He smacked the alarm repeatedly until the obnoxious ringing came to a halt.
“Ugh are you kidding me! How is it Monday already?” said Ryan.
“As if it even matters, all you do is sleep in all day and continuously make me late for work” said a disgruntled Anastasia from underneath a silk and embroidered duvet. “Ryan, when are you going to start applying for jobs again? You told me you were interviewing and had a good chance of starting by the end of the month…but that was two months ago.” Anastasia sits up looking into Ryan’s eyes and sighs with a deep breath. “Don’t get me wrong I love waking up next to you every morning but missing you for a couple of sunrises would be nice. You know what they say “space makes the heart grow fonder”.
Ryan chuckled and like he always did when he wanted to get out of something, batted his long spidery eye lashes, rustled his blonde hair and pinched her cheek “I love you too babe.”
“Seriously Ryan, you made me a promise, a stupid pinky promise! Anastasia thrust herself out of bed, shaking her head. “I believed you when you said you wanted to get our own place and start our own business, now we have our own place with no business and I’m the one paying the rent every month! Where’s the guy with the grand dreams and ambition, ya know, the one I fell in love with? Her voice began to rise. “Jesus Christ where is my other shoe for crying out loud! Unbelievable I’m going to be late again. I can’t find anything in this mess.”
“Babe, look i’ve told you i’ve been trying, but no one is hiring right now and honestly your nagging right now isn’t making them call and doesn’t help the stress alright? So just chill for once.” said Ryan.
Anastasia’s hair on her arms began to rise and she continued to comb her hair while taking a deep meditational breath. “Chill, you want me to chill, sure i’ll chill Ryan, whatever you want. Honestly I don’t know who you think you are to tell me to chill but sure I’ll chill. She clapped her hands together. “Better yet i’ll take your splendid advice and tell my boss to chill when he reprimands me for the sixth time this month for being late, like hey boss I know I’m late AGAIN but can you just chill. How does that sound?”
“Whatever Stasi, you’re bugging.”
She stared blankly at Ryan as he turned over as if going back to sleep. Her eyes began to grow watery and a strange swirling feeling grew sharper in her stomach. She picked up her missing shoe and purposefully slammed the door behind her, knocking down a collage of pictures hanging by the front door.
The wind was extremely strong, and grey clouds began to form in the west, what surely would be a sign of a terrible thunderstorm. The streets were already flooded with men in well fitted suits and taxi drivers impatiently honking at the morning bicyclists.
“Stasi, Hey Stasi wait up! I can’t run in these Peter Pillotto wedges they’re vintage! STASI.”
Amy Lee was walking as fast as she could resembling an olympic fast walker. She was holding down her wide brimmed hat so that it wouldn’t be stolen away by the wind like the old newspapers tossed around the sidewalks.
“Amy Lee i’m really not in the mood to talk.” said an annoyed Anastasia who wouldn’t even look her friend in the eyes.
Amy raised her perfectly threaded eyebrows and quickly looked over her shoulder back and forth, back and forth.
“Who are you looking for?” She replied.
“Well i’m looking for whoever you think you’re talking too, come on its 9:08 in the morning and you already have an attitude. What’s got you so uptight? Spill the tea and release the beans, we can go to Mark’s for a latte. They’ve got this new Pecan Brittle I’ve been dying to try.” Amy smiled brightly and interlocked her arm with Anastasia’s as she tried to lift her spirits.
Mark’s is a small cafe that the two girls have been going to since they started college and spent countless nights studying and venting about modern girl struggles, scandal, and political conspiracy over non fat chai’s.
She is just so selfish at times, of course I want to skip work, grab a coffee, and vent out all the feelings that are choking me about Ryan but I can’t. I don’t understand, why did she even have to bring it up, she could’ve just left me alone. Ugh Why couldn’t I meet the boy whose family owned a successful beach front resort? No I had to meet the one with piercing green eyes that reminded me of sea glass. The one with the blonde hair that always looked so disgruntled but as if it were on purpose! WHY WHY WHY did Ryan have to be so charming!
“Ughhh HELLOOOOOO earth to Stasi, what do you say? Pecan Brittle or what?”
“Amy Lee seriously I’m just not in the mood and you know I work, it’s Monday!”
