(A/N: written during a creative writing workshop — will eventually be part of a long story. Shamelessly recycles Miramonte characters and settings :D)
Natalie watched her bus pull away and swore. The public transportation in Miramonte was notoriously inefficient, and the next bus wouldn’t come for another thirty minutes. She sighed and slumped against the bus stop bench, holding her head in her hands to ease the pounding headache.
“Damn it,” she muttered, and hit the side of the bench with her fist. “God damn it,” she swore again. She couldn’t go back to the office now, not after that spectacular exit. The bus stop reeked of diesel fumes as if a concentrated cloud of pollution made a permanent home under the little rain awning. Natalie coughed and looked around for some sort of alternative shelter, and caught sight of the coffee shop across the street.
There was something oddly rustic about the storefront. A natural wood structure surrounded the sidewalk seating and covered it with a dark blue canopy. Beside the door, a sloppy sign reading THE QUARRY seemed moments from slipping from the nail from which it hung. Natalie readjusted her bag and crossed the street, drawn to the quirky little shop she’d seen in passing so many times as she ran onto the bus.
The front door was propped open into an airy, dimly lit space that smelled like strong coffee. The place was mostly deserted at the moment, but it was early on a Thursday afternoon. Natalie dumped her bag into an empty chair by the cash register and looked around. An open mic rested on the stage in the back corner, the area around it swathed with black cloth. Off to the side of the main serving counter, a neon sign read, “NATURE’S CALLIN. YOU BETTER ANSWER,” with a big arrow pointing to a beaded doorway that presumably led to some bathrooms. The walls were plastered with band posters overlapping over each other, framed portraits of vaguely famous people, and rusty sculptures and random mining tools that transformed the flat surface into three dimensions. She turned to look at the menu on the wall, but suddenly there was a girl standing a little too close, brandishing a notepad and a pen in hand.
“Can I help you?” the girl asked.
Natalie took a step back. “I—uh,” she fumbled. Over the girl’s shoulder she caught sight of an espresso machine. “Can I get a small caffé mocha?”
“Sure thing.” The girl wrote something on her notepad. “Anything else for ya?” She looked expectantly at Natalie, the faint smile on her lips welcoming but impatiently pushy at the same time. The nametag pinned to her black apron indicated her name was Amy, and despite the lack of title underneath, Natalie got the distinct feeling that although no older than twenty, Amy was in charge here.
Natalie edged towards her table, squirming under Amy’s expectant gaze. “Um, can I have a second?”
Amy nodded brightly and spun away towards the serving counter. “I’ll get that mocha for you. You want it regular or spicy?”
Amy leaned over the counter, her elbows resting on either side of a clean mug. “Ever had a chili chocolate bar?” When Natalie shook her head, Amy reached next to the cash register and pulled one from the display by the pillow mints. “Here, try it. On the house.” She threw it at Natalie, who managed to throw her hands up in time to catch it.
“I—thanks. I’ll take the mocha regular though.”