I needed hot water. There she was, daunting, but feeble. An impassable figure in my path to being sated once more, mocking me. Her back against the wall, her feet spread across the sidewalk—as if she were basking in some radiant thought of being a modern Mona Lisa.

“I don’t need it that much, I’ll just wait,” the echoes of the lie bounced around in my head. As I listened to her regale stories of her summers as a younger woman, painting pictures with her words to friends, and any passersby, I couldn’t say I wasn’t impressed. She was a remarkable storyteller, her cadence hitting every mark—her words a metronome.

She is now my mortal enemy.

The plot has begun, how will I evade this woman’s position with minimal confrontation? She is notably beautiful for her age. She is elegant, and has a vocabulary that seems to extend just as far as her body—which is still blocking my way.

She changes positions, and begins to walk slightly, now is my chance. Quickly, with no intentional grace, I stand up—a soldier called to attention by his General.

I make my way inside, prepared for satiation, licking my lips with anticipation. As I make my way to the counter, a familiar figure juts in front of me, a calculated step, no doubt. “Just a cup of the Ethiopian, for here,” her voice all the same as before. “You know I remember before this place was here,” she begins, and now the man behind the counter and I both are drowned by her siren song.

I shake myself out of it, shifting anxiously behind her, trying to catch the edge of her vision just enough to encourage an end to this story. She finishes, an end to her epic tale of past years and establishments before coffee shops. She turns around, smiles and lets out a quiet apology, she hadn’t seen me waiting. Her voice softer, but still just as lovely as before. “That’s okay,” I respond with as much sincerity as I can muster. She walks out the door.

My mind jostled by the events of the last 10 minutes, as they seem to stretch a lifetime. I felt as though this woman was timeless, perhaps a feigned spirit, drifting from place to place, enticing anyone who listens. It was all over now, but I could still hear her, almost recounting the entire body of her performance in my head.

I walked back outside, satisfied—prepared for the next turn of my page. As I came around the corner, there she was, standing in the same spot, blocking my way once more.