‘Good morning, gorgeous.’
I look up, too surprised to worry about eye contact. The first thing I notice is his expression. He looks shy, as if he had to pluck up the courage to even say those few words to me. He is staring right at me, but still I look around to make sure he directed those unlikely words to me.
‘What can I get you?’ I ask when I finally remember my duty.
If he is disappointed at my lack of response, he doesn’t show it. ‘A latte, please’, he says politely and I ring in his purchase. He moves down the line with a shy ‘Bye’ and I get ready to serve the next customer.
All day long this small interaction bothers me. I must have served the man before, but I have become so used to making myself invisible that I have extended this to my customers. I no longer see them as individuals, they are an anonymous stream of coffee-purchasing humans. I don’t make eye contact with them. The smile on my lips never reaches my eyes and all transactions are carried out mechanically. I have become an automaton. Yet somehow this man called me ‘gorgeous’. He stood in line deciding whether or not to add that little word to the end of his greeting. He had been nervous about it, which indicated that he had seen me before and had come into the coffee shop preparing to set himself apart with his greeting. I cannot fathom why. I am not gorgeous, far from it. I have never been good-looking and these days I work very hard at making myself as nondescript as possible. Mousy brown hair tied up in a messy pony tail. Not one of those artfully messy ones which look amazing. A boring one. I wear a boring grey jumper and faded black slacks underneath my barista apron. I am a small, dumpy woman. Maybe that is what makes me stand out, as all my colleagues are willowy, gorgeous and stylish.
At the end of the day I decide not to think about the man anymore. I am reading far too much into it. It was an off-hand comment. He doesn’t find me gorgeous, he isn’t hitting on me. I am safe. He won’t hurt me. No one pays me any attention on the Tube ride home. My house is empty and quiet and comfortable and I finally relax.
He makes his way down to my breasts, kissing each peak until my nipples pucker and ache for more. He takes each nipple into his mouth in turn, gently sucking them, his fingers stroking the sides of my breasts. I want him to speed up, continue downward, but at the same time I don’t want him to stop. Not now, not ever.
I wasn’t always a mousy woman. I used to be well turned out, as they say. I worked out, regularly went to the salon and watched what I ate. I was proud of how I looked. Too proud. And as they say, pride comes before a fall. And boy, did I fall hard. So hard that I decided to just stay down. It was easier that way.
It is still painful for me to think about that time. I was young, naive, and thought that the world was my oyster. Men fawned over me and I loved it. I could turn heads with the flick of my hair or the swaying of my hips. I loved the power I had over them.
Except I didn’t have any power. Who was I kidding? Do we as women ever really have power over men? They see what they like and they take it. Whether it is given to them or not. The men who hurt me certainly didn’t ask for permission. They grabbed me and pushed me and tossed me between them. They entered me roughly, laughing and joking amongst them. And when they were done, they left me behind. Torn and bleeding. Tossed aside.
Some women rise from the ashes of their destruction stronger than before. They become warriors, spokeswomen, shining examples of female strength. There must be something wrong with me, because all I wanted to do was hide. Find a hole to crawl into never to see the light of day again. So I became invisible. Stopped going to the gym and the salon. Gained weight, changed my clothing. Let my hair go to the dogs. It’s funny how little attention you attract when you are in between beautiful and hideous.
Eventually he continues downward, his tongue licking a path from my breasts to my belly button, his hands sliding along my sides, stopping at my hips. I am ready for him, as ready as I will ever be, but still he takes his time. I know he is ready for me too, but he draws out the anticipation. I know it will make the eventual release so much sweeter, but I am impatient.
The man has been back every day for the last two weeks. What does he want? Even my colleagues have noticed and they do not hide their contempt. Thing is, he is quite good looking. I hadn’t really noticed the first time he talked to me, but I have become bolder. I make eye contact with him when he comes in, I even smile to him every now and then. I don’t want to encourage him, but I can’t help liking the interaction.
The only one who is supportive is my manager. But then, she always harps on me to be friendlier to the customers.
‘Smile at them, they don’t only come in for a coffee,’ she would say. ‘They want a little chat, they want to feel special. And as a barista it is your duty to be a bright light in their day.’
I had never paid attention to her. I am good at my job and she wouldn’t fire me for not smiling at the customers. But she is happy that I make an effort now, because she feels that her pep talks have worked. I am not doing it for her though.
He is in again this morning. I can see him at the end of the line. We only have one line for all the customers, but he always arranges it so he ends up in front of me. I am not flattered. It is not a compliment to me that he does this.
He is nervous today. I can see him fidgeting, his lips moving as if he is rehearsing something. I find I look forward to seeing what it is he is going to ask me. I almost laugh at his discomfort. Have I become cruel?
When he finally is in front of me, he stares at my chest. I feel the heat rising to my cheeks. How dare he? He is not any better than all the other men I served. Checking out my breasts. I scowl at him when he finally looks up. He smiles uneasily.
‘Good morning,’ he says.
‘Latte again?’ I ask him.
‘Eh, yeah.’ Another glance at my breasts. ‘Eh, Lisa, would you like to go out for a drink at some point?’
I stare at him, my mouth open. First of all, how does he know my name? Second, how dare he?
