Brown Eyes

“Taeng, one iced caramel frap to go! Less whipped cream and caramel drizzle!”


“Aye aye Yul!”


Taeyeon grabbed a plastic cup and began preparing the drink. When the drink was done, she placed it at the collection counter and called out the name on the cup.


“One iced caramel frap to go. Name’s Jess.”


A young girl in a white hoodie stepped forward to pick up the drink. Normally, Taeyeon would simply say a quick thank you and continued to fulfil the rest of the drinks order. However, there was something different today.


Though their eye contact was brief, Taeyeon was certain she saw the most beautiful pair of brown eyes and it belonged to the hoodie girl.


Taeyeon hadn’t realised the girl was gone until she felt a tap on her shoulder. A tall girl with sun-kissed skin was standing next to her and giving her a stern look.


“Taeng, no time to be day-dreaming right now. There’re many customers waiting in line. I need you to step up to clear the morning rush hour crowd.”


“Sorry, Yul. What’s next?” Taeyeon appeared slightly flustered as she scrambled to prepare the next drink order.


Over the next few days, Taeyeon noticed the same hoodie girl ordering the same drink with the same request. Unfortunately, she had no time to look out for her due to the morning rush hour crowd. By the time she heard Yuri, the supervisor, barking out the orders, the hoodie girl had already stepped away from the counter and among the crowd. The only times Taeyeon saw that beautiful pair of brown eyes were during the drink collection. It was brief but it became the highlight of Taeyeon’s busy morning.


One day, Yuri called in sick due to a bad flu and Taeyeon had to do cashier duty instead of making the drinks. The butterflies in Taeyeon’s stomach grew as time past. She was feeling nervous at the thought of meeting the hoodie girl face to face. In the end, her nervousness was forgotten as she got busy handling the morning rush hour crowd.


The morning rush hour crowd was finally thinning. Taeyeon heaved a sigh of relief when she managed to have a chance to take a breather. While drinking from her bottle of water at the back room, Taeyeon heard one of the baristas calling her name and informing her of an incoming customer. Putting her bottle back into the locker, Taeyeon hurried out to the cashier to take the customer’s order.


“Good morning!” Taeyeon greeted in her usual chirpy voice.


The next instant, Taeyeon’s heart skipped a beat. Standing in front of her was the hoodie girl. It was the first time Taeyeon saw her up close. There was a rush of happy feelings through her body. Taeyeon felt a little light headed but managed to keep her composure.


“Morning, I would like …”


“An iced caramel frappuccino with less whipped cream and caramel drizzle on the top,” Taeyeon grinned. “Take away right?”


The hoodie girl was a little taken aback. She nodded with a smile.


Taeyeon scribbled the order on the cup. Her heart was pounding faster with every second. She could smell the scent of wisteria wafting through the air and was sure it came from the hoodie girl’s perfume.


“It would be five dollars,” Taeyeon paused. “Jess.”


“Ah.” The hoodie girl handed over a five dollar note.


“You come in so often, so I’m familiar with your order,” Taeyeon explained. “Your drink will be ready in a jiffy.”


Taeyeon turned around to prepare the drink personally. It wasn’t the first time Taeyeon prepared this drink order but somehow it felt different this time.


“Hey, didn’t know you like this type of girls,” Yoona teased, giving Taeyeon a quick nudge. “I would have thought you would go for the more out-going sort.”


“Would you mind moving aside so that I can finish the customer’s drink?” Taeyeon playfully nudged Yoona in return as she put the plastic cover over the drink.


“One iced caramel frap to go!” Taeyeon beamed, looking in the hoodie girl’s direction.


“Thank you,” the girl said.


“You’re welcome.” Taeyeon couldn’t take her eyes off the hoodie girl as the latter exited the store.


Not only does she has the most beautiful pair of brown eyes, she also has the most adorable smile.  Taeyeon thought to herself.


“Hey, someone’s smiling to herself.”


