Keyword: Leverage

You think you know me? I say. You see messy hair, slippers, shabby, oversized clothes and you think you’ve figured me out?

No, says the supervisor manning the counter.

I could be an heiress, a millionaire, a top-notch executive having a bad day, you know?

The man nods in understanding.

I could even look like her, I say, waving at the girl beside him. She has sharp, bright eyes and a smart, sexy haircut. If I cleaned up, I clarify.

Sure, he agrees, wiping his brow with the back of his hand.

It’s just baby fat, I add. Comes and goes. I can’t stop blabbering. It’s like I have verbal diarrhea, an undeniable need to explain. Wait till you have two kids, back to back, I say to the girl.

I was like her once. Young, pretty, going places. One coffee pour at a time at the most happening PR firm in town. I could have been someone. Not just a wife or a mother to two demented toddlers who never slept.

People lose a lot more than their looks, I say to her.

Obviously, she mutters and rolls her eyes.

I beg your pardon? I say. You think I have lost my marbles, do you?

She shrugs, despite her boss shaking his head at her to say no.

Well, yeah, she says with disgust. Otherwise, why would you be holding up the cafe with a toy gun? That’s bubble gum at the tip of the barrel. Not splattered brain.

It’s even in your hair.

I stare at her. At her boss who’s abandoned his fearful calm and is shaking his head in disbelief. I look around at the scattered line behind me coming together again. Emerging from under the tables. Behind pillars. Off the floor. Muttering, sneering, some even laughing with relief.

You know how a coffee can change your day? I half say, half implore. The supervisor doesn’t nod in understanding. And I lower the water pistol and sigh.

Just an hour back, I had been at the receiving end of the gun, fighting off two monsters hell bent on using me as a moving target, a punching bag. Before I stole the darn thing and ran out.

I just needed a caramel latte. Extra foam, extra fast.


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