Corner Booth Girl

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I notice her every time I enter the coffeeshop, always in the corner booth. She faces the wall away from everyone else on the floor. Occasionally words appear on her white screen but get deleted just as quickly as they were typed. For a few weeks I notice a similar routine happening with her simply sitting in the coffeeshop no matter what time I come in to grab my coffee. Finally, I ask Jess, the owner, about the corner booth girl.

"Corner booth girl?" Her eyebrows scrunch in concentration while flitting around behind the counter making my coffee. "Oh! You mean Annabelle. Sweetest girl a person could meet."

"Does she sit here all day?" I ask, staring up at the stairs leading to the second floor where Annabelle, corner booth girl, sits. "Every day?" I tack on to the end.

"Sure does. She's my best customer. Promptly arrives when I open and usually stays until an hour before closing. By the amount of time she spends here, you'd think she'd have an entire series done already." Jess sets my caramel macchiato on the wooden counter between us.

"Series? Of what?"

"Books," Jess replies, matter of factly. "Annabelle writes." Before I can ask another question a customer walks up to the counter taking Jess' attention away.

I climb up the stairs with a new perspective toward the girl in the corner booth. Sitting down in my usual spot, I glance over to Annabelle trying to figure her out. A blinking cursor still taunts her white screen. By now, the cursor even taunts me from across the coffeeshop. Reaching into my satchel, I grab out a pen and pad of paper to write her an encouraging note again. Rejuvenated, I click open my pen and pause. How do I know what she needs? I have never tried to write a book. Read a few, sure, but write one?

My brain flips through the usual phrases one uses but none feel right. A pile forms in front of me after scratching a new message down on different pieces of paper. Absentmindedly, I pick up a discarded note and begin folding. Instead of a simple message of encouragement, a paper crane sits in front of me representing my past adventures in this familiar coffeeshop. But, to me, this coffeeshop no longer feels familiar. Instead, as I look again at Annabelle, a girl I've never met, this coffeeshop transforms into a foreign country, a new adventure to explore. Annabelle's story will be written, whether it wants to or not.

When I run out of paper to fold, I finally get the words I need to write. I stand up with the new note in hand. I walk halfway across the second floor before pivoting and returning to my booth. What could I possibly say to a complete stranger to encourage them to write a book?  Crumpling up my pile of paper cranes, I toss them in the garbage can at the top of the stairs before heading down to the first level.

Before leaving the coffeeshop, I ask Jess what Annabelle orders each day.

"Simple. Black coffee."

"Every day?"

"Every. Day." Jess' mouth perks up in the hint of a smile, acknowledging the idea forming in my head. "That girl could use some cream and sugar. You know?"

"Yeah. I think I do." I wave goodbye and leave the coffeeshop. Standing out on the street, I look up at the window revealing the corner booth and Annabelle. "Prepare to be surprised, Annabelle... no, Anna." A smile appears on my face as I look up at the brown-haired girl sitting in the corner booth. "Prepare to be surprised, Anna."

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