Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chapter 2


An involuntary sound of disgust escaped Jessica’s mouth before she could do anything about it, and even though she was 98% certain it was inaudible over the noise coming from the steamer at the other end of the counter, Vanessa looked up at Jessica as if she had heard her. They locked eyes from across the room, and Vanessa’s narrowed slightly in her own display of their mutual enmity toward each other. In typical Vanessa fashion in order to prove that she was so much better than everyone else in the crowded little cafe, she pulled off her hat and shook out her long hair, letting it cascade down her back before she made her way toward a table. Much to Jessica’s dismay Vanessa approached Joseph’s table, and threw her arms around his neck.

“Joey!” Vanessa squealed in a pitch that was usually reserved for dog whistles and small children as she threw herself into his lap.

Seriously? Jessica rolled her eyes at the disgusting display of affection. She threw her head back and stared at the ceiling, diving back into the one-sided conversation she continuously had in her head with some higher being. Seriously. What did I do? Plaguing me with memories isn’t enough today? You have to throw HER into the mix too? Jessica ducked under the counter to pick up her books, grabbed her bag and threw it over her shoulder before standing back up. Turning around rather quickly, she almost ran straight into Rob who had come up behind her.

“You were nearly collision victim number 3 for the day. I’m on a roll apparently,” she sighed.

“It’s alright Jess. Everyone has those days. Thanks for your help,” he said as they both watched the obnoxious group of college freshman wannabes talk and laugh louder than necessary as they tried to push their way through the door and out into the never-ending blizzard. “I’ll grab your coffee and meet you in the corner, go ahead.”

“Alright. Thanks.” Walking around the end of the counter, she made her way to her chair in the corner. Sinking down into it for the second time today, she came to the unfortunate realization that Vanessa’s insufferable PDA session was directly in her line of sight. Wonderful. Should I just assume this is what the rest of today is going to be like? She thought to no one in particular. Jessica often had one-sided conversations in her head, and lots of unanswered questions floating around as well. It wasn’t that she was crazy or anything, it was just far easier to have silent, private conversations with herself than to converse out loud and endure strange looks from anyone in her immediate surrounding area.

Jessica did her best to avoid eye contact with Vanessa, which was nearly impossible as she was still in Joseph’s lap and his back was to Jessica, which meant that Vanessa was facing her and was free to smirk over his shoulder and gloat in her general direction, which naturally Vanessa was taking every opportunity to do. She hated couples being obnoxious in public normally, and the fact that it was someone she couldn’t stand made it even worse. Jessica wasn’t really a jealous person, especially when it came to relationships and guys. She tended to avoid romantic relationships with guys, and she had a pretty good reason for doing so even though no one but her parents and herself knew what it was. Guys, more specifically one ex-boyfriend, were the reason she had moved across the country in the first place. Of course no one knew that, though. Her parents had told everyone that Jessica wanted to move to Vermont for school, which was partially true. In addition to being an amazing graphics designer, she was also an incredible writer; anything from poetry to research papers, short stories to full length novels, and everything in between. She had actually written 3 full length novels over the last 8 years, although she really didn’t plan on getting them published or doing anything other than letting them sit on the top shelf in her room and collecting dust. During her freshman year of high school, her creative writing teacher had recognized her talent immediately, and sent off samples of her writing to various universities. The only hitch was that he hadn’t included Jessica’s age or class level because he knew the universities would ignore anything coming from below a junior year level. The University of Vermont had contacted her in regards to a full scholarship in the middle of her sophomore year of high school because of her writing, under the impression that she was a graduating senior. Needless to say, they were not so pleasantly surprised when they found out that she was, in fact, a freshman. When her parents had moved her up to Vermont that summer they had scheduled a visit with an advisor at the college, and it was agreed that they would hold a spot on the scholarship list for her until she graduated. If she chose to attend the University she would have a full ride for up to 5 years depending on her course of study, with virtually no strings attached. Of course school wasn’t the only reason she had moved. It was actually towards the bottom of her list of reasons for moving, but it was her excuse of choice since it was at least partially true. She was in fact currently enrolled at the University of Vermont, and when most people used to question why she moved a full 2 years before she would actually attend the school she brushed it off as a family decision, which again was partially true.

