Home > aurals, short > Together or Separate

Together or Separate

Originally posted to TeeBeeDee as a short writing assignment: http://is.gd/4170

“Please Seat Yourself,” Chloe read the sign. As she looked around the room again, she said, “Please seat myself where?”

As if in response, a waitress in a light brown dress trimmed in white, bustled by saying, “Sorry, dear. Very busy this morning with registration and all,” refilling a coffee cup and turning to attend to another table, “Keep an eye out. I’m sure someone will leave shortly.”

Again, as if on cue, the four people at the second table from the door, on her right, began shoving their chairs back and standing, scooping up backpacks and piles of books. Never meeting their eyes, Chloe began walking slowly in the direction of the table. During her wait, she saw the custom here included waiting patiently for when a table’s occupants make ready to leave, then casually meander toward the table to claim it. After staking the claim, the new occupants bus the table and clean up while they await the waitress to notice the pile of dishes and come by to take their order. Chloe sets her backpack in a chair and wipes out another before sitting.

Beginning to stack the dishes, Chloe looks toward the door to see a girl, about her age with blonde hair and green eyes hovering near the sign, obviously looking for a place to “seat herself.” Feeling generous, she stands and begins waving the girl over.

Beth, having walked in just as the brown haired girl, before her, took the only available table, looks about the cafe in vein, and curses her luck. Just about to give up on the idea and find somewhere else to have her morning coffee, she spots the girl standing and waving her over. Looking around to verify that she is the target of the wave, Beth walks over to the table, “Are you waving at me?”

“I’m alone. If you’d like to share this table, you’re welcome.”

“Thanks a bunch. I’m Beth.”

“Hi Beth. My name is Chloe.”

Beth drops her books into another chair and wipes out the last before sitting and helping Chloe clean the table.

The dishes piled at the edge of the table, Chloe begins, “Beth, is it? That’s a lot of books. Have you already registered?”

“Yeah. I just got out. I was in line at five thirty this morning. If you are not there first thing when the doors open, you might as well plan on the whole day. Is this your first time?”

“Yep. I am scheduled to register in the morning. You say to get there early? The notice I got said to be there by nine, so I had figured if I got there by eight thirty, I’d be OK.”

“Nah. I’d suggest you get there as early as you can. Once the doors open, all bets are off and appointments are just suggestions anyway.”

“Thanks a lot. I’ll do just that,” looking around, Chloe continues, “I just wish I could get some coffee.”

“You said it. Without my coffee, I am barely a person.”

“Excuse me. Are you about to leave?”

Beth and Chloe look up to see another girl, about their age, struggling to get her straight black hair out from under the strap of her, obviously overloaded, backpack.

Chloe says, “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“I’m sorry to interrupt. I was just asking if you were about to leave. I see the dishes and there is no other place to sit, so…,” trailing off, the new girl leaves the question hanging in the air.

Chloe looks at Beth and raises her eyebrows. Beth catches the unspoken question and nods. Chloe drags her backpack out of its chair and drops it on the floor by her feet, “We’ve only just arrived ourselves, but you are welcome to join us, if you’d like.”

“Oh! If you’re sure it’s alright.”

“We’ve only just met. I’m Chloe. This is Beth.”

“Thank you, Chloe. My name is Drusilla, but my friends call me Dru.”

Sitting in the offered chair, Dru half waves across the table, “Nice to meet you, too, Beth.” Looking from Chloe to Beth, “What does a girl have to do to get a cup of coffee in this town?”

The waitress in the light brown dress hustles up to the table, scoops up the pile of dishes, and taking a rag from her apron, gives the table a quick wipe.

“Hello dears. Will this be together or separate?”

“Together,” Dru announces to the stunned silence of Beth and Chloe, “It’s the least I can do to thank you for sharing the table.”

“What can I get you?”

The emphatic plea erupts in unison from the trio, “Coffee!”

“Coming right up,” the waitress snickers as she turns and heads for the kitchen.

The trio stare at each other for a second and burst out laughing.

Dru looks from Beth to Chloe, “OK. I’ll start with the obvious. What’s your major?”

Beth pipes up first, “I’m a psychology major.”

Chloe bursts out, “No Way! I’m registering tomorrow as a psych major.”

Dru looks between Beth and Chloe again, “What are the odds? I just completed my registration. You’ll never guess.”

Beth and Chloe, in unison, “Psych?”


Awed silence covers the table, for a moment, at their realization.

The waitress hurries up to the table, places a cup on a saucer in the middle of the table and fills it with coffee, before dropping a spoon next to it and hurrying away.

The trio stare at the cup, the steaming coffee still threatening to slosh over the edge as it rocks back and forth in the cup.

Tentatively, Dru offers, “Um, maybe I should have said separate?”

The trio bursts out laughing again.

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