

Sarah’s eyes scanned the ceiling looking for an answer in the cracks.

“Is it at least good?”

“It’s fine. Just normal, plain, tea.” Sarah took a quick sip. “Needs sugar”.

Tiffany tossed her a sugar packet from her desk.

“Thank you.”

Tiffany gave a nod and went back to staring at her screen. Sarah tried to focus on her paperwork but her eyes kept glancing back to the sticker, “REG TEA”.

Several seconds passed until Tiffany asked:

“Did you maybe say something about tea that made him order it?” Her head tilted to the side inquisitively.

Sarah furrowed her brow as if it was going to help squeeze the answer out of her memory. “I don’t think so,” she answered and pulled her sleeves over her hands.

Tiffany let the question sit for a few more seconds.

“Does he like tea?”

“Not particularly.”

The two of them were silent. Tiffany locked eyes with Sarah who looked away like a puppy who just peed in the house. 

“I mean, I’m grateful for the tea.”

“I didn’t say you weren’t. I know you are.”

Sarah looked at the steam coming from the sip hole.

“I’ll make it taste good. Can you toss me another sugar?”

Tiffany pulled out a sugar packet and let it sit in her hand. “Sah, you know how much sugar Starbucks puts in those drinks? You’re going to get diabetes,” Tiffany joked. She tossed her the packet which slipped directly through Sarah’s hands.

“I only put one packet in.”

“Your heart is going to explode.”

Sarah ripped the package open, took the lid off, and stared at the cup. 

“Are you reconsidering your blood sugar levels?” Tiffany laughed.

Sarah put the full, open package of sugar down on her desk and took another sip.She smacked her tongue to reassure herself that Michael actually added nothing to the tea.

“I don’t think there’s anything in here besides tea.”

“Like it’s basically plain water?”

Sarah nodded.

Tiffany got up and looked into the cup herself. There was her reflection only to be interrupted by that small sugar pile Sarah added.

Tiffany pushed her lips together and reconsidered.

Sarah turned her palms open, “That’s fine I can add anything I want now.”

“Yeah I guess. We only have sugar though.”

Tiffany started again, “I mean you could tell him you want the tea differently next time.”

“Maybe. I don’t want him to be upset because I don’t appreciate it. He’s sensitive sometimes.”

“But you saying you want tea a certain way or don’t want tea at all has got nothing to do him.” 

“I don’t know. He’ll take it personally. Like he can’t satisfy me.”

“Who would be satisfied with that though? I don’t think you’re crazy.”

Sarah tried to hide her small frown with positivity. “And…it was so nice he thought of me.”

“Did he really think of you though?” Tiffany squinted.

“Well yeah, he bought it for me and dropped it off.”

Tiffany nodded and reclined in her chair. 

Sarah blankly stared at her work and couldn’t read a thing.

“It doesn’t mean anything, right?” Sarah wished for reassurance and did not receive it.

“Does it mean something to you?” Tiffany nudged her chair forward.

“We’re not fighting or anything. And it was nice of him to do.” She leaned her head on her left wrist and stared at the paperwork.

“But it’s just not what you expected. Or would have wanted?”


“You’re allowed to not like things.”

“But I do like it occasionally, just not as much as coffee…I’m sorry I have to be more grateful.”

“Don’t apologize. Why do you think you’re not grateful?”

“Because I’m complaining.”

“No you’re not. You’re just confused.”

“It doesn’t make me feel good.”

“Well plain tea doesn’t make anyone feel good.”

“He did go out of his way to stop here.”

“Sah, we’re the first office. Everyone passes us.”

Sarah looked away and placed her hands in her lap. The two got quiet.

Tiffany looked down and lightened her tone, “I’m sorry if I made you upset”.

“You didn’t,” she responded still looking down. “The tea did.”

“That’s okay, it’s just not the drink for you.”

“...I can like tea. I just need a bit more of something.”

“I’m sure you can tolerate and appreciate tea but are you okay with that?”


“Is having plain tea something you can live with and be content?”

Sarah got quiet.

“You have to go out and buy the milk you like, the sugar, maybe cream. Then every time he gets you tea you have to pretend it's enough when you’re really remaking the entire drink so you enjoy it.”

“That’s what you do though when you’re particular. You can’t expect everyone to, you know, adhere to what you want,” Sarah remarked.

“That’s true, but there are some people who think you deserve something delicious. Like an Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato with Light Ice and Whipped Cream”.

Sarah looked at her and giggled.

“You order the same thing everytime we go. I don’t understand why you get the skinny with whipped cream but live your life,” Tiffany laughed back.

“And you like a Caramel Lattee with skim milk.”

“Yes it is the only thing that gets me through the winter!”

The two chuckled and looked back down at their work.

Tiffany’s eyes shot up from her desk when she heard a thunk.

The starbucks cup was no longer on Sarah’s desk and was nestled where it belonged: in the trash. 

January 12, 2022 18:05

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