Still doing her best to ignore Vanessa’s constant and ridiculous stream of glares and sneers, Jessica pulled her laptop out of her bag again, followed by the workbook she had been missing earlier. She tried to curl up as far back as she could in the chair in a rather vain attempt to disappear from Vanessa’s line of sight, crossed her legs Indian style in front of her and balanced her laptop open on her knees. Flipping through the pages of her workbook, she found the pages that detailed what she would need to finish for her portfolio and set to work. After about ten minutes of juggling the book on the arm of the chair and her laptop in her lap she was ready to give up and move to a table. As much as she wanted to stay in her own private corner, she was going to have to give up a little bit of comfort in order to get her work done. She dog-eared the page in the book to remember where she was working and shoved it in her bag, saved what little progress she had made on her laptop and closed it without shutting it off. Usually she took immaculate care of her laptop, but for the roughly two minutes it would take her to commandeer a table and set it up again she was okay with the less than desirable method of transport. Looking around the cafe, she saw the only vacant table was, of course, the one adjacent to Joseph and Vanessa. Groaning inwardly, she had a quick mental debate whether or not she really needed to give up her comfy chair and be more efficient in finishing her portfolio. In the end her academic prowess won out over her emotions, and she packed up her books and made the move to the open table. Naturally Vanessa saw her moving, and took that opportunity to remove herself from Joseph’s lap and into the chair on the other side of the table. Vanessa eyed Jessica as she sat down, turned her gaze back to Joseph and launched into an obviously fake exclamation of her surprise to find him here.

“Joey, I just cannot believe that here, of all places, I would run into you! I mean, I had NO idea you’d be here. Unbelievable,” she cooed rather loudly at Joseph from across the table, making sure she was loud enough for Jessica to hear.

“Tessa, stop calling me Joey. You know I hate that. And why wouldn’t I be here? I’m always here between classes. You know that too. Must be a full moon or something, everyone is acting kind of strange today,” Joseph said, shooting a quick grin in Jessica’s direction that didn’t go unnoticed by Vanessa.

Jessica hated that she was still going by ‘Tessa’. Her real name was Vanessa, but during their junior year of high school she had managed to convince everyone that Tessa was a nickname for Vanessa, and insisted that everyone call her that because it was so much more mature than Nessa, which is what she had been called since her childhood. In Jessica’s mind, changing your name in an attempt to be more appealing to the public was quite dumb. It didn’t help that she also had a strong aversion to the name Tessa for some unknown reason. She really couldn’t place why, but she just didn’t like it. For once it had nothing to do with the fact that it was attached to the person she currently despised the most, but she let herself think that was part of the reason just to feel better about hating the name. To further prove her point, Jessica always refused to call her ‘Tessa’ during school and even now; she always used ‘Vanessa’, mostly to annoy her.

She smiled slightly at Joseph, and averted her gaze back down to the table where she continued to set up her laptop again. Another good thing she tried to convince herself of was now that she was at the table, she could use her wireless mouse instead of the trackpad on her laptop, which would make working in the design program a lot easier. She opened the laptop and connected her external hard drive, and set to flipping through the workbook again while she waited for the laptop to wake up again. Glancing at the screen as she laid the book down on the table next to her she saw a notification that a wireless internet connection was available, which was rather strange. Rob was slightly behind the times in terms of technology, and he had yet to succumb to the same pressure the leading coffee chain stores had and install a wireless router for the customers. She clicked on the connect button, and was pleasantly surprised to see the network was named ‘Rob’s place’. So he finally gave in. That could either be really great, or really horrible. Great in the way that people will be more inclined to come here. Horrible in the way that I now have an excuse to be ridiculously distracted from my homework. Jessica chose Rob’s network out of the list of available networks, and frowned slightly when she was prompted for a password. Looking around to see where Rob was, she found him with his back turned to the majority of the shop, tinkering with something on the back counter. She stood up a bit too quickly and knocked the table forward a bit, prompting a disgruntled look from the person sitting in front of her. She apologized quickly before making her way back to the counter, and did her best to pretend that she didn’t see the smug look Vanessa was aiming at her.

“Hey, Rob? When did you get wifi installed for this place?” she asked, startling Rob. Apparently he hadn’t heard her approach and wasn’t aware she was standing next to him.

“Holy cricket kiddo don’t do that to me. You’re gonna give this old man a heart attack. Now what’s this nonsense about wifi?” he turned around to face her, wiping his hands on the towel hanging from his back pocket. He didn’t believe in the uniform of aprons like his big-time competitors did, so he and most of his employees had taken to tucking a towel into their back pockets or over their belt to replace the formality of matching aprons.

