She walks in to Nude, tripping with an air of cultivated nonchalance, her excitement fizzing under the layer of cool. Her eyes can not widen enough to take in all the options that are available as standard in Italian coffee shops. At home and the cafe around the corner Dad has tea, Mum has instant, and she has squash. She once went into a Starbucks, but sees nothing here suggesting of sugar and sweetness. Now she has come to join the sophisticated set. Those who drink coffee not just to quench a thirst or hold a warm beverage, but to observe and be observed, passing the time in small sips and understanding the world through coffee granules.
Startled, she realises that the man behind the counter has asked her three times what she would like. Barista David his badge says. What is a barista? Is it like a Mr? Or a master? This boy can’t be old enough. One flashed smile later and she suddenly feels very self conscious, so hurriedly points at the first thing on the menu. The ordeal of ordering seems not to be over, and Barista David asks her some more questions, to all of which she answers yes.
Mum squeezes her hand. ‘Go and sit down love.’ The girl smiles, before realising that Mum has just held her hand in public and to regain composure she must swing her thumb through her jean belt loops and saunter to the nearest table.
Her mother arrives at the table, bearing two cups of coffee and two slices of cake. The girl takes a forkful of the light, lemony layers, letting the fork rest upon her lips, before pulling the glistening chocolate creation towards her, its stickiness too enticing.
Then her eyes wince. She has taken that first sip. Bitter, rich, moisture zapping. Strangely captivating, but sharp.
I go back to my book.
When I look up next the words are in free flow, conversation of boys and school and problems and dreams tumbling. Mother and daughter. Friends. They will be here next week.