2008-09-08: Coffee and Coincidences


Marie Sophie_icon.gif

Summary: A coincidental crossing of paths results in some small revelations between strangers. Or: a curious therapist questions an unseasonably-dressed young woman. Psoriasis, indeed.

Date It Happened: September 8th, 2008

Coffee and Coincidences

Sugar Bakery

Brooklyn, NY

It is late afternoon, and the bakery has a good mix of customers. From housewives buying dessert or last minute baked goods for their child's class, to harried businessmen substituting coffee and a sugary sweet for an actual meal. And in the middle of it all, Sophie is walking in, fitting right in, except for that pair of thin black gloves that now almost feel like a part of her hands.

While Marie might normally be in the office at this time of day, she's opted to take some time off to pursue one of her few guilty pleasures: baked goods. Partly because she has an occasionally insatiable sweet tooth … but more because her day has been less than stellar — as anyone looking at her might attest to. Forehead creased and a hand planted at her temple, the off-the-clock, casually dressed woman looks stressed, for lack of a better word. Once just inside the bakery, she hesitates, eyes flicking to each of the customers in rapid succession with a steady deepening of that crease at her forehead.

Sophie rubs her forehead, a little sweaty given her out of season clothing choices. She looks relieved at the air conditioned interior of the bakery. She looks at the customers, then bravely saunters forth to take her place in line, looking up at the selections of thd day. She glances aback as someone new arrives, offering one of those polite, warm enough smiles of greeting.

Marie shakes her head as if to clear it, eyes sliding briefly shut. Breathe in; breathe out. After a beat, her hand drops and the furrowing of her brow fades, eyes opening just in time to catch the offered smile. Her smile is a tip-tilted echo of the same: friendly, warm, and polite all around. But then- ah, something seems to snare her attention and she slips into line behind the young woman, offering a conversational, "Bit warm today, isn't it?"

Sophie waves a hand at her face. She nods, "I guess its letting us know that summer isn't totally over yet." she chuckles, "I guess we will have plenty of cooler days soon."

"Summer does tend to cling as long as it can," Marie muses, head tilted slightly. "It's persistent in a way that autumn and spring never are." An appraising, inquisitive look is turned on Sophie — the gloves, the clothing, in particular, appear to be of interest to her. That furrowing of her brow re-emerges, but, as she opens her mouth to ask something — a half-formed "Ah-" — the line shifts, several orders being placed in quick succession to bring them closer to the counter.

Sophie looks relieved as she moves forward. She smiles and nods, "That may be true." she murmurs. She notices the glance. Maybe she's used to it, as she tugs a bit self consciously at her gloves. "I used to like summer more.." she murmurs, probably absently. Then realization strikes, and she says, "I'm thinking.. apple fritter."

"I've always been a winter person," is remarked with that same sense of absence. "Ah- I was going to ask if you were a bit too warm with the gloves and all," Marie begins, then offers a sympathetic smile. Wrenching her attention from the details, she fixates on the pastries while adding a low-pitched, idly-offered, "I have a patient who cannot leave the house without fully bundling up; poor girl can't stand the thought of people touching her." A slight nod acknowledges the young woman's pastry selection; she's still deciding, it would seem.

Sophie smiles a bit nervously, but she nods quickly. "Well, umm.. psoriasis." she offers. It seems an automatic explanation as she reaches the counter. "Coffee, please. And.. an apple fritter." yes, she decided to keep with that.

"Psoriasis." The word is repeated gingerly, feeling it out in a sense. But if she gathers it's a falsehood, she doesn't call the young woman out on it. There's a momentary flattening of her mouth into a line before it's restored into a friendly curve once more. "I'm sorry to hear that, ah-" she fumbles for a name she doesn't have and promptly laughs, softly, at herself. "I'm Marie." No hand is offered to shake, though that might be customary for her otherwise. A courtesy? "And you are- ? If you don't mind my asking, that is. I just hate being a stranger playing therapist, as it were."

Sophie seems grateful for the non-offer of a handshake as she grabs the coffee. She says, "Oh, yes, I'm Sophie. Sophie Petrov." she chuckles, warmly enough, especially given the rather poor attempt at a falsehood, "A pleasure to meet you, Ms…"

"Brennan. But, please, call me Marie." There's a slight lifting of her chin to catch the attention of the clerk, then a sidelong look back to Sophie. "Likewise, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Ah- there, I think, those people are going to leave shortly," one table is indicated, where an older couple is slowly working their way through a shared coffee and bran muffin. "If you don't mind company, that is?" Leaving that to Sophie, Marie turns her attention to ordering: a cheese danish, coffee, and two dozen cookies — the latter to go, of course.

