Before I start my story, picture this in your head very clearly:
You're walking down a street. It's a sunny, sunny day and there's a light breeze blowing in your face. You feel sexy and confident because you're wearing the brand new scarf and sweater you bought yesterday. You're in a wonderful mood. You're walking, walking when suddenly your foot catches on something and you pitch forward. The books you're holding in your hand fly out of your grasp. You let out a shriek and land face first into the hard paved surface. Papers scatter. Other people sidestep you and snigger, thanking all gods and deities that they aren't you. You groan in agony and pull yourself up, hurriedly picking up your ruined and damp books. You knee is grazed and bleeding. The hair you took an hour to perfect earlier on now resembles a leafy shrub. Your shoes are scuffed. Your dignity is wounded. The good mood is dissipated.
Sound familiar? No? Not even a little?
Then you're one of the lucky ones.
This scenario, my friend, is practically a daily occurrence for me. As you've probably deduced by now, I'm one of Those People. Those pathetically clumsy, perpetually embarrassed, hopelessly klutzy individuals you probably come across at least once or twice in your life.
I am one of those cursed people.
Clumsiness might not be categorized as a life-threatening disease but it might as well be. Every rock/pebble/crack/puddle/high-heeled shoe I see is a potential Dangerous Object I Will Most Probably Catch My Stupid Foot On. Or DOIWMPCMFO. I call them DeeOhs for short. You might think that I'm going a little overboard by actually naming them, but you'll understand better if you're constantly picking yourself off the floor, blushing furiously and muttering apologies to anyone you unintentionally harmed.
Anyone who knows me even vaguely instantly associates me with my clumsiness. As in, "Oh, Bella? You're talking about Bella Swan? The Klutzinator? Man, she broke my lava lamp into two a few days ago." Almost 70 percent of my various acquaintances or friends know me because I have either:
a. Spilt a liquid on them.
b. Set fire on something in their home/room.
c. Destroyed one or more of their belongings because of my ineptitude.
d. Caught my foot on something that belongs to them, example: their stray bag straps on the floor (I hate it when people do that), dog/cat, play swing, carpet, rug, shoes, toothbrush, toy… the list goes on and on.
e. Breaking one or more items of their cutlery or dishes.
f. Single-handedly ruining a project/task they undertake.
Basically, I'm a walking, talking disaster machine.
Everyone knows this. And they keep as far from me as possible. Just joking.
But seriously, I'm dangerous.
And my best friend, Alice Greene, should know full well that I cannot, repeat, CANNOT do anything that requires balance. My entire being is devoid of anything resembling balance.
Which is why I can't figure out why she wants me to work at some café with her.
As a waitress.
I flinch whenever I hear the word. Being a waitress, as everyone knows, involves navigating your way safely through a baffling maze of tables and chairs, all placed very closely to each other, while holding or even, God forbid, balancing (shudder) a trayful of edible goods or even liquids.
I cannot do it.
However careful I am, one of my legs will invariably find a way to hook itself around a chair or table leg. Imagine what havoc I would wreak if I ever became a waitress.
Apparently, Alice doesn't understand.
'Please please please!' Alice begged, eyes widening and hugging my knees, mock-sobbing. 'I'm begging you!'
'No no no!' I shook my head wildly, crossing my arms and pursing my lips. 'A waitress? Are you crazy? The day I become a waitress is the day Prince William flies all the way here to propose to me.' I snorted.
'You said you wanted a job, so I got you one!' Alice's eyes were going into overdrive. If I were a member of the elusive male species, I'd probably be a puddle of infatuated goo right now. Her spiky black hair, bright green eyes and overall pixie-ness did that to you. Sadly, the puppy dog eyes had no effect on me. 'They pay five bucks per hour!'
'I'll be kicked out within one.' I told her, standing up. 'Alice, I can't be a waitress.'
She visibly deflated. 'But it'll be so much more fun if we work together…'
'Couldn't you have chosen something else other than being waitresses?' I groaned, flopping down on the couch again and turning on the TV with a nudge of a remote control button. I flipped through channels. 'And why this particular café?'
'You know why.' Alice grumbled, sighing. 'Him…' a smile slowly spread across her features. 'Jasper Hale, twenty-five, six foot two, blue eyes, blonde hair, but most importantly, single.'
