©2021 R.G. Ryan
Eyes full of wonder she stood in front of the cooler staring at the vast array of drink selections.
The managed chaos of an unusually busy morning at my favorite coffee shop swirled around her unnoticed.
Five years old.
Curly black hair.
Porcelain skin set off by a little button mouth.
Well on her way to being a heartbreaker.
She cast her eyes briefly in my direction, grinned and turned away as if embarrassed by the contact.
“Daphne,” came a mother’s impatient plea from the register “hurry up and pick something.”
“I can’t,” she wailed. “There’s too many.”
“There are a lot of people waiting to order. Now come on, we don’t have all day.”
“Mom,” said Daphne, stretching out the single syllable into, “Maw-awhm!”
“You heard me, little missy. Let’s go.”
Daphne sighed and opened the door to the cooler.
With her left index finger firmly affixed in the corner of her mouth, she reached for a bottle, drew her hand back; reached for something else, drew her hand back; reached yet again only to have the same result.
“I can’t,” she said turning around to stare balefully at her mom, who, by now, had abandoned her place in line and was walking purposefully over to deal with her indecisive daughter.
“Why do you do this to me?” she said disgustedly.
“I can’t help it if they put so much stuff in there,” Daphne said in her defense.
The mom gave me a long-suffering look, and with a shake of her head squatted down so as to be on Daphne’s level.
“Look, you know you’re going to get the same thing you always get. So why don’t you just get it and we can be on our way?”
Daphne looked at her mom, and then at the drinks inside of the cooler.
“But what if I want something else this time?”
“Fine,” said mom. “Whatever you want. Just pick something.”
“Okay,” Daphne said reluctantly.
Mother and daughter turned their collective attention to the cooler and after several minutes of thorough investigation Daphne finally made her selection.
“I told you,” said mom, who stood to her feet and said to me, “Same thing she always gets. What a surprise.”
Daphne turned toward me and held up her drink as if for my approval.
I gave her a thumbs-up and a smile.
When they turned back to re-enter the line, they found that it stretched literally out the door, which caused mom no small amount of consternation.
“Great,” she groused to her daughter. “Look at the line. Now we’re going to be late for sure.”
Undaunted, Daphne took her drink and marched boldly toward the front of the line where she stood next to a business man who was busily talking on his iPhone.
Yanking on his pants leg she said, “Hey.”
Following a hasty, “Just a minute,” spoken into his phone he looked down and said somewhat impatiently, “Yes?”
“Can I have cuts?” Daphne said sweetly.
At first he looked at her and then at her mom with an, “Are you kidding?” expression, which slowly melted into one that said, “You can have anything you want, sweetheart,” as he experienced the full force of her smile.
He motioned with his hand that Daphne should go in front of him while saying to the young lady behind the counter, “Looks like you’ve got a paying customer here.”
Mumbling a hasty apology Daphne’s mom paid for her drink, apologized to the man again who assured her that it was absolutely no problem.
As for Daphne, she turned, smiled up at the man and said, “Thanks, mister.” Then she leaned around a merchandise table, smiled and waved good-bye to me, returning my “thumbs-up,” and led her mother out of the store having logged yet another conquest.
Did I say a “future” heartbreaker?