The fresh breeze whips my hair across my face. Spring is almost at an end making my mornings a bit chilly. The stars have disappeared but the moon is high in the sky as the store owners mumble their morning greetings and open up shop.
This has been my usual route to work, everyone knows everyone. Nothing happens around here without the whole street finding out by the time the sun rises.
Mr. Jameson is the only one that keeps to himself, he is my favorite person on my route. He nods his greeting and gives me a polite smile. There is no need to make any small talk with him, he never answers anything anyways. He does not care for the latest gossip going around and I like that.
The thin cardigan clings to my small body as walk past Mr. Jameson as he sweeps the sidewalk and I give him a polite smile, he returns it.
Living in Havenport is like living near everyone you grew up with, that is if you were lucky enough to be born and raised here, I wasn’t.
The big windows gleam with the streetlights as I peek inside. Wanda is in the back room from what it looks like. The light in the backroom is on but the front is dark.
The keys jingle as I unlock the door and step inside the warmth enveloping my body.
Wanda, my manager, walks out of the back and is pulling her fro into a ponytail as she prepares for the morning rush. Wanda’s dark eyes are heavy with the lack of sleep that she has been experiencing.
“Hello Abigail,” she stifles a yawn with the back of her hand as I walk behind the counter and place my belongings in my section.
“Morning Wanda,” I chime to her. The cardigan I was wearing is then replaced with a green apron. This is the best for me at least, the soft music can be heard and no one is angry about something that is out of my power.
“Is it too early in the morning to have a third cup of coffee?” She folds her arms across her chest. Wanda seems to have had a hard night.
“It is barely going to be five in the morning. I guess the answer is yes,” she groans and walks back to the back room, “and it is too early for a smoke,” I yell at her. Wanda is notorious for rushing out the back door for a quick smoke.
“I am quitting!” That must be the nth time she has been trying to quit this year. She must be under so much more stress than she leads most people to believe, she is lucky that I am not most people.
Taking one look at Wanda and you would think that she is working here to pay off her school loans and exhausted from studying every night. No one knows that she is a teen mom that is working her butt off to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs.
Wanda is a hard worker and refuses to accept money from her deadbeat ex-boyfriend. The second that he heard that she was expecting a baby he ran for the hills. She was expecting twins at the beginning and lost one. She might have never met him or her but their death weighed heavily on her heart.
Wanda would have kept it all to herself but she had the misfortune to be crying in the supply closet when I walked in. Cheeks raw, bloodshot eyes, and uncontrollable sobs she had to tell me since the first thing that came into my mind were that she was hurt, little did I know.
Wanda returns as she rolls down the sleeve of her button-up shirt, another nicotine patch plastered on her arm. I truly hope that this time she does quit.
Her cheeks puff out. That is a bad sign, “We’re short-staffed this morning. Alicia has a doctor’s appointment and Andres is out sick.”
Oh boy! I nod my understanding. Normally I would complain about being short-staffed but this is the last thing that Wanda needs.
Tamara opens the door and gives a dismissive wave. She is looking through her phone as her bright blue eyes scan her screen, “My God! I am so ready for this concert.” Her pale complexion is bright with the light of the screen.
Tamara has been looking forward to the Adele concert for a while now. That is all she has been talking about for the past few weeks.
Tamara is the complete opposite of Wanda. From physical features to attitude, the only thing that they have in common is that they are both friendly, for the most part.
Tamara is a high school drop out. The reason that she is working is to enjoy her youth. She tends to spend money clubbing, partying, and concerts. Her parents pay for her bills and she is not happy with the fact that her parents put a limit on her spending. At least she is making an effort to earn her money rather than get from her parents.
Wanda is twenty-two years old but is wiser than her years. Tamara is nineteen with a free spirit that makes most people fall for her charm.
Tamara has tried inviting me out plenty of times but I told her that I would not be able to attend. Now if it were a Twenty One Pilots concert I would be there in a heartbeat.
Wanda scolds Tamara about when it is almost time to open the doors for the customers. Tamara is distracted by her phone when Wanda clears her throat and asks her kindly to put it away.
The screeching of metal to tile sends a cringe-worthy shiver down my spine. Tamara has finally set down her phone and is setting the chairs on the tile floor as Wanda makes sure our inventory is stocked.
Tamara asks if I want to work the cash registers this morning and I agree. Before Wanda opens up the flood gates I take a moment to myself.
It is another day at work. The adult life sucks. The life we seek as kids wanting to grow up too fast. The belief of growing up is the best thing in the world does not last once you enter the grown-up realm.
As kids, we thought we could stay up as late as we want and do whatever our hearts desire. No one tells us or at least we do not listen to them when they say that adult life is not all it is glammed up to be.
