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Learnings

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Early in the morning, before business picks up and she retreats to the back room, Nissa will often sit quietly behind the counter, enjoying Chandra’s company as she fills the silence with every thought that comes into her head. Usually they’ll have an hour together with barely a half-zombified (sometimes literally) customer walking through the door, but this morning was different.

One of their regulars, a wide-eyed courier called Ella who the two of them were rather fond of, rushed in in tears.

“He left me.” She wailed, throwing her messenger bag and slumping down onto a stool at the counter. “He said I wasn’t good enough, he said I wasn’t pretty enough, he said…”
“What? You’re kidding? That scumbag, I’ll-”
“Coffee, Chandra.” Nissa said, calmly. Chandra nodded, and got to work, while Nissa made her way around the counter to sit next to Ella. “I’m so sorry, Ella.”
“It was last night, he came over and…” She burst into tears anew, even throwing her arms around Nissa, who looked a little taken aback.
“He was never good enough for you, anyway.” Chandra half-growled.
“She’s right.” Nissa said, her voice level and quiet. “But what’s important right now is you, and you being okay. What does help look like?”
Ella sniffled, looking up at the her. “Coffee is good.”
Nissa smiled. “You’ll love this one, it’s from beans that I’m growing at home. The first of a new batch.”

Half an hour later, Ella was sent on her way for her morning deliveries with a second cup of coffee and an invitation to come back whenever she needed it. This would be the time when Nissa would head to the back room, but this morning things were a little different. She sat in silent contemplation as the world went by and the doors were half knocked off their hinges by the caffeine-hunting horde.

In a quiet moment, Chandra spoke. “You’re thinking about something important, aren’t you?”
Nissa didn’t open her eyes, “It’s just curious.”
“Go on.” Chandra replied. Nissa spoke at length infrequently enough that, when it seemed like she was about to, she hung onto every word.
“I can understand, perhaps, that someone might decide that a person in their life is not beneficial for them any more. After all, for me, even being around a person, there’s a high bar for it to be worth it...”
“You say the nicest things about me.” Chandra grinned.
Nissa, having spent enough time around Chandra to pick up just a few of her mannerisms, rolled her eyes. “But I don’t understand how someone can do that. Say those things, I mean. Switch so quickly from adoration to hatred, and, if they weren’t adoring in the first place…”
“Why not just be alone?” Chandra asked.
Nissa nodded.
“I wasn’t very good at being alone until you taught me.”
“And I wasn’t good at being with someone until you taught me.”
“Maybe they just have things to learn too, you know?”

Nissa stayed in the shop all day. Taking in everything, her eyes shut, listening intently yet for nothing in particular. Chandra couldn’t help but smile every time she looked over at her. It wasn’t until Chandra had shut the shop up that Nissa spoke again.
“I do enjoy your company, you know.”
“I know that.”

Nissa smiled, and silently headed upstairs.