Chipped

Northwest Portland 
#1
 It was more diamond in the rough than anything else, a little storefront in the business district that seemed to be cut from a cloth best suited for quainter, more free spirited surroundings. A lot of light, soft music, plants, to go cups with paper straws for the chilled drinks - a mismatched array of curated, thrifted porcelain for those who took their coffee or tea for here. But a quick glance out the windows tinged the illusion with ease, buses with billboards pasted across their bodies, suited business folk, the occasional homeless. Not a slice of heaven, just a chance to duck inside and enjoy some relative peace and a questionably priced latte.

 Still they were in the home stretch before the evening rush, her least favorite part of any working day. Just before men and women trudged out of their cubicles and offices moody and tired, demanded to go cups for the ride home and pocketed their change. Even so, she knew the routine well enough that she went to clean up on the floor, batten down so to speak before the worst of it.

 Collecting cups in a plastic bin that needed to be watched, hesitating in front of a table for one that seemed to have finished but hadn't quite cleared out just yet. Without gawking she tried to get a closer look at the teacup, one brow arching as she nodded towards it. "Do you plan to order another or would you like me to take that for you?"
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#2
Riley was finally finished with her work shift at the zoo and she needed an afternoon pick-me-up before she went home. The morning had started at 4:00 AM and she was more than happy to get done after nearly 12 hours of work. It had been a long day and she had made sure to text Raymond and ask him to let Jasper out for her. Thankfully, Jasper and his cat Luci got along.

She was lost in thought, her finger gently running over the top of the tea cup, looking out the front window at the business stores beyond. She saw people in suits, dresses and pants and here she was in lavender, short-sleeved scrubs (and a white, long-sleeved undershirt) with a small smudge of blood on her left thigh. She had been taking care of one of the Fennec foxes who had cut his paw on a rock in his exhibit. Thankfully, they got to him before he damaged it further.

The sound of someone’s voice brought her back to the present, turning her head to look up at a young woman collecting dishes in a plastic tub. "I-I’m sorry. What?" she asked before she took the time to actually piece together what she had been asking. Before she could say it again Riley shook her head, pulling her hand back and into her lap. "Yes, sorry I was just lost in thought. You can take it," she said, color staining her cheeks.
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#3
 The boon of the cafe was in part the mask, the cover of strong brewed coffee and tea, the cleaning supplies in the back, A mask that buffered out the white noise conglomeration that was the effects of the outside world. Still, up close and personal it wasn't hard to pick up on something ... different, here. Not the usual mix of cleanliness found on nurses and doctors coming fresh from family practices and more peaceful hospital wings. Enough to make her stare, frowning when it seemed like she would go ignored and softening when the woman snapped out of it.

 "You're good, we've all been there - long day?" Mindless but easy enough small talk as the cup sang a little as it rattled on its saucer before she sat it neatly in a corner of her bin. Having chipped and shattered enough cups and plates to mind her strength and take note of her placement of things.
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#4
Riley offered the woman a smile laced with embarrassment, her pale cheeks heating. She leaned back in her chair, biting her lip to keep from offering the woman any help. That was her problem: she was just too nice. "You could say that. What about you? I hope your shift’s over soon...?" she subconsciously covered the blood spot with her hand, crossing her legs at the knee. The girl seemed so young and so cautious making Riley think she was new.
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#5
 She exhaled, as if she had just returned home after a long and exhausting day - glanced back to the clock and shrugged the slightest bit. "Over the hump at least, I try not to clock watch as much as I can. Makes it a little more tolerable." Some distant tendril of thought acknowledging that it sounded like a complaint about the job. Drowning the impulse to back pedal as she shifted her hold on the bucket and where it pressed against her side.

 Instead it made more sense to pile on top, build layers instead of attempt to undo what had been done. Feeling as if perhaps she had rattled her as much as any porcelain, pursing her lips as she tried not to read too far into it. "Sure you don't want anything else? The brownies are pretty bomb and I think we have a corner piece left today, but don't quote me."
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