Naps were a chore as a child, now they are a luxury. Staying up past midnight is a mistake that costs us dearly in the morning.
My job title is a barista. This is my life now wiping down tables and serving people their caffeine addiction but it can always be worse.
Hell, it could always be worse. At least I had a job.
Most of the time my mind is buzzing with coffee and tea mixtures. That is why we have a hard time remembering how to spell a basic name on the cup. My body feels worn out with the everyday hustle and bustle of working.
A job as a barista is not horrible if you know how to talk to people. I always try to see the brighter side of everything. Well, that is what my mother used to say. When skies are grey I search for the rainbow which will come out at the end of the storm.
As a barista, you need to know a few rules.
Rule number one always smile at everyone and try to be as pleasing as possible even when the customer is at their grumpiest. Which in my luck is in the morning when they are running late but still decide that they need the elixir of life, also known as coffee.
Rule number two the customer is always right. I may not always agree with this but it will save you from a lot of headaches. There is no use in fighting them, trust me.
Rule number three do not forget to smile.
We opened five minutes ago and there is a line forming in front of my cash register. I wipe my hands on my green apron and tighten my ponytail. As I inhale a deep calming breath, I plaster a smile on my lips and walk up to the register to begin my shift.
“Morning, welcome to Starbucks how can I help you?” Those words have been embedded in my brain since I began working here three years ago. I always listen to my coworkers complain about how rude customers can be but I am a people’s person so I am fine with their attitudes.
The sunglasses reflect my face as I stare at the woman before me.
“Yes, listen up. I’m in a rush and I don’t want to repeat myself and I also don’t want to return for another coffee. Capiche,” a blonde woman in her late twenties says. She drops her designer purse on my freshly cleaned counter and scavenges through it for god knows what, her wallet perhaps. Her sunglasses are not necessary at the moment since the sun is barely peeking over the horizon but the building is covering the sunlight outside.
“Capiche!” I repeat with my tight smile. The rich customers are the ones that make my people-pleasing skills falter at times. I lean in so I can hear everything since her head is down staring into her purse, how deep is that darn thing.
“I want a grande coffee in a venti cup with three pumps hazelnut, one pump vanilla, two pumps caramel, three equals and three sweet and lows filled to the top with cream, with extra cream on the side, double cupped with no sleeve, a stir stick, and stopper put in the top,” she says without looking up.
Not once did she glance at me since she is still searching through her purse.
“Did you get it?” I stare at her, wow. What kind of purse is that? Santa’s magical bag?
I type in her order and her total comes up.
“I got it, it will be $5.28.”
Once the words leave my mouth she looks at me and I give her a small smile. She pulls out her wallet with a frustrated groan and hands me a ten-dollar bill. I return her change and go over the order with Tamara. As I am going through the woman’s order I overhear a customer complaint.
“What’s taking so long?” Someone groans.
"Jesus," Tamara sighs, "What a great way to start the morning," she rolls her eyes.
A loud clash roars through the back room, "Tamara, can you come back here, please!" Wanda yells and Tamara's eyes widen.
"Don't worry I got this, go!" Tamara rushes to the back to check up on Wanda.
"What's the hold-up?" A woman exclaims.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” summoning my most cheerful tone, this woman would be my first customer of the day. Working as fast as I can under these circumstances. I, by accident, overflow her drink and I glance back at the woman who now has removed her sunglasses and put it up in her hair.
Her blue eyes are as cold as ice as she stares at me sending a shiver down my spine. Her eyes narrow as she stares at her cup. I take a deep breath and continue. I turn around and hand her the cup, just the way she wants it. She puts on her sunglasses again grabs her drink and takes a sip. I cannot see her eyes but I can sense them on me.
“Humph, I’ve had better,” with that she turns and walks out.
“Have a great day,” I somewhat shout at her as she is at the door. She regards me and waves me off. The rest of the morning flies by as it would on a busy day.
It is a quarter til one and a few people are lounging around on their computers or talking on their phones.
“Abigail, you should clean up. It’s almost time to clock out,” says Wanda.
There is a smudge of powder sugar on Wanda's cheek. Wanda thought it was smart to lean on the storage rack and made some powder sugar and coffee grounds drop to the floor. That is why she needed Tamara.
She has always been strict but fair but everyone, including myself, notices she gives me special treatment. No one says anything since I do not take advantage of her well-hearted nature. Her ebony skin makes her dark grey eyes shine brighter than normal.
Her well-press pants and blouse make her appear as if she were ready for business but her wild and untamed fro gives her an appearance a more youthful guise.
“Sure,” I walk around the counter and pick up trash from the tables and wiping them down.
