“Don’t you have to be dead to be an angel?” I said.
“Now, Addie,” she scolded. “Do I look dead to you?”
I looked at Christina to see if she was catching this, but Christina was over by the exit, putting a new bag in the trash can.
Mayzie took my lack of response as permission to continue. “It’s a program called Angels Among Us,” she said. “I don’t have to get a degree or anything.”
“There’s not really a program called that,” I said.
“Oh, yes, yes. It’s offered at Gracetown’s Center for the Heavenly Arts.”
“Gracetown doesn’t have a Center for the Heavenly Arts,” I said.
“I sometimes get lonely,” she confided. “Not that the Silver Sneakers aren’t wonderful. But sometimes they’re a bit”—she dropped her voice to a whisper—“well, boring.”
“Ohhh,” I whispered back.
“I thought becoming an angel might be a nice way to connect with others,” she said. “Anyway, to get my wings, I just have to spread the magic of Christmas.”
I snorted. “Well, I don’t believe in the magic of Christ-mas.”
“Sure you do, or I wouldn’t be here.”
I drew back, feeling somehow as if I’d been tricked. Because how was I supposed to respond to that? I shook myself and tried another tactic. “But . . . Christmas is over.”
“Oh, no, Christmas is never over, unless you want it to be.” She leaned on the counter and propped her chin on her palm. “Christmas is a state of mind.”
Her gaze dropped below the level of the counter. “Goodness gracious,” she said.
I looked down. “What?”
The top corner of the folded-up sticky note was sticking out of my jeans pocket, and Mayzie reached across the counter and plucked it free. The gesture was so unexpected, I just stood there and let her.
“‘Do not forget the pig,’” Mayzie said after unfolding the note. She tilted her head and peered at me like a little bird.
“Oh crud,” I said.
“What pig are you not supposed to forget?”
“Uh”—my mind was jittery—“it’s for my friend, Tegan. What drink can I get started for you?” My fingers itched to untie my apron strings so I could go on break.
“Hmm,” Mayzie said. She tapped her chin.
I tapped my foot.
“You know,” she said, “sometimes when we forget to do things for others, like this Tegan, it’s because we’re too wrapped up in our own problems.”
“Yes,” I said vigorously, hoping to dissuade further discussion. “You want your usual almond mocha?”
“When actually, what we need to forget is ourselves.”
“Yes again. I hear ya. Single shot?”
She smiled as if I amused her. “Single shot, yes, but let’s mix it up this time. Change is healthy, right?”
“If you say so. So what’ll it be?”
“A toffee nut mocha, please, in a to-go cup. I think I’ll take in some air before Tanner comes back for us.”
I relayed Mayzie’s order to Christina, who had slipped back behind the counter. She whipped it up and slid it over.
“Keep what I said in mind,” Mayzie said.
“I’m pretty sure I will,” I said.
She giggled merrily, as if we were in cahoots. “Bye, now,” she called. “See you soon!”
As soon as she was gone, I tore off my apron.
“I’m going on break,” I told Christina.
She handed me the steamer. “Rinse this out for me, and you’re officially free to go.”
I set the steamer in the sink and twisted the faucet. As I waited impatiently for it to fill, I turned and leaned against the sink’s edge. I drummed my fingers against its metal rim.
“Mayzie says I need to forget myself,” I said. “What do you think that means?”
“Don’t ask me,” Christina said. Her back was to me as she blew out the steam wand, and I watched the puff of steam rise above her shoulders.
“And my friend Dorrie—you know Dorrie—she kind of said the same thing,” I mused. “She said I always have to make things be about me.”
“Well, I won’t argue with you there.”
“Ha ha,” I said. I grew uncertain. “You’re kidding, right?”
Christina looked over her shoulder and grinned. Her eyes widened in dismay, and she gestured furiously. “Addie, the . . . the . . . ”
I twisted around to see a sheet of water spill over the edge of the sink. I jumped back, yelping, “Ahhh!”
“Turn it off!” Christina said.
I fumbled with the faucet, but water continued to pour into and over the sink.
“It’s not working!”
She pushed me aside. “Get a rag!”
I dashed to the back room, grabbed a rag, and dashed back. Christina was still twisting the faucet, and water was still pouring onto the floor.
“See?” I said.
I wormed in and pressed the rag to the sink’s edge. A second later it was soaked, and I had a flashback to the time I was four and couldn’t turn the bathtub off.
“Crap, crap, crap,” Christina said. She gave up on turning the water off and applied pressure to the spurting faucet. It squirted past her fingers in an umbrella-shaped arch. “I have no idea what to do!”
“Oh, God. Okay, um”—I scanned the store—“John!”
All three Johns looked up from their corner table. They saw what was happening and hurried over.
“Can we come behind the counter?” John Number Two asked, because Christina was hard-core about customers not coming behind the counter. Starbucks policy.
“Of course!” Christina cried. She blinked as the water sprayed her shirt and face.
The Johns took charge. Johns One and Two came to the sink, while John Number Three loped toward the back room.
“Move aside, ladies,” John Number One said.
We did. Christina’s apron was soaked, as was her shirt. And her face. And her hair.
I pulled a stack of napkins from the dispenser. “Here.”
She took them wordlessly.
“Um . . . are you mad?”
She didn’t respond.
John Number One hunkered down by the wall and did studly things with the pipes. His Tar Heels cap bobbed as he moved.
“I didn’t do anything, I swear,” I said.