"That's so crazy that this was happening." Sara says of the protagonist in my book about a young African American woman who marries into a wealthy white family by passing as white.
"It's bizarre how this country was so messed up not so long ago," I say.
"I'm glad I was born when I was born," Sara says. "Hey, Talia, it was really nice having lunch with you."
"I had even second guessed whether I should come and sit by you, but then I imagined how awkward it would be if we both were sitting alone."
I snort a laugh. "I'm often in that position. I usually just sit alone and keep my head down or stare off way into the distance hoping that nobody sits with me."
As we walk out of the caf she asks if I'll be at Moriah's show.
"I'm going to tomorrow's 7PM showing. You?"
"I'm going tonight. 8:30. My friend's birthday's tomorrow, so I'm going out of town."
It's around 7:30 in the evening as I sit in a relatively empty Expressions. Friday nights are quite a nice time to spend in a cafe. Everyone else is too busy partying o to be bothered with sitting on a laptop listening to indie music.
I picture Moriah on stage dancing right now. The auditorium is only an 8 minute walk from here. I'd passed it on my way here after dinner at Burkley. Tomorrow, I'll be there, waiting on the steps to get inside.
I take a sip from my rooibus tea. Caffeine free and delicious. But I haven't drank it fast enough and it's gone cold. I stand up to get a refill of hot water when I hear the front door open and a clammering of chatter that doesn't belong to the cafe enter. I glance over to see a group of well dressed girls with their hair done. They're the kind of girls who would be dressed real skimpy had it not been for the temperature. I continue to the counter and ask the barista for more hot water.
"Sure thing," he says. As he turns away I hear a voice shout "Talia!"
I notice immediately the voice. It was just talking to me hours earlier.
"Hi, Sara. Going to Moriah's show?"
"Yes! So excited! You should come too!"
I point my head at at my desk as to say I've got quite the night.
"Oh! You're such a goodie tooshy!" She turns to her friends. "Guys. This is my friend Talia. She knows Moriah."
The four of them behind Sara all say hi and their names to me. Two of them do a meek handwave, the kind where the hand stays contained under and within the shoulder blade.
"Can you get me a Double Mocha Latte Fat Free Milk?" Sara says to the one named Julie before walking a little closer to me.
"Taking notes for a paper I'll have to write soon."
"Ah. Really have to respect your conscientiousness."
"It's just that I have a stress-free life."
"How do you do it?"
"Take only 12 credits and not have a part time job."
"Impossible. Boo! Won't you not graduate on time?"
"Not with a summer class or two. Plus I came in with AP credits."
"Will you be here this summer?"
"Come on Sara! Let's go!"
"Okay! Coming!" she says to them. "I'll be here too."
"We should hang out sometime."
She turns around, and her friend I forget her name already, hands her a cup and the group of them walk out of the cafe. They wave goodbye to me, hands high in the sky, as they exit. Once the door shuts behind Sara, the cafe feels quiet again, although the music is on. The barista gives me a face that says good riddance they're gone. And then he hands me the refilled cup of hot water.
"I just put in more hot water now. Should be good to go."
"Thanks," I say. He smiles.