Taeyeon’s train of thoughts was broken by Yoona. She hurriedly slid past Yoona and returned to the cashier counter as there was another customer who just walked in.


“Someone’s blushing,” Yoona said aloud.


Taeyeon ignored that comment and focused on serving the next customer.


The following day, Yuri was back at the store. Since she hadn’t fully recovered, she preferred to be preparing the drinks while wearing a mask instead of talking to customers. Hence, Taeyeon was put on cashier duty again.


Taeyeon easily spotted the hoodie girl as she entered the store to join the queue. While serving the other customers, Taeyeon often stole a glance at the girl. She noticed the girl looked a little despondent.


When it was the girl’s turn, Taeyeon asked if it was her usual order. The girl merely nodded slowly and took out a five dollar note to pay. The girl’s eyebrows were knitted in a frown. Wanting to cheer her up, Taeyeon scribbled a few words on the cup.


Your smile is the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.


Reading the words again, Taeyeon felt they were too cheesy and she took a brand new cup and scribbled a new phrase on it.


Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.


Satisfied with this quote from Mark Twain, Taeyeon proceeded to prepare the drink.


At the collection counter, the girl took the drink without her usual smile and left the store. Taeyeon wondered what had happened.


Since then, Taeyeon would write short encouraging notes for the hoodie girl whenever she visited the store.


Late one morning, Taeyeon heard Yuri barking a familiar order. She spun around and saw the hoodie girl standing in front of the cashier counter.


“Taeng, go prepare Jessica’s order. You know what it is.” Yuri threw a wink at the shorter girl.


Jessica. Ah, so Jess is short for Jessica. Taeyeon thought to herself as she prepared the drink.


Just as Taeyeon set the cup on the table, Yoona snatched it away from her.


“Hey,” Taeyeon called out, wondering why Yoona did that. She saw Yoona hurriedly placing the clear plastic cover over the cup and handing the drink over to Jessica.


When Yoona turned to face Taeyeon, the shorter girl demanded to know why she snatched the drink away from her, depriving her of a chance to talk to the hoodie girl.


“It’s for your own good, Taeng.”


“What?” Taeyeon was left standing at her spot while Yoona disappeared into the back room to take a break.


It was a hot Saturday afternoon. The store wasn’t crowded, presumably because people didn’t want to go out in the heat. Therefore, Taeyeon was surprised to see Jessica at the store. The regular customer usually visited the store on weekdays only. Seeing Yuri was in the washroom, Taeyeon hurried to the cashier counter to take her order.


“Good afternoon, Jessica. It’s nice to see you on a Saturday afternoon,” Taeyeon greeted. She immediately regretted the second part of the sentence. It sounded a little too cheesy.


Jessica smiled, the same adorable smile which Taeyeon loved. The only difference today was that she wasn’t wearing a hoodie. Jessica had a loose denim blouse with a white tank top and a pair of skinny jeans. Her long brown hair wasn’t hidden behind the hood. The luscious hair cascaded down the sides of her face and past her shoulders.


“Good afternoon…Taeng?” Jessica greeted somewhat hesitantly.


Taeyeon was surprised at Jessica’s informal way of calling her nickname. Then she realised that she had not formally introduced herself to Jessica and that was the name which her colleagues used. Even her name tag had the single Korean word ‘Taeng’ on it.


“My name’s Taeyeon but you can call me Taeng since everyone else does,” Taeyeon grinned.


“Ah, I’m sorry, Taeyeon.”


“Taeng. Call me Taeng. You’re such a regular here, I feel that you’re more like a friend than a customer.” The words poured out of Taeyeon’s mouth before she realised it.


Jessica let out a giggle. “Alright, Taeng.”


“The usual, to go?”


Jessica shook her head.


“No? What would you like to have today then? Since it is so hot outside, how about trying our new summer fizz?” Taeyeon suggested.


“Sounds good. I’ll have it here.”


Taeyeon went about preparing the drink and ignored the constant giggling from Yuri and Yoona.