I couldn't help but guffaw. Jasper Hale had been the object of Alice's near-obsessive affections for the past few months. Ever since Alice found out that Jasper went to this particular café last month she'd been clamoring for a job there too. I just never thought that she'd rope me along as well. Then I groaned again. 'You're making it harder for me to say no.' I complained. 'But I stand resolute!' I raised a fist. 'I will not succumb to your pleas!'
'Shut up.' Alice threw a pillow at my face, laughing. We both settled into a giggly mass on the comfy sofa. Alice and I shared a tiny apartment on the fifth floor. We'd been friends since we were shitting in our diapers. No kidding.
We were silent for a moment, watching the gorgeous Patrick Dempsey in his blue scrubs on TV.
'No.' I didn't take my eyes off the TV.
'No.' as if stretching the word out would make the prospect of being a waitress more attractive. Pssh.
She tried a different tactic.
'Will you or will you not work at the café with me?'
'I will not.'
'Very very sure?'
'Isabella Swan. Do you disagree or agree to not get hired as a waitress without me or not?'
'Er…' I thought for a while. How mind-boggling. I doubted even Alice herself knew the answer to that question. '…I agree?'
'Ha!' Alice crowed, pointing at me. 'I got you!'
'Oi!' I tackled her to the ground. 'What I meant was no! No! No!'
'Damnit!' Alice whined. 'Is there anything I can do to make you change your mind?'
'Stop being so negative!' Alice advised. 'Who knows, you might get lucky, right?'
'Get lucky?' I asked distractedly, already getting up and cuddling up to a milk-stained cushion.
'Your clumsiness might miraculously disappear, who knows?' Alice said, lying down on the floor and looking up at the cracked plaster ceiling of our apartment.
'Ha! If only that would happen.'
'It might!' Alice pressed on.
'Alice, you and I both know that. Is. Never. Going. To. Happen.'
We were both silent again.
'You said yes just now.' Alice pointed out.
'You know what I meant to say.'
Alice grabbed a cushion off the sofa and buried her face in it. 'I really need you there, Bella.' she said quietly. 'You know how huge my crush is on Jasper.'
'Sort it out yourself, then.' I said, and I immediately felt guilty.
'It won't be as much fun without you around, though.'
'I've already asked the manager, he said he'd be happy to hire us both.'
'Of course he would.'
'Imagine how lonely I'll be there.' Alice let out a tired breath. I held back a derisive snort. I knew Alice well enough to know that the moment her eyes latched on to the tall, attractive figure of Jasper Hale they would never unhook themselves.
'Just try it. It might be fun. You never know.'
I stayed silent, thinking. I subconsciously reached for a large, steaming mug of Ovaltine on a worn coffee table in front of the sofa, and promptly upset it. The hot liquid spilled and rapidly spread all over the table. I just stared at it. Luckily I'd already downed three-quarters of it. Alice simply handed me a terry cloth she kept nearby and I mopped it up.
'Fine…' I said reluctantly.
Alice sat up, back ramrod straight. 'Really?' she could barely keep the exultance out of her tinkly voice.
'Yes.' I sighed.
'Ohmygosh! I love you love you love you so much.' Alice jumped up and gave me an enormous hug, shivering with anticipation, head filled with images of Jasper. 'I promise you won't regret it.'
Ten seconds into my decision and I already was.
In the morning.
Alice, the peppy one, had been up and bustling at six. I, on the other hand, had to be shaken awake by her. I'd climbed out of bed reluctantly, dreading my brand-new job. What a contrast we made right now: a sullen, grumpy, birds' nest haired Isabella Swan, klutz extraordinaire and a bright, cheery, chirpy Alice Greene, face glowing and a waitress-y smile already pasted on her face. The neon Café / Bar sign just sent me further into misery.
'I'll be opening in a few more minutes.' the manager, a jolly-faced middle-aged man told us, the newbies. 'Emmett will be here to guide you.' he pointed to a huge, muscly man with a shaved head somewhere by the coffee bar, whistling as he whirred up the coffee grinding machine. 'I have three other waitresses working her, you can ask them questions if you have any problems at all.'
