I stared into my black coffee.

The black tar tasting liquid rippled to the same beat my foot tapped against the center leg of the table while my iPod blasted upbeat techno into the cheap dollarstore buds that rested in my ears. After all these years living on this rock with humans nothing compared to the buzz of energy that radiated from hearing a favorite jam shuffle onto my playlist.

Okay, maybe there were two things…

Across from my table at the small bistro off of Main and Queen, a young man sat hunched over tapping away on his cellular contraption. Never had much interest in getting one of those devices – never saw the point. I understood the benefits sure, but I didn’t have friends or family to really justify the outrageous amount of mullah needed to have one of those things. Then again, I’m a different breed… an older breed that remembers a time when these finger tapping screen junkies were working themselves to the bone to survive.

It wasn’t his obsessed typing that caught my attention, though.

In the big city watching the crowds of people – just like you – sucked into their 300 dollar mini-computer was a common sight. It was how he was typing… what he was typing that intrigued me.

While humans searched for answers in words written on a tiny glass screen I found my answers in their body language.

He was too busy to notice the young waitress deliver his latte, not because he had to get to the next level of Candy Crush but for a more personal reason.

The wincing of his brows, the sniffling of his nose… the slight glistening of tears that he held inside as to not make a scene in public were what I saw. The biting of his tongue, the frustrated pulling of his hair and the panicked look around the bistro before forcing himself to take a sip of the latte to try and calm himself – were all I needed to know.

I knew what the kid was going through. I had seen the same painful expression on hundreds of human faces. Although I could hear him screaming out in his head for help, there was no need to listen to the details.

     Mom. Sick. Hospital. Not much time.

     Humans make connections with each other. They depend on one another and strive to impress each other. That’s something my kind never cared for. My kind were independent beings; some stuck in crappy jobs, while others – like myself – had the luck to go out on their own.

A freelancer, some could say.

I listened to the boy. He was like a broken recorded with his thoughts, and although I loved to have helped him right then and there, there are some rules a freelancer like myself needs to follow.

     Accident. Life support. Oh God!

The big bearded guy in the sky had nothing to do with it. He gave humans free will. With that free will gave the big guy some overdue time off. Of course that’s my own assumption. Never met the being humans called God, Allah… whatever. I didn’t follow their mythology… heck I didn’t follow anything really.

     What can I do? How can I help her?

“Come on, kid.” I grumbled into my coffee before taking a sip. My bright blue bang fell in front of my face before I combed it back with one hand, while the other set the chipped mug onto the table top. My black fingernails tapped on the sides of the mug, contrasting against the white porcelain.

He only had to say one word.

One word all humans said constantly like it was some kind of greedy prayer.

I looked through the metal grated table at my rolled down combats. They were practical enough with the amount of travelling my job required and with this no-shits-given, free-style appearance I had going with my half shaved head and thick framed ‘hipster’ glasses no one really paid much attention to me. I liked the glasses ‘cause they reminded me of the pair I busted in the 80s, not ‘cause they were hipster.

Whatever the hell a hipster was anyway?

     I….

     I sat up in my chair, leaning on my elbows along the edge of the unbalanced metal bistro table. From the years of experience that one word ‘I’ usually had the one word I needed to complete this boy’s request.

     I…

     Come on! I wanted to scream, grinding my teeth in anticipation.

     I want her to be okay. I wish she’d live through this.

     I stood after hearing the magic word.

Walking behind the boy, I rested my hand on his shoulder. He didn’t notice me, and didn’t see me. I was but a shadow standing behind him. With knowing that I leaned down close, moving aside his brunette hair and whisper: “You got your wish.”

He didn’t turn around, as I gave him a pat on the shoulder. He reached to take another sip of his latte before his phone rang.

Hopping down into the crowded street I heard him stand abruptly from his place at the table. His voice filled with joy at hearing the news.

Awake? Pull-through? Live? She’ll live!

I’ve been around long enough to know that everyone has a wish.

Some wish for money, fame, or fortune.

Some wish for vanity, luck, and love.

Those are all things humans’ desire but over the centuries of working with them the one thing I found most commonly wished for was time.

You want time with loved ones. You want time with pets. You want time for school work. You want time with special projects. Everywhere I went, I would hear the same damn thing.

I wish I had more time…

Sure, there are those of my kind who live off of materialistic desires.

I was one of them once…

Now that I’m a freelancer, though, I can give my time to ensure they have the time they desire.