Sophie smiles as she grabs her pastry. 'No, I don't mind, Ms… I mean, Marie." as she heads over, settling down in one of the chairs.

Marie acquires her order quickly enough and heads over as well, claiming the opposite chair and setting her bag of cookies on the edge of the table. "Ah, good. I'm sorry if I'm nosy, but-" sudden movement from the corner of her eye briefly grabs her attention and she's forced to shut her eyes for a moment to block it out "-ah, I'm relentlessly curious about people and why they do what they do. Who they are and why. People are endlessly fascinating — even if /they/ don't think they are."

Sophie says, again a little quickly, "Well, I'm afraid you'd find me pretty boring." she flashes a quick smile, then takes a sip of her coffee. OW, too hot. She winces, sucking in some air. "So, you're a therapist?"

Marie clucks her tongue in a motherly 'tsk tsk' sort of way. "Hardly. What sorts of hobbies do you have? Are you going to school? Do you have a job?" Questions, questions! Her coffee is allowed to hang out for a while to cool, though there's a slight wince as a reaction to Sophie's own; a mirrored reaction, almost empathic. "Ah, yes. It's hard to hide, even off the clock," she remarks with a wry curve of a smile.

Sophie chuckles, "You said something about it before… But hmm. I'm going to college, at NYU. I'm an undergrad, so just a lit degree, but I'm hoping to take library science when I graduate. And I work part time at a comic book shop." she has to grin at that idea. "Umm.. no real hobbies, though."

There's a roll of shoulders, setting her to lean slightly forward — interested, without breaking any personal space boundaries. "So, you enjoy reading? Any particular genres grab your interest?" Marie quirks an eyebrow with interest at the mention of comic books, eliciting, "Do you like comics? Or do you just work there?" There's a slight pause, then an added, musing, "Reading is, in itself, hobby enough for most people."

Sophie says, "Oh, well, I'm honestly not that much into comics." she admits with a laugh, "But I started working there to help out a friend, and it was a good part time job." she says, "Honestly, I'm mostly religion, history, poetry…"

Marie chuckles softly and with a slight nod of understanding. Her coffee is given a test sip and fails, as evidenced by the wrinkling of her nose. Just a bit longer, then. "Poetry-" is plucked from the list and given a thoughtful 'hmm'. "Any favorite poets?" The query is soon followed up with, "I've always been a fan of the, ah, epic types of poems — W. B. Yeats has one or two of the sort that I can recall."

Sophie smiles, "I suppose mostly the the pre-Raphaelites, the Romantics. I like Yeats, Shelly, Keats, but I love Swinburne."

Marie's brows lift slightly, "I don't think I've read any of Swinburne's works. The others- I have a veritable library of." Her mouth quirks slightly to a side, thoughtfully. "Do you write your own as well? Or do you just prefer to read it?" Inquisitive to a fault, this one.

Sophie laughs, "Me? No writing. I'd be lucky to finish 'roses are red' creatively. But I love reading it. Hmm.. Swinburne did a lot with mythical themes. One of his big ones was 'Garden of Proserpine'. It ends, "From too much love of living, from hope and fear set free. We thank with brief thanksgiving whatever gods may be.. That no life lives forever, that dead men rise up never. That even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea." she quotes.

"Words are like stitches; some people have a hand to lay them well … and others never gain the knack," Marie observes, her tone introspective. Silence, then, while she listens to the recitation, eyes fixed on Sophie throughout. "I'll have to pick up a book later; very interesting." A nod, confirming, is then given and she settles back slightly, allowing the topic to lapse for the time being. Instead, she reaches for the danish and proceeds to pull it apart, wondering, "When did you learn you had psoriasis?" And there's no mistaking, from her tone, the subtle upward rise of one brow, the simply *knowing* look that she acknowledges the falsehood that was laid from before.

Sophie was taking a sip of the coffee, then she looks up, quickly. She takes a breath. "Its not been long.. around a year. I guess I'm still adjusting to it."

A moment of mute contemplation is followed by a gentle, "I've heard it can be difficult to adjust to; sometimes, it takes years to properly acclimate, to understand it, to control it, so to speak." There's a peculiar twisting of Marie's smile, one corner of her mouth threatening to pull the whole thing into a frown. This is circumvented with a timely bite of danish. "How are you doing with it?"

