Desiree looked up from her magazine article, over her coffee cup, and out the window to the street. Nothing looked different.
But something felt off.
Without turning her head, she glanced to her right and left. There didn't seem to be any change in the cafe's patronage. The same old guy in the corner to her left, and a younger guy - grad student, maybe? - tapping away at a laptop two seats to her right, oblivious to his surroundings.
But something felt off.
She took a sip of coffee and moved as if trying to pop her back over the chair she was seated in. As she twisted, she looked around. Barista leaning back, scrolling on a phone. Barista cleaning the cappuccino machine. (What were those things called?)
She could see the backsides of a few people in line by the restroom in the rear. That was new. No one fixing drinks, no tables looked occupied, but a line for the restroom? As she turned back around, the door opened and a new patron entered, crossing straight back to the restroom line.
Desiree pulled out a compact from her satchel and feigned powdering her nose while she watched this newcomer nod and exchange words with a couple of the others in line. This cafe had a gender neutral bathroom, so it was no surprise to see the mix of people back there, and Desiree had to acknowledge that although not her practice, chatting with strangers in line was not uncommon.
The compact now rested by her coffee cup and she continued her reading. Moments later a man in a cable-knit vest over his buttoned shirt and bow tie entered. College professor, Desiree thought as he crossed the corner of her vision.
At last, coffee shop noises. Maybe that's what distracted her before: it was too quiet.
"Hey, professor! The usual?" she heard a barista ask, and smiled to know her assumption was right about the man.
"Thanks, Troy. How long until you'll call me Jay?"
The barista laughed. "Probably at least until graduation."
The drink didn't take long to make, and she heard Professor Jay thank the barista. Her peripheral vision expected him any second, but then she heard murmurings from the bathroom hall. She flipped open her compact as it sat on the table in front of her, and witnessed this new person shaking hands with several people as he moved, unquestioned, to the front of the line, opened the door to the gender neutral bathroom, and held it open for the small crowd to enter before him.
What on earth? She had a split second to make a decision. Thrusting her magazine and compact into her satchel, Desiree took one last gulp of coffee and moved to the back hallway just in time to smile at Professor Jay, whose eyes registered confusion above his noncommittal smile before he allowed her to enter and closed the door behind them.
It's FICTION FRIDAY!
Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.