Creative Enclave: "Coffee with a Stranger" Part 1 by Ann Garcia
Coffee with a Stranger
by Ann Garcia
June 17, 3016
Elissa sighed, staring out the window at the gray sky. Her shoulders slumped and her eyes drooped with exhaustion – god, what she wouldn’t do for some actual coffee right now.
Coffee hadn’t been around for almost 50 years; after coffee plantations were struck with the agricultural virus that swept the globe, 98% of coffee plants and seeds were destroyed. Ever since, coffee had become a rare commodity, only provided to those with the wealth to buy it.
And Elissa certainly did not have any such wealth. She worked in a coffee shop, for goodness sakes. (If it could even be called that – the drinks it sold were merely false replicas of coffee that tasted nothing like the substance they tried to imitate.)
She heaved another sigh. Setting her arms on the counter and resting her head on them, she let her eyelids shut. So much had changed in this era. The world had become so gray and gloomy, too, what with the never-ending rain storms. One of the few salvations from boredom in this world was Delight – a legal drug that stimulated the growth of endorphins in the body at an insane rate and thus had the power to invoke immediate happiness. Unfortunately, Delight only lasted for a short time (that length depending on how quickly one’s body metabolized the stimulant), soon returning its users to boring reality.
Elissa was well acquainted with Delight. The coffee shop infused its drinks with the drug, making it quite popular with the city. But today was to be a slow day, it seemed. There had been a grand total of sixteen people to visit the coffee shop, and it was already 5 PM.
She opened her eyes and glanced at the old clock on the wall behind her (really, Kim could afford a better clock). In just one more hour, she’d be free to go home and…
And do what, exactly? Cook dinner, brush her teeth, and go to sleep? Then wake up the next morning to come right back here?
What a sad life she led. Routine after routine after routine. God, if only there were something to break the monotony-
Elissa paused, letting a soft smile find its way across her face. Of course.
She turned to greet the customer –
“Hi there!” The woman beamed.
Elissa smiled back and opened her mouth to reply, “Hello! Welcome to Kim’s, what can I get for you?”
…And then she realized that actual sounds were not coming out of her mouth and that her jaw was hanging slightly. Even worse, she may or may not have been staring at her green curls – which in Elissa’s defense, were absolutely beautiful. In all the years she’d known her, she’d never looked so stunning.
“Oh, uh…” Her glasses slid down her nose as she shifted her weight, quickly becoming uncomfortable under Elissa’s gaze.
Get it together, Elissa.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I’m staring, aren’t I?”
“A little, yeah.” She giggled, her eyes turning up as she did so. “It’s the hair, isn’t it? I knew it was too flashy.”
“No, not at all! Well, the hair is what caught my attention, but it’s not bad.” Elissa stumbled over her words, becoming more and more aware of how awkward she was making things. She took a deep breath.
“I love it.”
“Thank you! It’s one of the new things my friend’s working on – implants to make your hair change colors based on emotions. Like those mood rings they used to do back in the day.”
As she spoke, the roots of her hair began to transition from green to a pale shade of yellow. It complimented her dark skin nicely.
“See?” She pointed to her hair. “Yellow for happy.”