Running Late
rating: +17+x
“Fifteen years,” Bev Green muttered to herself.

“Fifteen fucking years, and never so much as a moment late,” the minotaur fumed as she rushed through her morning preparations. The sound of whirring blades drowned out most of her anger as coffee beans were pulverized into gritty powder. She grabbed the nozzle of the grinder and gave it a few quick thumps; emptying the remainder of the grounds from the chute and onto her apron. Bev put her hands over her face, and allowed herself a quick groan before discarding the apron onto the floor. She didn’t have time for this. She didn’t have time for any of this.

Breve “Bev” Green had owned and operated the Green’s Pastures café for the past fifteen years, and in all that time she had never opened even a minute late. The doors were open at 7 am, ready to serve anyone and everyone who could find the Way to her. It was a safe place for people of any species, creed, or universal origin. She had regulars who came in nearly every day, she had patrons who held study halls and scripture readings out on her patio. She had a community that depended on her to always be there, smiling and serene.

But that was every other day, today Bev was a hurricane. There wasn’t much prep to actually be done, there never was really, but that didn’t matter. Bev was behind schedule; twenty-eight minutes lost and all because she had turned over and hit the snooze button without even meaning to. Fifteen years of perfect punctuality was going to be lost all because of twenty-eight insignificant minutes. Bev obsessed over this as she took the trays of pastries she had prepared last night out of the fridge. Her concentration was eventually broken by a sharp, shrill cry from across the bar.

Bev looked in the direction of the sound and saw her assistant, if Bart could even be called that, with his snout firmly lodged in the exit chute of the coffee grinder. She dropped the tray of muffins and rushed to save the miniature drake, her progress being swiftly halted by her discarded apron and subsequently gravity. Once upon a time, Bev had been the kind of woman who would be able to take this in stride. She would have picked herself up and gone on like nothing ever happened. That time was roughly twenty years prior.

Bev laid on the floor of her café for a moment, unsure if the popping sound she had heard was her hip or Bart having dislodged himself. The sensation of warm, coffee-scented scales against her arm thankfully confirmed the latter to be true. Bev lifted her head and stared into the eyes of the pudgy lizard, and she was rewarded with kisses from his oddly sticky tongue. Bev lifted the beast above her head and laughed and he waved his stubby legs around, confused as to why he was suddenly in the air. Bart didn’t know it, but he had made Bev’s miserable morning just a little better. Sadly, this bliss wasn’t meant to last.

A bell chimed over the front door of the café, indicating that someone was on the other side of the Way. Bev stared at the door for a second, then looked back to the blank-eyed drake now sitting on her chest. The bell continued to chime as Bev stood up, taking extra time to return Bart to his place of honor on top the brewer. The drake watched her as she smoothed out her shirt, fixed her hair, and finally as she made her way over to the door. Bev Green took a final deep breath before putting on her best smile and opening the door to say,

“Sorry y’all, but we’re going to need another thirty minutes this morning.”
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