‘Ehm, your name is Lisa, right?’ He points at my breast and I look down. Of course. Name tag. That was what he was looking at. I hate the stupid thing, and this is exactly the reason why. He can come up to me, call me by my name and remain anonymous himself. A piece of me is out in the open, something I would have preferred to remain hidden.
My mouth is still open and I finally close it. I don’t know what to say. I ring in his coffee, but he doesn’t leave.
‘I am really not a psycho,’ he says with a half-smile. ‘But I understand if you don’t want to go out. The offer still stands if you want to change your mind.’
He moves along the line to pick up his coffee, the tops of his ears bright red, which for some reason endears him to me. I want to call him back, but the next customer demands my attention.
His lips and hands travel over my hips, skipping the apex of my thighs for now. He kisses my inner thighs, his breath hot on my mound. I am ready and needy; try to squirm to get closer to him, but he chuckles softly and pushes me down. ‘Patience, my love,’ he tells me and a small sound of disappointment escapes me.
I keep thinking about his offer. I am not certain about it how I feel about it. Until this moment, it has been endearing trying to figure out what his intentions were. Now that he has made it clear, the ball is in my court. And I don’t like it. For the last few years I have avoided situations like this. I have hidden myself away, but clearly not well enough. He noticed me. I don’t know how, or what has attracted him to me, but he noticed me. It is scary.
I also don’t like that we are on unequal footing now. I still don’t know his name; I am reluctant to ask it before I have made up my mind whether I want to go for that drink. Which is the wrong way around: surely I should know more about him before deciding to go out with him. But I can’t bring myself to ask something that intimate of him. As much as it bothers me that he knows my name, I don’t want to give him any hope that I am interested in seeing him outside of the coffee shop.
It becomes harder to focus on work. Every moment of the day is consumed by indecision. Shall I go out with him? What harm can one drink do? Maybe it’s time I let go of the past and have fun again. In the end I get so impatient with myself, I blurt out, ‘I’ll take you up on that drink.’
He freezes, his hand with his card half outstretched, suspended between us. I take his card, avoid eye contact lest I lose my courage. ‘I get off at five, you can pick me up here and we can go out.’ I look up at him now. ‘One drink though,’ I tell him.
He smiles, a genuine smile of delight. ‘I look forward to it.’
His lips trace feather light kisses along my neck causing goosebumps of pleasure to erupt all over my skin. He nibbles my earlobe, his stubble lightly scrapping my skin. I sigh with pleasure. ‘Is this all right?’ he asks me and I moan an enthusiastic ‘yes’.
It wasn’t horrible. Going out for a drink, I mean. Of course I didn’t tell him that, I am not rude. I told him it was nice. I may even have said ‘Let’s do it again’, which I hope he won’t take literally. I only had one drink. So did he. I don’t know if he was just trying to be polite or whether he is not much of a drinker. I don’t care. I don’t intend to go out with him again.
As I said, it wasn’t horrible. We talked about this and that; he was polite and asked me about myself without being pushy. We had a few laughs together. I didn’t feel threatened. He called me a taxi afterwards despite my insistence that I could walk home. It wasn’t that far. I guess that’s what bothers me: I think I am adult enough to decide when it is okay for me to walk home. I had to pay for the taxi as well, it wasn’t as if he paid the driver to take me home. Yeah, once is enough. I will go back to being the barista, giving him coffee and small talk and that’s it. I am sure he didn’t really like me that much anyhow. He probably wanted to pull the shy girl out of her shell. Well, I have no intention to leave my carefully crafted shell behind.
He kisses the inside of my knee and I almost come right then. I never knew that place could be so sensitive, so pleasurable. He spends a lot of time there, until I don’t think I can stand it any longer. Then he makes his way back up and this time he no longer teases me.
That resolve didn’t last long. He has asked me out for dinner and I said yes. What was I thinking? Well, he has grown on me. He takes it slow, I have to give him that. No pressure about a second date at all. A week went by before he mentioned seeing me outside of the coffee shop again. And I was worn down by his flirtatious greetings, his winks and knowing smiles.
I haven’t fallen in love with him. Nothing so preposterous. But he has stirred long-forgotten feelings in me. Lust, if I may be so bold. I have even fantasised about him in bed, the vibrator working furiously between my legs. I picture his face as I stimulate my clit, feeling the waves of orgasm crash over me. I imagine his cock deep inside me as I thrust my biggest vibrator in me, my cunt dripping with desire.
I am not suggesting I agreed to dinner because I want to sleep with him. Sure, he features heavily in my fantasies, but that does not mean I want those to become a reality. What do I really know about him? His name, a bit about his upbringing, his education. I don’t know whether he is kind to animals, whether he is secretly sexist, racist, or homophobic. I guess I agreed to dinner because I realise I am tired of being invisible. Tired of hiding. Maybe it is time to open myself up again, albeit only a little.
When his tongue finds my core I let out a moan of pleasure. He is gentle, but firm; asking for reassurance, but all I can tell him is to keep going, be firmer, take me. When at last he enters me I buck my hips into him and together we ride the waves of pleasure to their inevitable climax.
I am not sure I am ready. Not sure I am strong enough should he be a disappointment, or worse. I don’t know if I can trust another man again, share my secrets with him. I am not sure of anything. But I am taking the plunge nevertheless. My loneliness is stronger than my fear and maybe, just maybe, something good will come out of it all.