Cleaning up is fairly easy since most customers tend to pick up after themselves. I like this since this is where I get to strike up a conversation with people.
On my third table is when I take notice of the guy sitting by the back door as he grunts. My gaze falls on him and he keeps on reading his book, his sunglasses are so dark I cannot see if he is looking at me. It is easy to brush it off and keep on with my work.
At one in the afternoon, I clock out, pull off my apron, put it under the counter so I won’t forget it tomorrow, and grab my purse.
All I have on are my black shorts and a white fitted tee. The cardigan hangs from my arm as I walk to the front where I am far enough from the beverages and food to pull out my scrunchie and let my hair fall around me. I wave bye to my coworkers as I step out into the street.
There is no hassle from traffic since I do not drive. My eyes close as a gentle breeze hits me. I love the way my body responds to a breeze after I have been inside for a couple of hours, chills run down my body.
The street is swarming with people entering or exiting the nearby shops. I walk down the busy street, people are walking fast around me trying to get where they are going to. I take my slow pace not in a rush to go home since I live alone.
Benefits of having your place no one tells you what time you should be back. My eyes spot my reflection on one of the small businesses windows, I look at myself in the window.
My hair seems to be dead flat as my fingers run through my locks I ruffle up my dark long hair, it is hopeless. I take a step closer assessing my face and my minimum makeup, just eyeliner and mascara is still in place. My dark eyes stare back at me.
The crowd starts to thin as I make it to the next block and as I am crossing the street in front of an alleyway I overhear a faint voice.
“Help me!” It sounds like the voice of a child, they must have been playing around and went too far from the street and are now scared to come back. I glance around, but the block is empty. “Please!” The whisper echoes through the alley.
“I’m coming,” I say walking into the alleyway but there is no sound.
Scanning the alley there is no one in sight. The child must be scared and hiding.
“Hey, where are you?” I take a couple of steps forwards when a screech makes the hairs from behind my neck stand on end and my flesh is filled with goosebumps. The hiss makes my body jump back as a cat runs off.
I take a breath of relief, putting my hand on the brick wall, pushing all my weight into it, and trying to steady my breathing. “That scared me!” I mumble to myself.
“If that scared you, then I will terrorize you!” A voice comes from beside me.
A scream escapes my lips with no effort turning around I come face to face with the man from Starbucks, the one that grunted at me. He grabs hold of my shoulders and pushes me into the brick wall behind me knocking the wind out of me. The first thing that comes to my mind is to give him everything I have thinking he might be a thief.
“Here take it, it’s not much but it’s all I have!” I stare at my purse since I am pinned to the wall.
“What good will your money do for me? I want something more precious than your money!” His voice is sinister and I shake with his words.
He releases one of my shoulders and grips my throat cutting the oxygen from my body.
“P-Plea-ase!” I say trying to breathe in vain. I try kicking and punching anything to loosen his grip around my neck but he does not seem to notice my effort. He is still wearing his sunglasses but I am certain if I could see his eyes I would get a glance of pure evil. I am happy for the absences of his eyes on me.
That is short-lived when he opens his mouth and two fangs materialize. I swallow hard and my body trembles.
He will kill me. I realize and that is when adrenaline goes through me.
No, I will not die to a guy who’s been watching too many vampire movies.
“That’s it, fear and adrenaline mixed in with your blood are my favorite.” His head leans into my neck as he inhales deeply.
Is he being serious?
I lift my legs and try to push him but it is like trying to move the brick wall behind me. He raises his head to look into my eyes as his hand rises to his sunglasses and he removes them.
If my eyes would go any wider my eyes would fall out of their sockets. The irises of his eyes are blood red and the skin around his eyes is a deep purple as if he has not slept in days. His face leans in closer and I see double. I am not getting enough oxygen to my brain, his nose runs from the bottom of my earlobe down to the nape of my neck.
I shiver from his touch and his breath against my skin the sensation is cold, cold as winter. He presses his lips to the side of my neck and its texture reminds me of ice cubes. I try to move but there is nothing I can do. There is a pinch soon followed by a stinging sensation. I hiss out a breath in pain when a burning sensation soon follows and his grip loosens.
The cold wall slides down my body as he drops to the ground and I want to scream but the pain is too much for me.
The pain radiating from my neck feels as if I just was stabbed as my hands go to the side of my neck trying to relieve the pain but the pain is spreading. Growing from my neck to the rest of my body. I stare at the person in front of me and he is looking at me with a gleam in his eyes.
“At last, I won’t be alone.” He says and bends down I close my eyes. Then there is a sharp pain in my chest and instead of burning and stinging it makes me numb.
This sensation takes away my pain. I want to open my eyes but my will to live dies slowly as nothing else really mattered.