Amy’s face turned a soft pink and her enchanting brown eyes began to sulk.
“Look, as much as I would love to discuss political conspiracy with you while drooling over your new vintage Pillotto’s I just can’t. Lets grab a bite to eat when I get off, deal?” said Anastasia.
Amy shrugged her petite shoulders, “Deal, call me when you’re off.”
Amy Lee was Anastasia’s first friend since middle school and despite their completely different outlooks on the world they’ve been inseparable ever since. Amy Lee is a free spirit who firmly believes that working a 9-5 is a conspiracy designed by the government so she refuses to accept the notion of it all. However unlike Anastasia she has a boyfriend who is insanely loaded and this affords her creative and artistic lifestyle of painting and shopping through consignments and Saks Fifth.
She ran towards West Maine Street, while trying to block out the flooding thoughts of her no-good-for-promises boyfriend, Anastasia was completely out of touch with reality. She collided into a young man not a day older than twenty five, spilling his fresh and piping hot coffee all over the both of them.
“Woo thats hot! Are you okay?” said the young man.
“My God I’m so sorry! As if this day wasn’t any worse. Usually I would offer to get you another but I’m already late for work and now covered in your morning Joe! Anastasia said frantically, “Here’s twenty bucks, its all the cash I have. Sorry!” She ran towards the white suburban whose driver had a full head of salt and pepper hair and a name you wouldn’t dare pronounce, afraid of offending him.
“Where are we off to my lady? The driver said while stretching his arm across the passenger seat adjusting his body to glance back at a frazzled Anastasia.
“Take me to 123rd and Bloomington, and step on it please, I’m so late I’d be shocked if I even had a job by the time I got there.” She took a deep breath and looked out the tinted suburban windows to find the young man whom’s coffee she was now wearing sitting on a city bench. What was most striking was that his head was tilted back and his eyes closed, allowing the sun to beam down on his golden skin. Had she taken a chance to acknowledge him instead of forcing money in his hands she would’ve appreciated what she was begrudgingly staring at now in this very moment. His striking bone structure and slight dimple now visible as he smirked softly at the sun. Her imagination raced as she wondered to herself, were his eyes brown? no no they were…blue? Gosh Stasi do you ever pay attention? Well it doesn’t matter “I’ll never see him again”.
“Any guy that doesn’t make an effort to see you again would be a fool.”
“Excuse me?” Anastasia said, shocked that he overheard her. Anastasia, was a twenty eight year old who was always wiser beyond her years and never took the time to realize her own beauty. The subtle freckles that danced around her nose, her pouty full lips and her captivating brown eyes that her father would always tell her could tell a love story as anyone that looked into them would fall deeply in love. Anastasia always stayed to herself except that moment in middle school when she was forced to work with a partner who happened to be Amy Lee, and the two of them would’ve never thought there friendship would grow past a decade. “Never mind me my lady, you’re here. 123rd and Bloomington.”
She thanked the driver and grabbed her bags. Anastasia just landed this new corporate job selling medical equipment and her boss was a stickler for tardiness. The office was always a mad house, something like a scene out of “The Wolf of Wall Street” way too much testosterone and an absurd amount of cursing. F bombs were always flying left and right, it was as if it was embedded in their speech.
“Well well well, look who finally showed up, and you’re only forty five minutes late. This might be your record time. In my office NOW.” Her boss was extremely arrogant and sarcastic but who could blame him when he’s only 5’4, some childhood issues Anastasia liked to tell herself in hopes of not taking his remarks personal.
“Ed please allow me to explain, I’m terribly sorry, there was an accident”
Cutting her off mid sentence he started his rant. “Bup Bup Bup save it Ana, I don’t need to hear any of your lousy excuses, one after another after another. Do you see this watch? Yes yes its Brighton, and do you think I was able to afford this by showing up late every week and jeez what is on your blouse I mean seriously. Do you even care?”
She began to hold her arms against her chest trying to hide the obnoxiously huge brown stain from this mystery mans coffee. He always called her Ana which she hated because he liked to extenuate the “n” with some sort of spanish accent that he didn’t have considering he was an American man with no hispanic background.