Sophie looks at the gloves, "Controlling.. that's not been a viable option. Mostly prevention, really."

Marie considers the gloves, sympathy written on her face. "Sometimes, it just takes some focus — a few years of it, maybe twenty. Maybe more." Personal experience? "And sometimes, that's not enough. But, it's worth it to try. You'd be surprised what people are capable of if they put their minds to it. Giving in to fear- that isn't a viable option, either."

Sophie shakes her head, "Well, its not really a matter of fear, but function." she murmurs, "There are times when it isn't so bad. Even almost.. useful."

"But, the gloves say otherwise. Afraid of touching, of being touched because you don't think it *can* be controlled." Marie tilts her head, quizzically, to one side. The obvious question lingers, unasked; instead, she offers her own, "Sometimes, I get headaches; I have to shut my eyes in public places when there are too many people. But I don't allow my condition to prevent me from going in public, from leaving my eyes open." A hand flutters, sketching vague shapes in the air, sculpting words that she can't quite articulate.

Sophie clears her throat. "I think I understand what you're talking about. But.. my issues are a little different." she murmurs. "Touching can sort of.. set it off. So, this is more management."

Marie makes a thoughtful, therapist-y 'mmhmm' noise. "Well. If you ever want to talk about it or perhaps try to learn to manage it without," a tip of her head to the gloves, "I'd be willing to try. It might not be my specialty, but-" she trails off, leaving it there while she digs for one of her cards in her bag. "Did you have anything you wanted to ask me?" is offered up, perhaps to make up for her previous, incessant questions.

Sophie tilts her head, and says, "I'm just hoping we're talking about the same thing.." she says wryly, taking the card, "Or this will be a confusing meeting."

"We're speaking the same language, trust me. If there's one thing I know, it's language — the words might be different, but the meaning is the same." Marie chuckles, then gives her coffee another testing sip — this time, it passes and she takes a hearty swig. Ahh, precious caffeine! "Ask away if you want, or ask later, if you're so inclined. Or at three in the morning; whatever floats your boat, as they say."

Sophie lowers her voice then. She smiles a bit, "Language, hmm? I deal mostly with images and experience. Past experience, actually."

Marie tips her head in a slight nod, her voice reduced to the same, low tone, "Language. Spoken, written … or- well, I can tell you that gentleman over there," her gaze slants surreptitiously to a gentleman seated with a woman and engaged in low conversation, "is lying through his teeth to her based on his fidgeting. Cheating on her, most likely." Tsk, tsk. Attention re-centers on Sophie then, "Ah, and it's a tactile thing?" Curious.

Sophie nods as she murmurs, "Yes. If I concentrate, I can avoid it. But, well.. you can't concentrate all the time. So it isn't much use for things like jostling by people in a subway." wryly. "And when its automatic, I get to experience a person's most.. intense memory. Never much fun."

"Crowds of people are the worst." Similar difficulties, it would seem; just a different means of transmission. Marie crinkles her nose slightly. "So, you can't pick what you see? Just whatever is the most intense at the time to them?" She can't help it, really. At least she's mindful of where they are and keeps her voice sufficiently lowered. Fortunately with the steady influx of people, the ambient noise is decent for covering any such conversation.

Sophie keeps her voice low, "Only when its by, well, just brushing against someone like that. If its intentional.." she shrugs, "Then I can actually look for something specific, and store it, if needed." she makes a face, "I can erase and transfer too, but I really don't do that too much."

Marie is contemplative, mulling Sophie's words over with a slight knitting of her brows. "And in a few years, who knows what you'll be capable of?" The thought is a mild one, accompanied by a low chuckle. "Sometimes it's a gradual thing, sometimes it comes in a single burst — a revelation, if you will. But-" and whatever thought she was going to explain is interrupted by a trickle of a song from her bag. Her words turn into a wordless, apologetic look. Maybe if she leaves it alone …

Sophie chuckles. "Don't worry, its alright to answer."

"Are you sure?" But she seems to know, or at least can presume as much safely, so she reaches for the phone that's resting on top of the other flotsam in her bag. A glance to the caller ID tells her all she needs to know; she grimaces and pushes rather hastily to her feet. "I need to take this, I- really, I'm sorry. It was wonderful talking to you, Sophie and I hope we can talk again. Take care of yourself, okay?"

Sophie nods, "You too. It was nice meeting you." said with sincerity.

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