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Coffee and Clocks

Sharon (Xian) Yang

“… the perfect breakup outfit.”

White chocolate caramel mocha impressions. The girl sits in a copper chair stained green from prolonged exposure to oxygen. She is next to the window of the coffee shop; so close to the window, in fact, that there is a circle of fog from her breath on the tinted glass by her left shoulder. Her breath smelled of white chocolate caramel mocha with skim milk, no whipped cream; substituting 2% milk with skim milk. The girl is convinced that the calories from her drink totaled zero. The girl turns her head away from the window to face an owl-shaped clock hanging on the wall in front of her; the owl-shaped clock is two minutes and seven seconds behind, but no one’s counting. Her eyes are fixated meticulously on the second hand of the clock as time, the third party observer with perfect, unbiased opinion, ticks away; three minutes and 32 seconds of time ticks away before the girl’s rounded hazel eyes begin to squint into their irritated shape. The girl decides that she will wait another one minute and 28 seconds for him because it’s a universal rule that no girl should have to wait more than five minutes for a member of the opposite sex.

Artist: Renia Mirabueno
Ten minutes and 47 seconds pass, and the girl still sits in the same copper chair with the same expression on her face and the same circle of white chocolate caramel mocha scented fog on the window by her left shoulder. Her once immaculate tickle-me-pink manicure has chipped tips from consistently tapping on the dark cherrywood coffee tables, and her kiss-me-berry lips are now pursed into a thin, stern line. The girl is slightly beyond annoyed but not quite angry just yet; she reaches into her jacket pocket and takes out her LG Dare touchscreen phone and texts him. (She had wanted an iPhone and recalls specifically telling her parents that the iPhone was essential to her happiness and wellbeing since everyone had one except for her.
Of course, everyone did not include the overwhelming majority of the population who did not own an iPhone.) The girl stares expectantly at her phone, waiting for the screen to light up again, indicating that he had written a text back to her. The screen of her phone remains dark, thus the girl comes to the conclusion that his phone is either broken into pieces or lost and never to be found again. Continuing to stare at the phone, she sighs and decides that his phone better be broken into at least ten pieces and be in flames.
The boy rushes through the crowd on the cement sidewalk across the street from the coffee shop; glancing down at his worn leather watch. He happily smiles thinking that he is going to be eight minutes early: this would be the first thing to go well for him all morning. He doesn’t realize that his worn leather watch, that once belonged to his great-grandfather who had a knack for being late to everything, was two minutes and seven seconds behind. The boy crosses the street at the crosswalk, not taking any chances on jaywalking (today was one of those days that unfolded according to Murphy’s Law), and as he approaches the coffee shop, he is genuinely surprised to see the girl already seated inside with her hazel eyes slanted into their irritated shape. He walks into the coffee shop and immediately notices that the girl is wearing a push-up bra (her boobs didn’t normally look this big).
The girl notices the boy across the street and instantly takes off her warm, white jacket; she had been planning this outfit for weeks (low-cut shirt, her most flattering jeans that cost her a whole week’s paycheck, stilettos that gave her feet blisters on top of the blisters that already exist from trying to wear the heels in, and a push-up bra)–the perfect breakup outfit. Her getup was sexy enough to let him know that he was lucky and to remind him afterwards that he used to have a hot girlfriend, yet it was sophisticated enough to convey confidence and maturity instead of slut. The girl stares at the boy as he bursts through the doors to the coffee shop and notices that he had on two different pairs of shoes, stains on his shirt, and wrinkles down his khaki pants. The boy clearly had no clue how to dress, and a fashionable girl cannot be seen with an uncoor­dinated, messy boy.
The boy sits down across from the girl and proudly mentions that not only is he on time this morning, but he is actually eight minutes early; he didn’t realize that the male sex should never mention time because they can only be wrong according to the female. Time, the third party observer with perfect, unbiased opinion, is not so unbiased as the owl-shaped clock matched the boy’s worn leather watch, both two minutes and seven seconds behind, both blissfully ignorant of other clocks and watches with the so-called accurate time, and both consistent in reminding people that being on time is an impossibility that is overrated (the mea­surement of time is invented by humans, humans are flawed, therefore the measurement of time is flawed). The boy barely finishes his sentence before the girl reprimands him about his forgetfulness, his selfishness, his attire, his inability to respond to texts, his shoes, his posture, and as she continues the prolonged list of faults, the boy can’t help but think about how the Colts lost to the Broncos the night before; props to Brandon Stokley.
The boy notices a silence, meaning that the girl has stopped castigating him; the girl notices that the boy was not paying any attention to what she had to say. The boy comes to the conclusion that this silence is his cue to tell the story of his horrendous morning; he can’t decide whether he should lie, in which case she won’t believe, or tell the truth, in which case she might not believe anyways. Lies are short and simple while the truth is long, complicated, and unbelievable. The girl cannot come up with enough reasons to stay in the relationship and bites her kiss-me-berry lips as she formulates her breakup speech in her head. The perfect breakup speech consists of three parts–an apology, an expla­nation, and a goodbye. The girl had just barely perfected her explanation when she felt his hand cover hers. She begins to move her hand away, but the boy took her movement as an initiative to intertwine their fingers together. The girl thinks the boy is too dense to recognize that she wants to leave him; the boy doesn’t want the girl to think he is too dense to recognize that she wants to leave him. The girl thinks that the boy takes her for granted; the boy thinks that the girl is beautiful. The boy grins (partly because he knows the girl has a weakness for his grins and partly because he simply enjoys her company despite her anger), and the girl’s bottom lip starts to tremble.
The boy glances at the girl and catches sight of a sparkle, a pearl of tears pool at the corners of her lugubrious hazel eyes. The boy believes that tears are the secret weapon employed by the female sex when they want the males to feel useless and emasculate, but at the same time the boy believes that the male sex should do everything in their power to prevent the female from crying. He decides to tell her the long, complicated, and unbelievable truth (but as a firm believer that nothing should go to waste, he saves his fabricated story in his list of excuses for future use). The boy believes that the girl is worth the long, complicated, and unbelievable truth; he believes that she deserves his effort in telling the truth. The boy touches his fingers to her freckled cheek to catch the tear spilling out of her bright eyes (the boy gets bonus points for not commenting on the mascara stains) and begins to explain his forgetfulness, his selfishness, his attire, his inability to respond to texts, his shoes, his posture, and how seeing her was the best part of his day.