“Look Ana, I can not keep allowing you to come in late because, it well, I just can’t it looks bad and I like to look good, you get where I’m going with this right? You’re beautiful, you’re young, I just don’t think corporate is for you, maybe try, ugh lets see I don’t know something else but you can not stay here. I’m going to have to let you go.”
Her voice cracking she said “But Ed I can explain.” Ed was a man who had no remorse, firing people was almost like a hobby for him, and you could tell with that smirk that was displayed across his face. He pointed to the door. She gathered her bags and headed straight for it, she could feel that swirling feeling coming back to her and she wouldn’t dare break down in front of all those jerks.
How is this my life right now, how did I even get to this point? She thought to her self and then quickly dialed Amy.
“Hey chica, sorry about this morning, but I got off early. Do you still want to try that Pecan Brittle? I’ll meet you at your place in forty five.” She hung up and darted off towards Amy’s condo. As Anastasia had just put her phone away she felt the vibration of an incoming call, when she saw Ryan’s face appear on the screen she quickly hit the ignore button. Ugh you are the last person I want to speak to right now. She hailed down a taxi and within ten minutes she was standing on marble floors and smelling the fresh lavender that was radiating through out out the hallway. “Amy, its me are you almost ready?” she yelled.
“Hey I’m upstairs, come up I need your help! Yellow or blue” shouted Amy from her bedroom.
“I like the blue, now lets go I really need some coffee. Actually let me borrow a shirt please.”
“Girl please do, what happened to you? That brown spot isn’t the most attractive sight ya know, ooh ooh try this on, I just bought it but honestly pink isn’t really my color and your legs are so much longer than mine so I know it will look great on you.” Amy hands Anastasia a satin pink dress with a subtle floral print. “Wow please just keep it, you look amazing, hits just right above your knee, am I good or what?” She said while patting herself on the back.
“Amy were only going to Marks I’m way to over dressed, and plus it still has the tag on it.” She grabbed the tag curiously and glanced at the price. “Amy Lee Kroser are you kidding me? I’m taking this off right now!”
“Oh stop! You have to wear it and plus from the way you were acting this morning it’s the least I can do. So shut up, you’re wearing it and thats it, I think I’m personally going to the go with the yellow but anyways lets go, Pecan Brittle awaits.”
The two girls set off towards the cafe and Anastasia’s phone began to ring, when she opened her bag she could see it was Ryan calling again and she denied the call.
“Uhhuh so that’s what got you all stiff, whats going on now?” said Amy.
“Lets just get some coffee first or might lose it!” said Anastasia.
“Welcome, welcome what are we having today you two? A vanilla chai or would you like to try our new Raspberry Mocha”? said the young man behind the counter.
“Two Pecan Brittles and put extra whip cream on hers she’s having a rough one.”
“Oh hush, I’m fine!” said Anastasia as she flicked Amy on the shoulder.
The girls sat down on the leather sofas taking their first sips of their awaited espressos. Mark’s cafe was dimly lit with open windows that overlooked the avenue and paintings of old artists from the likes of Frank Sinatra and BB King that hung on their brick walls. On Wednesday nights their was either live music or poetry and it often brought in a decent size crowd.
“Honestly I don’t know why you put up with him, just tell him to beat it, it’s not like you need him for financial support and lets be real he was a mommas boy when you met him so what do you expect? You’ll be cleaning up after him until the day you die.” Amy wasn’t the biggest fan of Ryan especially ever since she had to witness Anastasia picking up every bill for the past three to four months.
“I just didn’t think it would be like this, in the beginning everything was so euphoric, always telling me how beautiful I was and sending flowers and now its like he’s a different person, I mean maybe I do nag him”
“Stop right there, do not make excuses for him Stasi, he’s a man and man shouldn’t play the role of a house wife, if he is lacking ambition how will he ever boost yours, come on girl, are you awake? You need to smell this coffee because this whole job situation you got going on is not the way you should be living. Hey speaking of job, how are you even here right now? I can’t believe Ed gave you some time off.
“Yea he gave me time off alright.” said Anastasia as she stirred her coffee. “Look I know things between Ryan and I aren’t where they should be but I just don’t know what to say to him.”
“Uh how about pack your shit and bat your eyes at someone else.”
