13, 14, 15... Ben counted diligently. She whipped around, her skirt formed a large circle as it flared up and brushed Ben's hand, distracting him.
"Do you want to go ahead of me?" She sang at him, "It's taking me ages to decide."
Ben stared at her for a moment, unsure of himself.
"No,no..." He muttered. "I'm quite happy waiting." At this point,, Ben was late but he couldn't bring himself to declare it.
"I insist, or you might be here for the rest of your life."
Ben looked at her as though it had just dawned on him that he had been there for all his life. He edged past her with the same ridiculous, glazed look - rather like that of a dull bunny rabbit. Their faces say nothing, but you had best be certain that somewhere in the back of their minds, they're plotting their next escape...
Ben's mind worked furiously through his new revelation. He HAD been there for all his life. He was born in the town 25 years ago, he had spent his childhood along these streets, came to the same coffee shop since high school, where he would order the same plain coffee and he saw the same people day after day.
"What can I get you?" The waitress sounded irritated and bored, not just with Ben, but with life in general. Perhaps it was a condition of life for all the people who live here, Ben thought to himself.
"Sir? She prompted again.
"Oh, I would like..." Ben stopped. He looked up at the menu board, it might have been the first time he was reading it or maybe even seeing it. The choices whirled around in his head. The names confused him and the noise in the shop seemed to grow louder with each passing second. Ben stood there, failing entirely at this simple task of ordering coffee.
"I'd recommend the caramel one, if you can stomach that much sugar this early in the morning." She chirped behind him. The waitress rolled her eyes and rang it up before Ben could answer and disappeared into the back to make it.
"My name is Katey, what's yours?" Ben noticed that she had bright eyes. Not the colour, her eyes were a grey-green at best, but still bright. Ben thought they looked like lights from a distance, nothing distinctive other than the brightness that seems to explode into the dark, empty space around them...
"Ben." He said. He was annoyed that his name sounded wholly uninteresting. "Is this your first time here?"
She nodded energetically. "I've just moved here."
Ben wondered why on earth anyone would do that, but thought it impolite to say so. Instead he smiled and nodded too. The waitress returned with his coffee. As he paid, she continued behind him. "If you want, we can chat while we have our coffee."
Ben looked at the clock on the wall behind her, he was already fifteen minutes late for his class and it would take another ten to get there, he might as well miss it entirely. "Sure."
Ben was startled by the decision. He was sure he had never decided anything that fast before. It took him longer to choose a brand of toothpaste, even though he would inevitably buy the same one every time. He walked to the table, still in shock, already a dozen or so maybe's sat comfortably somewhere at the back of his mind.
[To be continued]