Note: This short story will be moved to another one of my websites, The Womanhood Chronicles, once I am done with updating it. The website will feature the creative writings of myself and other women writers. Meanwhile, enjoy this short story that was originally written in 2001, however, I’ve revamped it.
Ms. Uptown sits in Republic Coffee near the window on every visit. The young dark-haired girl with the thousand tattoos and fifty piercings smiles at her as she enters and motions in the direction of the window seat if it’s vacant. Otherwise, she heads over to the occupants and informs them of the one hour sitting policy when the coffee shop is crowded before telling Ms. Uptown that there will be a short wait, but she is welcome to sit in the lounge area until the table becomes available. While the window seat was ideal for Ms. Uptown, it was never a fuss if it wasn’t available but because she had become a regular customer of the coffee shop, the wait staff treated her like she was VIP. Of course, she didn’t mind any of that. Why would she?
Most nights at Republic Coffee were cramped with students slumped over laptops, large textbooks with a lot of damn pages, highlighters, pens, and notebooks. On this particular night, it was scarcely populated, perhaps because it was a Saturday night. Ms. Uptown was quietly settling into her space, calculating the time frame that she could waste away. Most of that day moved slowly and she saw no reason to schedule bullshit all for the sake of being busy. Nighttime found her unwilling to take on the town so she decided to hide away at the coffee shop and be alone with her thoughts and the works of her favorite authors. Flipping through some Ntozake Shange, her mind was free to become engaged in the lives of the characters that Shange so brilliantly constructs in her novels. Rocking a pair of tattered jeans with stilettos, Ms. Uptown adjusted the sweatshirt that she altered so it could hang off her honey-colored shoulders and tossed her iPhone in her bag rather carelessly. Opening her autographed copy of Lillian, she lowered her eyes onto the pages and with each word she read, the coffee shop, the city, and the world faded away.
While engrossed in the quirky conversation that Lillian was having with her therapist, Ms. Uptown broke away from the fictional world and returned to the clamor of the evening. She sensed a presence of some kind so she took a steady look around the coffee shop, only for her eyes to land on the table directly in front of her. He sat alone, with his head resting in the palm of his right hand while the other was positioned on the keyboard of his Mac. Ms. Uptown wasn’t even sure when he came in; of course, that’s the effect that Shange’s lyrical & vivid writing has on the reader.
Forever the connoisseur of fine men, Ms. Uptown took a bit of time to focus directly on the beautiful surprise in front of her. The top three buttons of his black shirt were open and the sleeves were rolled up as well so she was able to see his taut and lean muscles. His goatee was neatly trimmed but he was starting to grow ‘Locs so his hair was in a nice array of knots. She noticed that his ears were pierced but he wasn’t wearing any earrings that night. But his most striking feature was his skin; skin so smooth, she could smell the Coco Butter caked up in his pores. She knew he made a point to use cocoa butter after every bath. There was nothing Ms. Uptown liked more than good skin on a man. According to her, it enhanced the tongue’s ability to cover more spots during late nights. She was obvious, and oh well, if he noticed, then she would nod her head in approval. If he greeted her in return, she was gonna light up like a ferry.
He’d seen her already; noticed her as soon as he entered the coffee shop. But before then, he saw her in a dream. She came to him one night and set his love jones in motion. Awaking rather suddenly, he turned over to see the Other Her much to his dismay. Disappointed at the realization that it was a dream, he fell off to sleep again, hoping she would return to his nocturnal world. In the present day, he would spend time in Republic Coffee, sitting in the back purposely to avoid being seen so he could fully concentrate on his work. He would see her often as she entered the coffee shop and take the window seat near the front of the establishment.
Watching her as she sat down on plumpness, he’d take pleasure in her process of settling down and preparing to read or write in the brown journal she carried in her totebag. As he worked on client presentations, he would wonder from time to time about her, glancing from the glow of his monitor and see her, almost motionless, reading while totally oblivious to her surroundings. Why was she always alone? With everything in place the way he liked it, he could not find a suitable reason, although he sorted through a few of them. Was she high maintenance? Mean-spirited? Bitter? Lonely? Desperate? Did she have any people skills? Or, was she simply bat shit crazy? While he loved a spiritual woman, he was hoping she wasn’t one of those Scripture-quoting divas who used every churchy cliché that their pastors relayed to them. Too much wondering makes a man curious, so on this night, he opted to sit in the booth directly in front of her.
