Chuck Gowers showed up for another day at work at the Corvus Coffee Roasters. He walked in an hour after opening, wondering if she would be there.

“Hello, Chuck,” said Gabrielle Lewis. His question was answered in the affirmative, and this was good news for him. He looked over by the roaster, and she walked out from behind it with her trademark smile.

“It’s good to see you, Gabrielle,” said Gowers with a big smile on her face. “How was your weekend?”

“Just fine, how was yours?”

“I can’t complain, but I have to get to work.” Gabrielle went into the office and finished up the paperwork duties the manager first assigned her a few weeks ago, and Chuck went up front to wait on a customer. Gowers called Gabrielle Lewis the finest girl he had met in a long time. He told himself time and again that she was awful hard not to be in love with. Gabrielle – who had an American father and a Japanese mother – was cute, always in a good mood, a good co-worker, and had a way of making a guy feel that he was special, or very special.

She emerged from the office in the back and walked behind the counter with Chuck. This was a great thing, because Corvus’ business picked up at this time. There were the older ladies that wanted their beans to take home and the younger people coming in for their morning coffee and trying to do some studying or working.

A little unexperienced, Chuck started a few weeks ago, and Gabrielle helped him through the customers – some happy, some not so happy, and some just plain weird. However, they both rang in, served up, and did everything else that was necessary to make their shift a success.

“Thank you so much for everything,” Gabrielle said. “You’ve improved a lot from a few weeks ago.”

“Well, I do all that I can,” Chuck said. “A guy has to earn his living someway.” She continued to smile in the way she had since he met her, and he was taken with her beauty on that day – just as he was taken by it on any other day. By this time, his mind had become obsessed on one thing – he wanted Gabrielle Lewis to be his girl! This would make himself the happiest man on the earth!

Gabrielle walked toward a container of coffee mugs that had to be taken back to the dishwashing area.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said Chuck. “I can get it.” Chuck enthusiastically grabbed the tray as a new customer walked in.

“Thank you, Chuck,” said Gabrielle. “You’re the best.” Chuck picked up the bus tub of coffee mugs and continued to dwell on what she said – you’re the best. He loved hearing it, and he thought that Gabrielle was the best as well. Chuck could help her out with her work all day long, and it wouldn’t seem like work. He had never met a girl so sweet, cute, and everything else positive that life had to offer. Her presence could cure the headaches in life.

The two finished up a typical day at work. As Gabrielle left, Chuck ran up to her.

“Gabrielle, it was nice working with you today,” he said. Chuck said the same thing every time they finished working together.

“Likewise,” she said and then walked out the front door. “And I want to thank you for being
so awesome.”  Gowers watched her walk away and wondered when they would work together
again. It wasn’t the same when he pulled a shift without her.

Chuck returned home and spent some time writing a short story on his IBM ThinkPad that he purchased online used for 100 dollars. Gowers had six published short stories, two essays, and dozens of works of journalism. Of course, his pay for writing was meager. He was also an adjunct professor in English and writing at Lake Wood Community College. The three jobs meant a small studio apartment, a used Toyota Prius, and a little extra money saved each month for the future. Chuck finished working on his short story, and then, his mother called. She wanted to know if he could meet his two aunts for dinner a week from now.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” he said.

“So, how is your love life?” his mother asked. She always asked the same question every time they engaged in a conversation, and he grew very tired of it. Couldn’t she ever ask about his writing, teaching, or even his job with the coffee roaster?

“Oh, it’s kind of the same as it always is.” This meant awful, because he had had a bad string of luck with girls in the last few years. “I love my job at Corvus. It’s a lot of fun. I work with this girl named Gabrielle Lewis. She’s so nice. In fact, she’s just great. I just wish she would love me unconditionally for the rest of my life! I would do the same for her!”  Gowers told his mom this, because he didn’t feel safe telling anyone else. “Maybe I need to sit on a shrink’s couch, I don’t know. She’s just so, so sweet, Mom.” His mother told him that there were no guarantees in the type of co-worker relationship he was in.

The next time he worked at Corvus Coffee Roasters, an hour went by, and there was no Gabrielle. Another hour went by and there was still no Gabrielle. She didn’t show up on that shift. This made him nervous. She was probably not scheduled, but he didn’t want to ask any of his co-workers. However, what if she quit? Then he would most likely never see her again. That would be tough. He thought he would spend day after day wondering where she was, but at the same time, telling himself that he didn’t know her well enough to go look for her.

