Bitter Drink

I stepped out of the passenger seat and held on to my briefcase loosely. I looked down at the floor before I slammed the car door shut. My sister’s decrepit handbag lay on its side; its mouth was agape in a manner that could either be interpreted as mild discomfort, or unfathomable disinterest.

Beside the handbag (which I decided was unfathomably disinterested in its mild discomfort) sat an extremely gnarled sheet of paper. At one time the paper might have displayed Google Maps directions from my home address to the lost city of Atlantis. Unfortunately, the paper was stained and discolored by melted snow, mud, and potassium chloride making its secrets completely indecipherable.

Fun fact for those interested; it wasn’t really a map to Atlantis. It was actually a set of directions to the Mayan city of gold.

A smirk crept across my face as I thought of adventure and Mayans and wealth beyond measure (every dime of it donated to charities intended to decrease World-Suck.) My fantastic story came to a screeching halt when I heard a voice calling me back from El Dorado.

“Hello, sir! What can I get for you today?” asked the girl behind the counter.

I strode confidently forward, leaning against the counter. Looking down at the badge on this exceptionally gorgeous girl’s apron—Maggie—I smiled broadly.

“A tall cup of something worth trying,” I said as seductively as possible as I gazed deeply into her honey-colored eyes.

She was taken aback for a moment, and then—smiling quite mischievously—she made a few hasty marks on the cup. She took great care in ensuring I wouldn’t see what was written, then handed the cup to her associate.

He looked at her notes and grinned.

“You’re in for a treat buddy,” the male barista laughed. After combining a curious concoction of colorful syrups in the cup with inexplicable speed and dexterity.

Finally, the barista—Titus, according to his nametag—placed a lid on the cup, and handed it to me gingerly. Looking down at the cup I was feeling a mixture of uneasiness and excitement, this was as close to adventure as anyone living in Missoula, Montana would come.

I took a tentative sip, and immediately felt a feeling of bliss rush to my cheeks, a wide smile spreading across my face as I swallowed. It was fantastic.

“What do you call that one Maggie?” I asked, looking back behind the counter where she waited with a look of anticipation.

“Ambrosia,” she said, sporting a half-smile that was impossibly bright.

Ambrosia,” I repeated quietly to myself. “It is heavenly, so I suppose the name fits.”

“I doubt it will grant you immortality, though. Sorry about that.”

I was becoming more and more impressed with this girl by the minute. Not only was she a top-notch barista, but she knew a thing or two about Ancient Greek mythology. She was special, and I knew I wanted to get to know her better. Unfortunately, I have a slight problem with Introducing Myself to Girls; in the sense that I have a seemingly insurmountable barrier.

I had a good feeling, though, and so with all the confidence I could muster I walked back to the counter.

“Hello Maggie, my name is Oliver.”

“I know, I had to write it on the cup,” she interjected.

“Ah, um, yes. Well, I was wondering if I might be able to get your phone number.”

“It’s on the cup, under your name. Text me around six when I get off work.”

“Right! Um, will do. Thanks!” I stammered and, making a quick about-face, walked out the door.

“What did you get?” my sister asked, eyeing the cup in my jittery hands. “You usually don’t get this wired just because of coffee.”

“Maggie.”

“What?”

“Ambrosia, sorry, it’s called Ambrosia. I dunno what’s in it, but it’s marvelous.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” she said bluntly, obviously annoyed

My sister was never very fond of caffeinated beverages. She doesn’t like coffee, or soda, or tea, or anything of the sort. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how someone who does so much work gets through it without the aid of caffeine.

As we drove home I finished the last of the Ambrosia, which did not lose its flavor despite having cooled off quite a bit. I was exceedingly impressed, and inexplicably enamored. Glancing at my watch I realized there was still some time to go before six o’clock, so I situated myself at my usual perch at what once had been the dining room table. Presently it serves as my desk. Three stacks of books overshadow my laptop; a sporadically-used ashtray sits beside my long-neglected briar.

I booted up my laptop and spent the next four hours laying waste to the Darkspawn menace attacking the good people of Ferelden.

 

*****

After glancing at my watch for what had to have been the 30th time the face read six-fourteen. I whipped out my phone and punched Maggie’s number into my address book.

“Hi there, this is Oliver. You made me Ambrosia earlier and gave me your number.”

I locked the phone, sat it on my *desk* and waited impatiently. Nothing.

“It’s probably fine,” I muttered to myself. “She’s probably been held over at work, or she’s driving home. Really, it’s not a big deal.” With that, I went back to my game.

*****

Two hours later I sent her another text, and I was beginning to worry.

“Maybe I did something wrong?” I thought. “Maybe I said something I shouldn’t have? I don’t know.”

Suddenly my phone buzzed on the table. I snatched it up excitedly only to see a Facebook message from someone asking about the AP Lit homework. After tapping a hasty reply about what the reading was supposed to be, I decided that I was going to give Maggie a call. I dialed the number and waited. It rang once, then again, then an overly-exaggerated voice straining at seduction relayed the following message:

“Hey baby, welcome to NightChat Montana. There are some steamy singles in your area just waiting for your call…”

I hung up embarrassed, ashamed, and depressed. Another strike.

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