Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)
TITLE: Caffeinated Oopsy
By Kristen Hester
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“Let’s see,” she began, looking up and down the black board menu. “Hmmmm...” She tapped a finger on her lips. “I think....I’ll have the....Arabian Mocha Sanani.” I glanced impatiently at my watch.
The lady unwrapped herself from the large bag that crisscrossed her body. She set the purse on the counter with a thud and began digging for her wallet, increasing my annoyance. I was eager to get back to my office.
When the lady accepted her coffee, she proceeded to turn and smash right into me. That’s when I saw her face.
“Oopsy! I’m sorry,” Veronica said with a surprised expression followed by an awkward giggle.
“No harm,” I managed, my earlier annoyance melting away at the sight of her green eyes. She lingered a moment, as if waiting for something, but we were interrupted by the clerk.
Veronica walked away while I ordered a basic french roast and paid with the exact change that I had ready. I blew on my steaming coffee as I walked to the last empty table. When I noticed Veronica standing by the condiment stand browsing the room for a place to sit, I nodded to a vacant seat at my table. She smiled, and gracefully swayed toward me until her long skirt caught on a chair and jerked her backwards. “Oopsy,” I heard her say as she freed herself. I suppressed a grin as she looped her bag on the chair and sat with a soft sigh.
“Thanks. It’s full house today.” The flirtation in her voice pleased me.
I tried to appear nonchalant, but my heart was racing. “Come here often?”
“Actually, this is my first time. A friend recommended it. You?”
I noticed Veronica’s strawberry scent and the clinking sound her silver bracelets made each time she lifted the cup to her lips. “It’s my first time, too.”
Veronica suddenly glanced at the clock on the wall and jumped up. “Thanks for sharing your table,” she said cheerfully. “See you next week.”
Veronica and her strawberry scent were gone and I was left puzzling over her last comment and the happenstance of our meeting. What were the chances? Regardless, I knew I would be back next Thursday if it meant more time with Veronica.
When I opened the door to <I>Perk Up</i> seven days later, she was sitting directly in my line of vision and I wondered if she had planned it that way. I nodded a casual greeting, then placed my order. When I turned towards the seating, I raised my eyebrows and she pulled a chair out from her table as an open invitation.
“Thanks,” I said as I sat down, realizing I was even more nervous today than last week..
“Well, I owed you a seat,” she said and we both ignored the fact that there were several available tables.
I twisted my wedding band and wondered what I should say. I was thankful when Veronica spoke.
“So, you’re married?” she said mischievously, eyeing my ring.
“What are the chances? Me, too.” She placed her hand on top of mine, revealing her own wedding band. “I never took it off.”
I smiled. “Me either.”
“What have you been doing?”
“Working mostly. Jogging some. Reading.” I paused. “I’ve been going to a men’s Bible study.”
“Have you found the “fulfillment” you were looking for?”
I winced as Veronica quoted my parting words. “Veronica, leaving was an oopsy,” I said using her made-up word.
Veronica lifted her jaw and narrowed her eyes at me. “Leaving me was a little more than an oopsy. It was a caffeinated oopsy”
“You’re right. How ‘bout it was the stupidest thing I ever did.”
She took a quick breath, then leaned back in her chair and looked into her cup. I could tell she needed more, so I continued.
“Veronica, my life is empty without you. I realize now we had full life already. Will you forgive me?”
Veronica faced me with wet, happy eyes. “Yes, but don’t ever leave again.”
There wasn’t a chance.
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