Alice nodded energetically, twisting her apron around her jittery fingers. The manager gave me a worried look. I couldn't blame him. Who'd want a stormy-faced waitress serving their beloved customers?
'The kitchen's back there.' he pointed a beefy finger towards the direction of a set of wooden double doors in the far corner of the huge café. 'A bell will ring if there's any food waiting to come out. If your order's only for drinks, bring your slip to Emmett. If there's both drinks and food, write them on separate slips and give them to Emmett and the kitchen respectively. If it's only for food, give them only to the kitchen.'
He moved towards the double doors, pushing them open. There were only two drowsy people there in the clean, shiny chrome kitchen. 'After you get your food orders, poke the slips through these little hooks over here.' the manager gestured to a few evil-looking hooks protruding through the mint green wall.
'We usually get more orders for coffee and tea in the morning, so the kitchen's rather empty now.' he explained, mustache bristling. 'Understand?'
Alice had been nodding so hard throughout his whole explanation that I feared she would be transmogrified into her own bobblehead there and then. 'Yeah, yeah.' I waved a hand, giving him a smile. 'We got it.'
He didn't look convinced. I bet he's having second thoughts about hiring us now.
Then again, so am I.
The manager walked away, and unlocked the Plexi-glass doors of the café. Alice and I backed into the shadowy corners of the café, like the manager had told us to. No one likes overeager waitresses hanging around, waiting for you to order, he'd said. Walk rapidly and purposefully towards your customer if he or she is looking around for you. Observe the customer.
Several other waitresses joined us, looking smart in their uniforms. I looked down at my own matching get up. It was reasonably okay, I suppose. Black tee with their logo on it, casual black jeans and a green apron.
'Hey,' Alice whispered to her neighboring waitress, who had her hands in her pockets, chewing BubbleYum.
'Hi. New?' she asked succinctly. 'Lauren.'
'Alice. That's Bella.' she pointed at me. Lauren gave us both acknowledging, polite nods.
The very first customer walked in.
My palms were already sweating. I rubbed my palms against my apron, leaving an unsightly stain on the crisp, green cloth. Lauren gave me a dirty look. I shrank away. God.
Two other girls were standing beside Lauren. One was decidedly stunning, in full makeup and tall and lithe, the sort of girl you expected to find on a runway. Somehow, she managed to pull off all that makeup without looking like a cheap hooker. Beside her was a bubbly Alice-clone with wild brown curls, tapping her feet against the smooth floor.
'You're supposed to have your hair in a ponytail.' The tall blonde girl tapped her own bouncy hair. 'Short hair is excused.' she added to Alice, who's arm had shot up to her short locks, eyes widening in panic.
I fished around in my pockets for a stray hair band and hurriedly tied my hair up.
The customer, a businesswoman in a sleek black suit sat down, pulling a laptop out and she looked around. 'I got this.' the curly-haired brunette said, and she made her way over to the customer's table, order pad and 2B pencil in hand.
My own pad was already curling at the edges, I'd been fingering them in anxiety. My pencil had already been chewed up by me, too.
'Relax.' Alice reassured me, giving my hand a squeeze.
Instead of answering her (I didn't trust my own voice), I watched enviously as the curly-haired brunette gracefully avoided making contact with any tables or chairs, finally coming to a stop at the customer's table. She pulled out her pad and her lips moved, talking to the customer.
I looked down at my black Converses.
Not. Feeling. Good.
My vision swam.
I was nervous.
Screw it, I was terrified. The fear that was currently coursing through my veins was the sort of fear you felt when a thousand guns were being pointed at you. The sort of fear you felt when a crazed murderer was just about to swing an axe into your flank. The sort of fear you felt just before you got a full-body wax. And believe me, those hurt.
I was going to embarrass myself in front of everybody, I was sure.
Customers trickled in.
'The blonde is…?' I heard Alice ask Lauren.
'Her name's Rosalie. The other's Jessica.' Lauren answered.
My heartbeat roared in my ears. My vision swam. The floor tilted beneath my feet.
Alice kept a close lookout for a certain blonde man.
My feet were numb.
Finally, the café was a quarter-full. I glanced at a square clock on the opposite wall. Twenty minutes past seven. I couldn't believe it. Only fifteen minutes had passed?
'Aren't you going to get some orders?' Alice, returned to the shadowy corner after serving her first customer. Her cheeks were red with excitement. Lucky her.
