All Elbows Annie
Annie saw the trip coming before she actually fell. It was just the way her mind worked. She had her latte in one hand, her bagel in the other, and her oversized purse slowly sliding off her left shoulder. How many times had she promised herself to upgrade to a smaller one this month? The damned thing was a bottomless pit where keys, lipstick, and cell phone hardly ever escaped without a struggle.
As she strode past the café’s outdoor tables, a hideous woman sporting Tammy Fay Baker/Joker makeup turned to cough, and as she did, her little ankle-biter dog wiggled free of her clutches and promptly tangled its leash around Annie’s feet.
I always knew it would end like this, she half-joked with herself as she felt her legs go out from under her.
But just as she was certain that she was going to trip and fall to her left, a little boy burst through the door of the coffee shop and inadvertently shoved her forwards.
And this is why I don’t have kids, she thought wearily.
Her body was in the forward tilting position, when three still-hung-over frat boys appeared in her line of vision and she bounced roughly off the nearest one and momentarily regained her balance. That is, until one of the other frat boys took offense, and shoved her to the right.
“Watch it, lady!” she heard from her left side.
All the while, she had a death grip on her latte and bagel. Twice this week, she had been in a hurry and had had them both knocked out of her hands before reaching her car.
Not today, she thought as she lifted the latte up for a victory sip.
The dog barked loudly and she looked down. He had tangled his leash around her feet again. She reached down to untangle it when a breeze blew her hair and it got caught in the jacket of a woman walking by.
The woman immediately assumed she was being attacked. “Hey! Get off of me! You’re elbow’s hitting my ribs!
Annie had had quite enough by this point. She planted her feet, kicked the dog, and yanked on the woman’s jacket. The dog yelped and unwound itself from her feet. The woman’s sleeve loosened and she was able to pull her hair free.
She tried apologizing to the woman, but she had already beaten a hasty retreat inside the coffee shop.
She closed her eyes and caught her breath. When she opened them, she noticed that she was clutching her neck with her hands. Where exactly was her coffee and bagel? Had she dropped them? She narrowed her vision and realized that both her coffee and bagel were balanced on her elbows which were touching each other in front of her.
A gob-smacked jogger stopped in front of her. “Holy Hell, lady! That was amazing. I saw the whole thing. Are you an acrobat or something?”
She opened her mouth to respond, but the coffee began to teeter on her arm. She could see steam rising from the lid. It was still hot. Spilling it on herself was not something she was eager to do.
A man in a sharkskin shade business suit stopped on the opposite side of her from the jogger. He was on his cell phone. “Norm? I gotta let you go. I just ran into Annie from accounting. What? Yeah, she’s still kind of hot in that TV mom kind of way. No, man. I gotta go. She’s doing some kind of stupid human trick in the coffee shop parking lot. What? Because I gotta use the phone to film it, smartass!” He hung up and smiled with sadistic glee. “Annie, if you pull this off, I will never email you pictures of my wang covered in glitter at work again. Okay, do whatever whack thing you’re gonna do. I’m recording.”
The woman with the hideous makeup was walking straight up to her and she wasn’t slowing down.
“Lady, keep your dog away from me. Please.” Her arms were growing tired fast.
“How dare you!” Clown-Face barked. “Little Hans Christian Anderson took a liking to you and you have to gall to kick him? In front of all these witnesses, I might add.”
“You know what, lady?” Annie began. The bagel started sliding off of her arm and there was nothing she could do about it.
She let it drop and tried to hacky-sack-knee it up but ended up kick it right into the face of one of the loitering frat boys.
The coffee toppled over and she tried to catch it with her free hand. Instead, she only managed to backhand it right onto her co-worker’s cell phone, instantly dousing him and it.
The frat boy was on his knees, choking on his beer-tasting gum, and hurt pride most likely.
The co-worker dashed off to the coffee shop bathroom before the stains became permanent.
The dog, frightened to the point of hysteria, tangled its leash around its owner’s ankles, and she went sprawling into a nearby row of bushes.
Annie turned around and fully extended her arms in a mixture of relief, rage, and embarrassment. “Goddamn it!” she exclaimed, and slammed them right onto a tray of coffee and bagels being carried by a coffee shop employee.
The man was on his feet almost immediately. “Good lord, lady. We saw the whole thing happen. I put together some free coffee and bagels for everyone. But now…” His gaze fell to the tray of spilled coffee cups and dirt-covered bagels.
Annie noticed that one of the cups had miraculously not spilled. She scooped it up along with a bagel without so much dirt on it. “Thank you so much,” she said and meant it.
The employee just looked at her, unsure how or even if he should respond.
She quickly turned around and walked towards her car. She got inside and set her coffee in the cup holder and the bagel on the passenger seat. She started the engine just in time to see the little dog finish leaving a steaming turd on the hood of her car. She sighed, but decided it was par for the course on this morning from hell. She turned on the wipers and left the parking lot.
A smile crept across her lips. She was on her way to work, energized, with a full cup of coffee and a fresh bagel, without so much dirt on it.