Luckily, Gabrielle worked on his next shift. Therefore, Chuck was treated to his Gabrielle high. As always, the shift was wonderful with her there. Her presence made the whole experience of a boring job better, and she complimented him on the job he did more than once during the shift.

After his shift, Gowers told himself, as he opened his apartment door, that his world would be so much better if he knew Gabrielle much, much better. He loved seeing her, and he knew she enjoyed seeing him. When they worked together, they were so productive. However, he had to know if he could push things to the next level. Chuck wanted to ask her out, but there was a   certain amount of turmoil there in that he couldn’t control what she would say.

Being a writer, Chuck knew how to manage his thoughts and feelings. He had to write, and the essay was a perfect form for the situation at hand. After class the next day, he went to The Coffee Bean, grabbed a cup of coffee, and fired up his ThinkPad. He took a few sips of coffee, thought a bit, and then started writing.

“Humans have all kinds of goals and aspirations in life,” Chuck wrote. “For me, it’s becoming more productive as a writer and furthering my teaching career. One can do that alone if they dedicate themselves to the craft of either writing or teaching. However, man wasn’t meant to be alone. A vast majority of the humans on this earth want to be with somebody; they want to be in love! In a world where life deals most of us awful blows, love is a break from the normal. Love, when it is truly experienced, brings us a constant in a life defined by unrest. Most of us dream of having someone who will love us unconditionally. Loving unconditionally is the most desirable type of consistency one can have. It also helps when the object of our love makes us feel like we’ve entered a world a lot better than the one we’re in. I’ve found such a person.” 

Chuck proceeded to write about Gabrielle using a different name, of course. “Her name is Becky,” Chuck continued to write. “In order to support my writing habit, I work a job totally unrelated to writing, and she works at this job in the service industry. Like any service job, it takes a lot of teamwork, and this means you know your co-workers. Becky is the best co-worker one could have. She makes me feel good about myself, something that goes a long way. Since I’m a writer, I am used to dealing with rejection and know-it-all editors. She gives me feelings of specialness in a world where few of us are special.

“All humans need to feel special, because to feel isolated is to feel like you’re not a human, and we all need someone to share our lives with. The feelings I’m writing about are not something that are measurable by the methods of science – they are metaphysical. I think that man discovered the metaphysical world by observing the physical world. He looked at the world and saw things he didn’t like. So, he constructed a world using his imagination – something metaphysical, or beyond physics; man used his imagination to weave stories about things like divinity and love – this made the world a better place. I think my world will be a better place if I can have Becky; my own ideas of what love should mean – which come from my imagination – would help build a world that is good for the two of us.”

He looked at what he had written and thought it was good. It took his world and weaved it with concepts that were high minded and otherworldly. It was good but needed some work, and Chuck didn’t know how to finish it just yet. Gowers took a sip of his coffee, then looked around at all of the characters that occupied the place. At that time, he was tired and wanted to go home and climb in bed. He had to work at Corvus Coffee Roasters tomorrow. He would ask Gabrielle out, and this would provide him with more material for his essay. There would be an end to the story.

After teaching a basic writing class, Chuck went to Corvus to start his shift. He knew she would be working. They discussed it on his last shift. However, he didn’t see her there. It disappointed him, but it also took pressure off of a potential rejection. He figured she might have been sick or something.

Then, she walked out of the kitchen. Dressed it a red t-shirt and blue jeans It was so simple yet so Gabrielle. Maybe not beautiful in a lot of people’s eyes, but it was in his! She walked over and started cleaning the espresso machine. Gowers walked over to her to ask the big question. 

Gabrielle looked straight into his eyes as he walked up to her. It was a wonderful feeling for Chuck. He had the feeling that the whole thing was going the way he wanted it to.

“Gabrielle, I think you’re a great girl,” he said. “I enjoy working with you.”

“And I enjoy working with you as well,” she said with a big smile on her face.

“I wanted to ask you something. Would you go out to dinner with me this Friday?”

“No, I’m sorry. My boyfriend wouldn’t like that very much.” The smile left Gabrielle’s face.

She knew and liked Chuck as a co-worker, but she didn’t want to extend things beyond that level.

“OK,” said Chuck. He immediately walked away from the scene of the rejection.  Then, Donnie Woods, Gabrielle’s boyfriend, walked into Corvus and gave her a hug.

“Was something going on?” Donnie asked.

“My co-worker Chuck just asked me out, but I’m taken.” Gabrielle kissed him. Chuck told the manager he was sick and left for the day, so he wouldn’t have to face her. He didn’t have the mental strength to finish the essay.