Sweet Tooth

There are certain irreplaceable joys in my life at the moment, the first being a glass of strawberry lemonade. I'm enjoying one right now as I partake in the second of said joys, an innocuous indulgence for my eyes.

They barely register the clock in the corner of my laptop tick to three. Dried coffee stains the touchpad and crumbs from sweets I devoured hours ago litter my lap, unbeknownst to me. I'm sure they aren't visible from where he’s standing, but I hurriedly brush them off just to be sure.

He probably hasn't even glanced in my direction.

Which is irritating, given that I've hogged the one seat right in the center of his line of vision, currently trained on another sugary beverage diluted with heaps of ice. I silently applaud him for his focus that hasn't wavered since I arrived. The sun, now casting an amber glow on every table, was just rising then.

I know he's been here since dark, though.

I know that his curly hair constantly rebels against his headband, spilling every time he looks down to work on another order. I know that he always asks customers to spell their names, whether they're one syllable or four. I know that sometimes he forgets a nickel or a dollar when counting change, an often-used excuse for girls to steal just a bit more of his time. I know that he hums constantly, especially when business is slow. I know that he never fails to pick up after careless customers, even when all that's left behind is a crumpled napkin.

Such is the fruit of my labor: hours upon hours spent watching Arlene's only employee. I could never call having a tall glass of lemonade and a slice of strawberry shortcake every day a chore. Eyeing him is merely visual therapy.

Speaking of, I've already overstayed today's visit.

The wooden chair groans against the tile floors as I rise to gather my things. Hoisting my backpack over my shoulders, I hear the familiar ding of the oven timer go off. The lemon tarts he put in earlier must be done.

How could I forget? I nearly left my now-watery lemonade behind, a funny-tasting liquid with barely any trace of its once-potent sweetness. Chugging it all, I place the glass gently on the counter before pushing past the glass doors and into the still summer air.

I'm craving something sour.

Meet the Author

Alexa Tan

1st year



"Lonely hopeless romantic. Perpetually in an existential crisis."

Instagram: @alexatan5



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