Ms. Uptown caught his gaze when he looked up from his monitor. The two of them smiled in acknowledgment of each other. In those moments, there is a kind of unspoken exchange that takes place. Somewhere between the eye contact and the smiles, a negotiation is underway where one is determining if the other should approach first. Ms. Uptown and Mr. Coco Butter were working out the final details of this negotiation through broader smiles and just when it was time to close the deal, a figure from the shadows emerged, well, not quite, but that’s the best way to describe the Other Her. She interrupted the kinetic energy that was developing between Ms. Uptown and Mr. Coco Butter. Yes, the Other Her was intrusive as she plopped in the booth seat at Mr. Coco Butter’s table and immediately started to sound like an off note in an otherwise beautifully constructed musical arrangement. Talking non-stop, Mr. Coco Butter would attempt to peer past the Other Her to get a glimpse of Ms. Uptown. She balked slightly, shook her head in an ‘hmph, hmph, hmph’ fashion and went back to that crazy ass woman in her book. She should have known something that divine had a problem.
Mr. Coco Butter was tied up, explaining something to the Other Her that she wasn’t fully hearing anyway. Ms. Uptown, bummed out by the whole thing, started packing her tote bag and with a smirk, politely strutted her sculptured, cultured ass out of the door. But, it ain’t over, although Ms. Uptown thought it to be. She dismissed it as one of those thangs, where brothas of today ain’t worth making up her mind to even approach, let alone sulking because she didn’t get further than she wanted. As a rule, she just washed it away in her herbal shampoo that night and listened to D’Angelo. Lying awake at 1:30am, she touched her sacred space lovingly while imagining a blissful night with Mr. Coco Butter. If she can’t have him in the temporal, then she could, at least, lay claim to him in her fantasy life.
On that note, Mr. Coco Butter found Ms Uptown again a few weeks later. That ain’t hard when it’s meant to happen. She stood in the Express Lane, examining her blackberries and checking to see if her pie crust was still cool. Mr. Coco Butter walks by, reading aisle signs and still not finding what he needed. He’s not gonna ask for help, instead he continues to pace the aisles, until he catches a glimpse of an ass he recalls switching by him on a nameless day back when. Trying to get a closer look, Ms. Uptown turns his way, as if on cue. Their eyes light up each other’s soul and both of them, at that very moment, are sharing the same vision of being sticky and wet. Mr. Coco Butter saw this as an opportunity to correct a wrong.
“I see you again,” he opened. While they didn’t even know each other’s name, there wasn’t a need for formalities. Their souls were already acquainted, making love on a cloud of passion. Their bodies had to play catch up.
“Yeah. How are you?” Ms. Uptown returned, even though the Other Her crossed her mind.
“I’m better now.”
“Why is that?” She quickly asked.
“Because I’m seeing you.”
“That’s a line, ya know? But it’s alright because it came from you. Who are you, anyway?”
“Quincy. And you?”
“Territa. And…who was she?”
“Yes. She. The Other Her. That night. At the coffee shop. You were smiling at me and she came to sit at your table…and disrupted that good vibe.”
“Oh.” He paused before answering, “she’s not going to do that anymore.”
“Her rights have been revoked.”
“Is that a cute way of saying you broke up with her, Quincy?”
“Of course it is.”
“I’m supposed to believe that.”
“Not if you don’t want to. But it’s the truth either way.”
Ms. Uptown sized him up and looked into his eyes to find a hint of deception. She found none so she proceeded. As they talked, a familiarity drew them closer, right there in the grocery store. Falling in sync with each other’s steps, they began to look like the future to each other. He asked about the groceries, she mentioned the blackberry pie. He chimed about the juice easing down his chin as he eats blackberries. Ms. Uptown’s honey pot sounded the alarm, but she played it cool. Mr. Coco Butter inquired about her evening. All of sudden, she was free. Beginning at eight, the world was at their mercy. At 10pm, blackberry juice was dripping and secrets were being revealed. By 12am, it felt right. By 2am, Mr. Coco Butter was deep in Ms. Uptown’s lotion and Ms. Uptown found new places to put her tongue. That ain’t hard when it’s meant to happen.
Cocoa Butter by Chandra Kamaria is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.