“My mother named me that because that’s what she thought when she first saw me. Not full and wholesome like a full moon, not dark and serene like a cloudy night when you can’t see a moon at all. A crescent, a little sliver of person, not whole and not nothing.”
My mother named me that because that’s what she thought when she first saw me. Not full and wholesome like a full moon, not dark and serene like a cloudy night when you can’t see a moon at all. A crescent, a little sliver of person, not whole and not nothing. Pale and so close to being gone that you can barely tell I’m there.
I haven’t changed since then in terms of appearance. I still look half-made, like someone didn’t put enough detail into my features, or if someone’s printer ran out of ink. I’m slim and short enough to curl up into a little ball underneath my bed, which is what I would be doing right now if it had snowed enough to give us a snow day and no homework. I have short, dark brown hair—pixie-cut-short—and light blue eyes, which sounds pretty, but it’s not—it’s like when you blot blue watercolor and most of the color fades and you have to try again. I know because my mother told me. She seems to know everything.
“Next,” the barista calls, and I step forward and order my drink.
The barista is pretty cute. Long brown hair, almond-shaped green eyes, tall and slender and full, not like me. Her name tag reads Elizabeth, but then I see that someone—presumably the girl, though it’s hard to tell—has crossed that out and then, in red Sharpie, written Chimes. I vaguely wonder how Chimes came out of Elizabeth, but then she’s asking for my name and I have to give it to her.
“Crescent,” I say, nearly wincing at the sound of it. I hate it. It matches my personality too much, my half-faded features, my voice, my everything. I hate my name. I hate it I hate it I hate it, and I can’t get rid of it.
The barista seems unfazed as she scribbles it down on a pink Starbucks cup and tells me my total. I hand her the cash, take the change, and walk down the room, my boots making a thud-thud, thud-thud sound on the tiles. I bite my lip, wondering if maybe I should’ve chosen to wear flats today, or sneakers, or anything that made less noise.
I walk back to the table I’ve dumped my backpack, coat and scarf, and violin case at, and sit down, waiting for my drink. There’s really no point in standing at the counter for the twenty minutes they take to fix a single mocha.
So, of course, they call the drink I ordered five minutes later (why did they even bother to call my name, anyway?) and I’m already deep into my homework. I’m closing my Mac laptop and standing up when I hear a deep male voice say, “Oh, I think that’s mine.” I swivel my head around and am just in time to see a tall, large, bearded man take my drink and sit at a table. I bite my lip and get up. I’m about to tap the man on the shoulder when I think, I probably shouldn’t bother him. He’ll enjoy that drink.
That drink that you paid for, a snide little voice in the back of my head reminds me. I push it aside and glance at the barista who took my order who is now doing something on her phone, apparently not caring about the long line winding around the room. I bite my lip.
I have two options here. I can either defy everything my mother has ever told me my whole life—don’t say anything unless it’s a matter of life or death, and even then no one probably cares—and ask either the barista that the man took my drink or I can tell the man that he took my drink and ask that he pay for a new one or whatever people are supposed to do in a situation like this, or I can wait in the—I count the people quickly in my head—thirteen-people line and order and pay for a new drink.
Hmm, I think bitterly. Which one is Invisible Woman going to choose?
I don’t even need to think twice—I get in the line and wait.
When the barista sees me, she smiles. “Not satisfied with your drink, huh? Yeah, the drinks here are shit. Cookie?” She nods to the snacks.
“Um, no thanks…can I have another—”
“Tall mocha? Yes ma’am.”
“How did you—”
“Remember your order?” The barista-or Chimes, I suppose, laughs. “To be honest, I don’t completely know. Maybe it’s because you’re cute as hell?”
I feel myself blushing and hate myself for it. “I’m—I’m not—”
“Not lesbian? Sorry.”
“No—not cute as—as, well, hell. Um—can I just—”
“Oh, yeah.” She pulls a cup from the stack next to her and takes her red Sharpie out from behind her ear. “Crescent, right? Memorable name.”
“Yep,” I mumble. “Especially when it matches everything true about me.”
Chimes raises an eyebrow but stays silent, just scribbles my name on the cup and passes it down to the people making the drinks. “There you go, Crescent. Can I call you Cress?”
“No. Anyway, you won’t have a reason to,” I point out. “I never come to this Starbucks.”
“Well, maybe you’ll have a reason to,” Chimes says, and I shake my head and move down. “Why are you getting another drink, anyway? I never asked.”
“Oh…” I shrug my left shoulder. “Some guy took the first one.”
“His name is Crescent, too?” She grins. “Weird.” I open my mouth to respond, but she shakes her head. “No, I know. I’m not as stupid as I look.” She grins again. “Everyone always says that.”
“I don’t think you look stupid,” I say before I even realize there are words coming out of my mouth.