Jessica took a seat at the table near the window. She plugged in her earphones and was reading something off her iPad. Taeyeon couldn’t help but look in Jessica’s direction every now and then.


“Someone’s lost in love,” a voice whispered next to Taeyeon. Both Taeyeon and Yoona were leaning against the cabinet and watching Jessica.


“Sheesh, I’m not, Yoong.”


“Someone’s crush is sitting in the store but that someone has no guts to approach her.”


“Aish, Yoong. Stop sprouting rubbish.”


The next moment, Yuri instructed Taeyeon to sweep the floor as it was getting messy. Another colleague Sooyoung, who was supposed to be on cleaning duties, seemed to have conveniently disappeared from the store. Little did Taeyeon realised what her colleagues had up their sleeves.


Taking the broom from the cupboard, Taeyeon started sweeping the floor. As she got nearer to Jessica, her palms became a little sweaty. It felt a little awkward sweeping around Jessica though there were a few pieces of used napkins on the floor.


“Ex-excuse me,” Taeyeon said almost inaudibly.


It dawned on Taeyeon that Jessica was listening to music and probably couldn’t hear her. She tapped the table lightly and it caught Jessica’s attention.


“Hi.” Jessica looked up from her iPad and wondered what Taeyeon wanted.


“Hi. Act-actually, I’m sweeping, I mean of course I’m sweeping since I have the broom with me, so ya, I’m cleaning…”


Jessica let out a giggle.


Oh my, even her giggles are the cutest thing I have ever heard.


Jessica rose from her seat to allow Taeyeon to clean the rubbish under her table. Taeyeon caught the scent of wisteria and it gave her butterflies in her stomach and sent tingles down to her toes.


Taeyeon swept under the table quickly and apologised for making Jessica stand while she cleaned.


As Taeyeon walked away, she heard Jessica calling her name. Turning back, Taeyeon came face to face with the pair of beautiful eyes yet again. It was her first time seeing them up close. She also noticed Jessica’s neatly trimmed eyebrows, Jessica’s sharp nose and Jessica’s full lips.


Taeyeon had to use all her might to pry her eyes away from Jessica’s face lest the customer thought she was a pervert for staring at her for so long.


“You called me?” A redundant question.


Jessica nodded, a shy smile forming on her face.


“I’m wondering what time you would be done with your shift.”


For a moment, Taeyeon was certain she misheard Jessica.


“What time are you off work today?” Jessica repeated.


“Me?” Another redundant question.


Jessica laughed. “Yes, you.”


“Oh, haha.” Taeyeon rubbed the back of her neck and was hoping for a hole to appear on the floor so that she could sink into it out of embarrassment. “I’ll be done at 1pm.”


Jessica bit her lips as she worked out her schedule mentally. Meanwhile, Taeyeon was grabbing her broomstick tightly, trying not to hyperventilate.


“Would you like to go for a late lunch?”


The broom slipped from Taeyeon’s hand and almost landed on the floor if not for her quick reflexes.


Taeyeon’s eyes were as round as plates. She couldn’t believe her ears.


It was then Jessica pushed a slip of paper across the table. It was a handwritten note and that handwriting was strangely familiar to Taeyeon.


My friend Taeng would like to get to know you better. How about making a new friend via lunch? She’s working this Saturday.


Suddenly, every piece of the puzzle made sense to Taeyeon. Now she understood why Yoona snatched the cup from her the other day and why Yuri insisted on asking her to sweep the floor today.


“I don’t mind making a new friend. Or in your eyes, I’m already a friend right?” Jessica smiled broadly.


Actually I would love to make you more than just a friend. Taeyeon said in her head.


“Of course, you’re my friend. Err, friends should get to know each other better. To become better friends,” Taeyeon added.


“So…lunch later?” Jessica smiled softly.


Taeyeon nodded shyly. “Yes, definitely.”


= The End =




A/N: Happy 2015 TaengSic Day! The story is inspired by the prompt about working in Starbucks and writing notes on the cup and the song ‘Hey Brown Eyes’.