I stepped into line to order my steamed milk. Starbucks still had that flavor on the menu board, didn’t they? A while back, the company had ditched almond syrup and since then I’d had to rely on vanilla to sweeten my drink. Vanilla, of all things. The drink was, well, it was just too vanilla. But I craved the warmth that I knew would envelop me with the first sip.
"Can I help you?"
I looked up from my phone, and felt my jaw go slack. Oh crap. This had to be some cruel joke, didn’t it? Standing in front of me, waiting to take my order, was a beautiful boy barista, complete with warm brown eyes and skin the shade of the coffee I drank in the morning. My heart galloped in my chest and my palms turned clammy. This couldn’t be happening, could it? Could it?
"May I please have a tall vanilla steamer? With just one pump of vanilla, thank you."
"And your name?"
Beautiful boy barista grabbed a marker and wrote my name on the cup that would be mine. "Okay, Sadie. That’ll be $2.75."
My hands trembled as I tried to slide my card through the reader. The plastic of the card stuck to the bottom of the reader, and I practically ripped at the card to get it through. The heat of the room brought beads of sweat to the surface of the back of my neck.
"Can I help you with the card, ma'am?"
And now I was a ma'am. I glanced one more time at the beautiful boy barista, gritted my teeth, and tried again. "Oh, no. Thank you. I'll get it this time." The card slid easily through the reader. The boy's lips curved upward as he nodded his head at me and I stepped to the side to wait for my beverage.
Breathe in, breathe out, I told myself as I swiped my hot forehead with the back of my hand. I watched the beautiful boy barista go through the same set of motions he'd just performed for me. The actions ensnared me the way the moves of a ballerina did, and I swallowed back a bad feeling—the one that swamped me at the simple utterance of a few words. I’d already gone through this routine before and my marriage almost crumbled because of it. I didn’t have the strength to fight the fight again.
"Order for Sadie!"
I grabbed my drink and took a quick sip as I pocketed my phone. The light foam against my tongue reminded me of goodness and purity. I held onto that thought as I walked out the door and away from another mistake.