“Thank you” Daniel barely glanced up over his book it was an automatic
response to hearing the refill at his arm. The woman returned to the counter considered leaving her pitcher next time if he
was going to empty the cup so fast What did catch his attention away from the page looking up hearing someone in conversation
with their mobile phone
“I needed those notes, I can’t finish this without them, you knew that”
Daniel small smiled hearing resigned sigh from the woman at the table in the window he let his fingers fold upper corner
current page so he wouldn’t lose his place as he only pretended to read more interested in the conversation he could
only hear one side of.
“Yeah sure, thanks. I’ll remember this when it’s your final paper next semester!” The woman
promised before closing the little mobile and dropping into her open bag satisfied only by the thump of it hitting the papers
and other clutter already there as the caller had been such a disappointment.
Daniel thoughtfully drained his cup and watched as the woman shuffled papers with preparation to leave her table
and the coffee shop. He cleared his throat just as she shifted in chair to get up
The woman looked his way in surprise
“what?” He motioned with free hand towards her table.
“Isn’t that yours?” They both looked under table at the book.
“Oh, right, thanks”
she stooped retrieved it from the floor stuffed into her bag through the half open flap at its front.
and religion?” He questioned book title.
“You can read upside down that’s nice” She didn’t
seem inclined to chat moved towards the door again.
Daniel didn’t know why he was so interested in her plight until the book title he had noticed reminded him
of another book title from a long time ago. He could remember those occasions when needing help in his coursework for college!
Was it cosmic balance time?
“If you’re relying on that for your exam paper you won’t get the result you want,” he warned
Woman raised brows looked his direction properly this time “Are you a lecturer at the college or something?”
Daniel had her interest by association with the research topic
“No, but you’re studying in my area of work”
he smiled and gestured for her to come closer, moving his own book, tray, coffee cup etc aside to make room on it
“I can’t stay, I’m supposed to be somewhere” but she was approaching the table her fingers
on the back of the other chair pulling it towards herself.
The man recognized her book he had an opinion of its author, one she also shared, not very positive. He seemed her best
chance of getting this paper finished, if he could help her why not? They were in a public place, she wasn’t concerned
and for some reason his face had that honest look on it
“My name’s Daniel and you are?”
“Megan, what can you tell me”
Down to business, he could appreciate that. Daniel pushed his book into coat pocket pleasantly surprised when she questioned
establishment of dynasty?”
“You can read upside down hieroglyphs. Isn’t that nice”
It was impulsive and he somehow knew she wouldn’t offend easily.
She blushed with smile, recalled her cutting
remark earlier “Sorry I get tetchy when in the last phase of something”
“Me too. Maybe I can help you,
but it’s been years I might be a little rusty” His eyes let her know this wouldn’t be the case
you’ve been off the planet not much has changed in the last fifteen years, believe me” she dryly assured silently
appealing towards the coffee cups on his tray.
Daniel coughed slightly, little would she know the truth where he had been, even the past week in fact. He caught
the attention of the barista who came to the table with metal pitcher. Leaving the entire full pitcher on the table this time.
The woman had witnessed both customers' drinking habits in the past two hours, she knew it would soon be empty. Megan was
pleased to recognize the aroma was her own preferred brand. She might just like this guy if he could help
her paper and
drank the same coffee she liked too!
“Well where can we start, I don’t want to cut into everything if you’re sure you have a central
Daniel spread out her papers, looking at them with a nostalgic view of the writing style; so like his own
as a student; lots of heated debate in these words!
She sheepishly summarized for him “I always have that right off.
My research is the problem. I’m lacking some era specifics” directed with pen at one of the paragraphs needing
“Let me see now…” He absently spoke aloud, already had a good example in mind to provide her with
for changing this section. She poured into both cups so Daniel wouldn’t have to divert attention away from his reading,
feeling slight self conscious to have someone else reviewing her work in its rough state.
Daniel was delighted by the impression
he got from the theory. If Megan was typical of the future generation maybe Earth stood a chance to become part of those elite
races after all He saw potential. They would end up arguing before this was completed he knew that - who accepted criticism
of their work without some defense of it? -and they would need sustenance for the duration.
“Do you have any allergies before I order?” Daniel tried to think what on the shop menu contained nut…
I don’t think so” surprised out of her reverie from his murmuring in reading her papers. Megan thought she heard
Daniel say “aha” and it was in the good tone of voice which made her believe she had the right idea with her proposal
in that page.
“Good. How about cinnamon toasties? “ Daniel gestured ‘two’ for the barista then
pointed out a sentence on the next page “You need to change this here or they’ll read it as arrogant” he
Megan frowned followed his finger to the sentence exasperation in her voice “How else do they expect…?”
cut in with sigh “Believe me I know but it’ll prevent dramatics later on” He dismissively explained they
were both keen to move forward find the next statement
“You do know Dr Ward,” she amused took Daniel’s
prophetic remark as confirmation he had worked at the college at some point if he could predict how her lecturer would objectively
grade her paper
“Not personally, but I’ve met his type before, in various wor- uh, countries” Daniel
hastily corrected himself surprised how easily he almost gave away national security It was the topic of debate in front
him on paper he reasoned energized his thought processes forgetting who he was talking to.
“They have cherries, excellent!”
Megan hadn’t registered his verbal slip up attention being on the tray she approved of the shop’s presentation
of the snack food and enjoyed the sweet garnish to her plate.
“This might take more than one evening, you said you
had to be somewhere” Daniel reminded her.
“I can reschedule” she cheerfully assured but sobered from cinnamon enjoyment as a thought occurred to her
“I don’t want to keep you from any appointments”
His coat and suited appearance told Megan Daniel wasn’t a
student (nor a lecturer anywhere) probably on his
way out of town or something.
“I finished what I had to do today, this place was the much needed coffee break”
Daniel didn’t elaborate and Megan chose not to pry. She had noticed a crumpled open white tissue paper packet inside
his coat pocket with the book Daniel stowed away earlier
“Whatever you can do I appreciate” Megan clicked her
pen to red, prepared to make adjustments according to Daniel’s verbal instruction
“I don’t mind, it’s
a blast from the past actually” he confessed and couldn’t resist a smile recalling Megan’s book how
she hadn’t retrieved it from her bag, he was pleased to note, she had taken his advice and was not using it now.
if I don’t get that A plus I know who to blame” she teased and mentally blamed the cinnamon for making her speak
It was easy to forget Daniel wasn’t a student like her as they worked on the paper, arguing over the words in editing
He didn’t act surprised more like he was used to the level of interaction
“This means a lot more to you than the stuffy academic opinion of a single grade mark” he practically read
her mind - un nerving for Megan to be treated with respect on her work
“I have plans, but they’re not limited
to this town” she admitted wondering why she was telling him.
“Is that your phone?” Daniel bemused by
the tune emanating from her bag under their table.
“Ah, excuse me” she blushed hastily fished it out of the bag opened before the electronic chorus could begin!
now you want to help” Megan wasn’t in the mood to talk, she had better company for a change “Keep your notes,
I won’t need them. Get well soon won’t you” she drawled and finished the call feeling better this time about
dropping her phone back into the bag
Daniel turned the page they continued the corrections with no further interruptions.
With Daniel’s help Megan was confident of not just this one paper getting good marks but her whole perspective
on the course was now improved as well. They would have a better rough draft before the shop closed that night and Daniel
let Megan know when he would next be in town (on Earth), reassured it would be before next week when she was due to hand in
her final draft.
Cinnamon toasties and coffee had never tasted better!