“Sorry. I’ll try to avoid using my ninja movement skills when I’m around you,” she grinned. “Anyway, I started up my laptop and it prompted me to connect to a network labeled ‘Rob’s place’. Unless there’s another Rob who owns a shop with the need for a wireless internet connection, I was under the assumption that it was for this place.”

“Oh yeah. Forgot to tell ya about that. It’s not public knowledge yet, I want to make sure it works okay before we start advertising it. But I caved and went wireless for you kids. I figure it might help business a bit, and would make things easier for you since you usually spend so much time here,” he explained.

“That’s awesome, Rob. But might I suggest changing the name to something slightly less obvious than ‘Rob’s place’ as long as it’s still password protected? People are going to see the network show up when they try to connect, and will either be highly confused or slightly perturbed when asked for a password.”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t think I know how to change it. Had a hard enough time setting it up on my own. I should have called you,” he chuckled. Jessica smiled at him.

“I would have been happy to help you. I’m pretty sure I know how to change it, do you want me to take care of that for you real quick? At least until you decide you want to make it public.”

“Thanks, kiddo. That would be great. You know where it is in the back?”

“Sure do. I’ll let you know what I can manage,” she said.

Working her way through the maze of boxes and crates of various typical coffee shop supplies and mis-matched holiday decorations in the stock room, she squeezed through a doorway into the office and sat down at the computer. Rob had a PC and while Jessica was used to working on a Mac, she managed to navigate to the network settings and was able to figure out how to change the name of the network. A quick brainstorm session convinced her it was perfectly acceptable to change the network name to ‘Gryffindor Tower’. She went to save the changes and it asked for a password, which she realized she didn’t know. Crap. That’s a minor detail I shouldn’t have forgotten to ask about. Working her way back through the maze of supplies, she stuck her head out of the stock room door to ask Rob about the password.

“Hey Rob? What’s the password for the network? I need that to save the new name,” she said, leaning around the door frame.

Anderson. I wasn’t that creative with the naming. I’m not too great at that kind of stuff,” he said without turning to look at her. He was busy making drinks for a couple that was watching his every move.

Tourists. They never trust anyone. “Okay. Thanks,” she ducked back into the stock room and wove her way back to the office again. Plopping down in front of the computer again she began to type in Rob’s password, but changed her mind mid keystroke. Clicking out of the password request, she went back to the network settings page, and changed the password as well. Rob probably wouldn’t understand her naming logic, but she gave herself the okay to change the password to caput draconis. If anyone was able to guess the password, they deserved to be able to use the network. She saved all the settings, jotted down a quick note of the new network name and password for Rob and anyone else who would use it, and made her way back out to the shop.

“Problem solved. I wrote it down for you back there, because I know you won’t get the reference or remember what it is,” Jessica laughed, working her way out from behind the counter.

“I’m not even gonna ask. Thanks, kiddo,” Rob said as he handed the tourist couple their drinks. “Here ya go folks. Two large no foam, no whip, soy lattes with room for cream. Enjoy. Cream and sugar are at the end of the counter if ya need ‘em.”

Jessica and Rob watched as the couple in the matching scarf, glove, and hat set made their way to the end of the counter to add to their already strange concoction. Jessica preferred her regular coffee black, occasionally with a bit of hazelnut coffee cream. She didn’t understand why people wanted some of these crazy drinks. Most of them didn’t even taste like coffee when they were done, but supposedly that was the point.

“Anyway, I renamed the network ‘Gryffindor Tower’. The password is ‘caput draconis’. I know you have no idea what that is, but it’ll be hard for anyone else to figure out unless they understand the reference. It’s on a sticky note by the computer in the back, just in case. I know Eric will get it, but he’ll probably be the only one.” Eric was one of Rob’s employees, probably the only one who wasn’t in it just for a seasonal job for some extra money. He had been working for Rob for almost 6 years, and wasn’t about to leave anytime soon.

“Whatever you say, Jess. That’ll work just fine until we make it open to the public. Thanks.”

“No problem. I’m gonna go back to pretending I’m doing my portfolio while being distracted by the newly installed internet connection.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

!!! This is amazing, your like writing a book on blogger its so good, and your writing is lovely, i love your technique, i cant wait for chapter 3. SUBSCRIBED!