“Come on you know I’m right, he’s had you depressed for the past two months. Enough is enough Anastasia.”
I really hate when she uses my whole name, now I know she’s upset.
The door of Mark’s cafe swung open allowing an immense amount of sunlight to come billowing in through the door way. It gave off an angelic image of man only revealing his silhouette, making him appear God like.
“Back again?” said the young man behind the cash register.
He chuckled “I’ll have another of whatever you made me this morning, I kind of had a bit of an accident.”
“Amy, oh my God. Don’t look but that guy that just walked in I said don’t look!”
“Sorry sorry you know whenever you tell someone don’t look they always do!” said an anxious Amy. “Okay what about him, he’s kinda cute from the glimpse I got.”
“This is ridiculous, I can’t believe he’s here. I’m so embarrassed.” said Anastasia.
“Dudeeee what’s wrong? Who is he?! Here put these on.” Amy handed her a pair of vintage Dior sunglasses.
“No way, I’m not wearing sunglasses in Mark’s who do you think I am Ray Charles? Oh crap I think he saw me, give me those!” She quickly grabbed the sunglasses and put her head down but it wouldn’t help as the two of them only caused more attention to themselves and the man began walking towards them.
“Hey, don’t I kind of know you, we shared coffee earlier.” said the young man.
Anastasia took her glasses off and Amy tilted hers to the brim of her nose only revealing half of her eyelids.
“My name is Eric, I just moved here from San Diego.” said the man.
“Sorry about earlier, nice to meet you.” said Anastasia.
Amy bugged her eyes at Anastasia and nudged her foot under the table suggesting she should say more. Anastasia studdered and finally got her words out.
“My name is Anastasia, Stasi for short and this is Amy Lee”
“But you can call me Amy, pleased to meet you, please have a seat.” said Amy. Anastasia began to blush and she could finally see his eyes were a light blue and she tried to hold back a smile.
“So how do you two know each other?” Cutting her off Anastasia blurted out
“We don’t, well we met today.”
“I had the lovely pleasure of running into Anastasia this morning but I never got her name, only left with this twenty dollars here and the thought of who was that!” said Eric.
“I said I was sorry, I was running late and despite my urgency I was still fired.” said Anastasia.
“Wow I’m sorry I mentioned it, if it had any of my doing please allow me to take you out for lunch or another one of those that you’re drinking? What do you say?” said Eric.
“No no please I hated that job anyway.”
“So Eric what do you do for a living?” said Amy.
“Well to be quite honest, I’m not working right now, just traveling and I’ve taken up a new found love for photography. I’ve never really been a fan of the whole 9-5 and a couple of months ago I was able to sell an idea to a firm and it had afforded me to a live a life I always dreamed of.” said Eric.
Both of their jaws dropped and Amy pretended as if she had a phone call to give Anastasia a few moments to get to know Eric. She didn’t go far just outside peering in at their table but still trying to be inconspicuous. Anastasia’s phone vibrated and it was a message from Amy saying she better get his number. Anastasia giggled but then lost herself in his eyes as he spoke about the places he traveled too and the places he planned to visit. They must have talked for atleast an hour and a half before they noticed how much time had passed and Amy returned with a handful of shopping bags.
“Will I see you again?” said Eric as he softly grabbed her hand. Anastasia blushed and hit her knee on the table spilling what was left of his second coffee. He laughed and his smile made her stomach twirl, tucked her brown hair behind her ear and smiled.
“Well it looks like I owe you another coffee, and I suppose I do have some extra time on my hands.” said Anastasia.
“I scheduled a boat ride through the city, come with me, it leaves in an hour.” said Eric. Anastasia’s phone began to ring, it was Ryan. She handed Amy her phone and grabbed Eric’s hand.
“Lets go, the city awaits.” said a gleeful Anastasia.
Amy clapped her hands together saying to herself the powers of pink satin Gucci, it never fails. Anastasia’s phone rang once more, Amy answered and said “pack your shit its ova dude.” A faint voice on the other end called out “But but but”. CLICK!
Coffee Stains by Natalie Sessions
Thank you so much for reading! I would really love to know your thoughts and what you think of the characters, is the story relatable to you, and what you liked and disliked. Thanks again!