'I'll be going any minute now.' I managed. The other waitresses, having noticed my apparent reluctance at doing my job, were giving me looks, especially Lauren. She seemed to get along just fine with Alice, though.
The café was filling up with chatter.
'OHMYGOD.' Alice whispered/screamed as quietly as she could. I glanced towards the front doors, and my suspicions were confirmed: Jasper Hale and another male friend had just walked through the front doors.
Alice was practically hyperventilating.
I could feel her shaking beside me.
'Go on.' I gave her a nudge.
Alice walked a few steps. Then she backtracked. 'I can't.' Alice said, stricken.
'You go!' Alice pushed me. Rosalie, Alice and Lauren were looking at us, cocking their heads towards the newcomers. Take their order, Rosalie whispered, red lips glimmering. I couldn't help but notice that when she bent down slightly to place a white mug on an old man's table, the sicko stared right at Rosalie's generous cleavage.
'I can't go!' Panic lurched.
Alice pushed, and I stumbled. I was out of the shadowy corner now. A few people had looked up to see what the commotion was about. I gripped the order pad very tightly. I felt it crumple. My palms were soaked.
The tables in front of me seemed to double in numbers.
The two men were sitting down now at Table 24. One of them was indeed Jasper, and the other was a gorgeous, bronze-haired man. All the more reason not to go there. I get rather tongue-tied around hot guys.
Well, it's now or never.
I took a deep breath, and took my first step, trying to squeeze past two tables. I shut my eyes, and wiggled the best I could. Nothing happened. No crashes, no loud complaints, no one protesting.
So far so good.
The two customers were still pretty far away. I carefully inched my foot past a table leg, making sure it didn't stray. Then the other leg.
I laboriously lugged my two feet across the café, feeling dizzy.
I shakily proffered my pencil and the order pad, silently thanking the gods, known and unknown, for this timely miracle. 'Can I take your order?' I asked weakly towards the two men. Both of them were looking at me amusedly. It's what most people view me as, though. A source of amusement in their everyday dull lives. A beacon of hilarity at someone else's expense.
'Took you a while, eh?' the bronze-haired one said cheerily. He was even more handsome up close. I blinked. His eyes were really, really shiny.
'Two strong coffees.' the other man, Jasper, said in a more calm, measured voice. I couldn't see how Alice thought Jasper and her were made for each other. They were both polar opposites. I pictured them both together in my mind. Alice, a mere five foot one, would look positively microscopic next to Jasper. I wonder--
I blushed, embarrassed. 'Sorry about that. Um, two strong coffees it is.' I hurried away, forgetting to be careful. My hip collided with someone else's chair and the person sitting on it lurched forward, choking on the bagel he was munching on. 'Mmmpghh.' he coughed.
'Damn it-- sorry sorry sorry,'
I walked carefully away.
'Two strong coffees.' I told Emmett, who immediately went to work at the coffee grinding machine. I was feeling dizzy with luck - back and forth this hazardous café without a single trip (I didn't count the bagel choking incident) was unheard of in my world.
A few minutes later, Emmett gave me the two white mugs. I gripped them securely, turned around and stared determinedly at Jasper and his very hot friend. They were still staring at me. Jasper had a calculating stare, his friend had a mischievous, almost wolfish stare. Even all the way from here I could see his eyes glinting with interest.
Alice, who was collecting a few empty plates, tore her eyes away from Jasper long enough to give me an encouraging thumbs up. Lauren, on the other hand, was giving me a surprisingly venomous stare. She was shooting daggers from all across the room. I averted my eyes.
I moved one step forward.
The brown frothy liquid in the mug jiggled. I could see my reflection in the coffee. The ripples in the accursed coffee seemed to twist my features, and an evil, demented Bella grinned back at me, saying silently you can't make it, you pathetic little creature. Just give up now, why don't you?
The coffee threatened to spill over.
I had no idea how long I took to get to Table 24. I triumphantly held out the two coffees like I had just won an Olympic event. 'I did it!'
'Thank you very much.' the bronze haired one.
I bent down slightly to place them on their tables.
And then disaster struck.
Author's Note: This is only going to be a two-shot/three-shot, if anyone was wondering :D