Chimes smiles. “Aww, that’s sweet. Thanks. Anyway, why didn’t you just tell him it was yours and have him buy you a new drink?”
“Hey, it’s okay.” She raises her voice. “Hey, guy with the tall mocha.” The guy turns around, along with a few other customers. “Yes, you. You took this girl’s drink.” I feel my cheeks warm.
The guy stands up immediately. “Did I?” For what must be the first time, he turns the cup to look at the name. “Oh gosh, sorry. Do you want me to buy you a new drink?”
“You don’t have to—I mean, that would be nice, but—I can buy another one, it’s fine.” I force a smile.
“Are you sure?”
I make the smile a little bigger and nod. “Yeah, it’s fine. Um…” I never know how to end conversations, but the middle-aged man makes it easy by smiling and sitting back down. I can tell he’s relieved that he didn’t have to spend four more dollars on a coffee he wasn’t even going to drink.
I turn back to the counter.
Chimes looks confused. Very confused.
“What the hell was that?” She asks, her eyebrows wrinkled. “Why didn’t you make him pay for another drink?”
“It’s not worth it,” I mutter. “You saw how relieved he was. He probably has a wife and kids.”
“He comes here every day,” Chimes says tightly. “He has three girlfriends and a cat named Chester. He owns two mac computers and an iPhone. I think he’s pretty well off. If you’re rich enough to own that and come to fricking Starbucks every day, then I think he can pay for one more drink.”
I shake my head and smile despite myself. “How do you even know that?”
“Just look at his email. It’s obvious.”
“Obvious. Right, Sherlock.”
“It’s elementary, Watson.” A small smile tugs at the corner of Chime’s lips, but she presses her lips together and forces herself to frown. “Here’s your drink.”
I smile slightly. “Thanks.” I take the drink and walk away.
“That’s it? That’s all?” I turn around and face Chimes.
“What else do you want me to say?”
Chimes shakes her head. I sit down and watch her take the next order.
I pull my laptop out of my backpack and tuck my hair behind my ears. My email is already open, and from what I see in front of me, my best friend Rebecca (also known as Becca) has emailed me seven different times about various things in the last half hour. I sigh like I’m annoyed to have so many emails from her, but in reality, I love Becca. She’s been my best friend since second grade when I accidentally hit her in the head with my extremely heavy second-grader backpack going down the stairs to dismissal and she went tumbling down the last two flights. She ended up with a slight concussion and a couple of rather impressive bruises. I refused to go to school for three days after that, and then Becca’s mother called mine, saying Becca was wondering why I had been absent those few days, and that she hoped I was okay. That’s pretty much how I made my first friend.
I’m jerked out of my thoughts by my phone ringing. I groan inwardly, mostly because I recognize the ringtone. It’s a Bruce Springstein song, which means only one person can be calling, and that’s my mom.
I dig it out of my pocket and answer it. As always, my mother is first to speak.
“Hi, Crescent!” She says in the obviously fake-energetic voice she always uses with me. “I was just wondering where you were. You’re usually home by now.”
As if you care, I think to myself. I speak into the phone, “I’m just at Starbucks, mom. The one I usually go to near school was jam-packed.” True.
“Oh! I was worried. You’re usually home by now.” She’s said that twice now.
As if. “Yeah, I know, I just didn’t want to have to go through all those people and wait a while for my drink.” True.
“Got it. What time are you going to be home? I’m starved, do you think you can be home by six?”
“Yeah, I just decided to do homework. That’s also why I’m still here.” False.
“Oh, okay. Pick up some milk on your way home, okay? We’re almost out.”
I swallow. “Okay. Anything else?” The line buzzes. She’s already hung up.
I roll my eyes and slip my phone into my pocket again. I have better things to do than to talk to her. Like look at my seven emails from Becca.
So I do. As it turns out, Becca is only emailing me about homework. I respond to her quickly and pack my things. I slide into my coat, buttoning it up, and wrap my scarf around my neck. I pick up my violin case and head out the door. I look back at the counter. Chimes is sitting on a stool, feet up on the counter, scribbling something on a cup with a red Sharpie. She looks up and catches my eye, grins, and shows me the cup. She’s sketched a rough scene that probably takes place somewhere in Central Park—rocks next to a lake with a bunch of rowboats. Two girls—me and her, I’m assuming—sit on the rocks. She holds up a finger, and I wait. When she shows me the cup again, there’s a crescent moon above the scene. I smile a little and push open the door.
I guess it wouldn’t really hurt to come back to this Starbucks tomorrow. And who knows? Maybe I won’t be as much of a nobody.
I’m named that because that’s what I am. Not full and wholesome like a full moon, not dark and serene like a night without any moon at all. A crescent, a little sliver in the sky, not whole and not nothing but still something, still bright and beautiful. Still giving light. Still a moon.