Unaware she has been staring at the POS machine, she is startled when she caught her own reflection on the screen. She surveys the expression on that familiar image. She knows that look and what it means. The only hint of her feeling is that half smile on her face, almost too faint to notice. She quickly pursed her lips as though afraid someone might see. She looks up and realizes she is alone. Everyone has left. The air in the bistro is beginning to feel stale. The air-conditioning is on timer and shuts down on its own after eleven every night. She glance at the old Seiko on her wrist with the worn out leather strap. 11:30. Gathering her sweater and shoulder bag, she signs off on the POS and head for the door.

It will be a long walk home and she is glad. A good walk is what she needs to help process the events that unfolded earlier that day. She pulls out a bunch of keys and turns to lock-up the place. Pulling the hood of her parka over her head and with both hands tucked into the pockets, she steps out onto the pavement and make her way down the street. The night air is chilly after two days of moderate but persistent showers. She is lucky it stopped just hours ago. The ground is still wet and she loves the smell of a freshly laundered world.

Tonight she doesn’t feel like plugging into her iPod. She needs to hear herself tonight and starts thinking about her conversation with Jason that afternoon. He had suggested they hang out for drinks after their shift someday but she casually laughed off the incredulous suggestion, hoping he was only half serious. She wasn’t sure if she was angry with him for making her feel awkward or quietly happy that he did. She has gotten to know him a little better lately and finds herself drawn to his self destructive ways. There is something tragic about him which pairs well with his melancholic demeanor. It doesn’t help that he is talented, quietly contemplative and vulnerable. Exactly the recipe that could tear down her defenses. She is aware she has been feeling increasingly nervous around him and rightly so. She does not trust herself.