"The minute you walked in the joint. I could see you were a man of distinction. A real big spender."
Her thin index finger rotates clockwise around the rim of the white porcelain mug that retains the remnants of the instant coffee she made herself only half an hour before. She is in her own world as I make my way up to the till, the green digital display on the black background still alerting those around us of the change she has given to the previous customer.
I try breaking the wall down of Sandra's vivid imagination, but she continues to peer over my shoulder and look through the glazed door behind me. Every fibre of her body is on edge, and she flinches with anticipation and excitement every time the squeaky hinge on the far door announces the arrival of another customer. After displaying a disheartened smile, she sighs a sigh which is louder than the jet steam that is coming out of the thin tube and into another empty mug.
"Everything alright Sandra?" I ask, as she slowly stirs my builder's strength tea with the tea-stained teaspoon, "you don't seem your normal self."
"I'm alright Mike, love," Sandra replies in a tone that cannot hide her inner turmoil, "take a seat babe and I'll bring over your breakfast."
I walk around the usual breakfast time assault course consisting of the local builders who have arrived for their tea break, and take my normal seat just opposite the plasma screen that was installed recently. The paint work around the television is still flaking from Dave's previous handy work, and each flake is screaming for him to come back and finish the work.
I flick the top of my iPad, and bring up the usual Millwall pages to find out the recent news of what has been happening at The Den. Out of the corner of my eye I see Sandra repeating the same course as me, and look on in awe how she manages to complete the slalom in record time without spilling any of my breakfast or tea.
"You sure you're ok Sandra?" I ask again, as I help her guide my mug to a spot on the table where I'm not able to knock it over.
"Actually Mike, I'm not really." Sandra says downtrodden. "There's this new fella, Stephen his name is. He's the new delivery driver who delivers all my battered cod and hash browns, but I can't stop thinking about him. Call me silly, but that's who I was day dreaming about when you walked in Mike."
"It's not silly Sandra!" I reply, trying to cheer her up, "everyone is dreaming around here at the moment. Ever since Neil Harris has said the boys have earned the right to dream, we're all hoping for the best. After the Brentford game he mentioned the play-offs for the first time. You never know Sandra, like Neil Harris says as well about getting closer to the teams at the top, you can end up getting closer to this Stephen bloke?"
"Cavs he asked me to call him," Sandra says with a light blush, "his surname name is Cavalar, but his mates called him Cavs."
"You better behave yourself Sandra!" 'Arry chuckles as he comes out of the toilets with a rolled up Smash Hits magazine under his arm. "I heard everything you said in there, your old man won't be happy hearing you say that! Neil Harris said on NewsatDen that he'll have to have a word with Tim Cahill for misbehaving on the pitch and being too eager. What will your other half say if we tell him you've been chatting up the new bloke?"
"Leave off will you 'Arry?" Sandra smirked like a giggling schoolgirl, "or I won't make you your grande, double-shot, non-fat, one-pump, no-whip, mocha that you asked before you spent the last ten minutes in the toilet!"
Bursting with laughter, I join in the conversation. "That was basically a repeat of the game on Saturday, Sandra. George Saville did his own double shot with another goal in under a minute. But after the pressure we were under, 'Arry spent the last ten minutes of the game in the toilet. Best place for his nerves he reckons."
"Oh shut up Mike!" 'Arry scowled, "it was the lunch I had down here as well as the game that made my stomach do somersaults. Seemed like the food was off!"
"Well that won't happen anymore 'Arry," said Sandra finding any excuse to bring up her new fancy man, "now that the Millwall café has Cavs delivering to us then things can only get better. It's always better when he comes back."
"I'm more excited about Aiden O'Brien coming back Sandra," I say after slurping my tea and checking the images under the cold glass of my iPad, "he made his return against QPR in an under-23's game. Played just over an hour it says so it's a step in the right direction."
"It is Mike," says 'Arry after snatching my rectangular digital device from my hand and flicking on to the club website, "Hutch says here that the team are working really hard, plus George Saville says that there is a real togetherness in the squad."
"Well that's obvious," I say to 'Arry after angrily grabbing back my iPad, "look how many of our players have made their international sides! Cahill and Meredith have made the Australia side. Conor McLaughlin, George Saville and Shane Ferguson are all in the Northern Ireland squad also. Let's not forget the Scotland call-up for Jordan Archer and Mahlon Romeo is in the Antigua and Barbuda team!"
"Talking of going away, Cavs is going away soon." Sandra interjects with another reminder of her hash brown hot stuff.
"Where's he off to then?" 'Arry asks intrigued.
"Cornwall." Sandra says dreamily.
"Oh flipping hell," I reply with my head in my hands, "'Arry, let me know what's happening with the Lionesses before she starts again..."
While tucking away on my bacon sandwich, I was truly not looking forward to another Sunday without the Lionesses in action. Back in action on the 25th away to Oxford couldn’t come sooner. To be fair neither could my coffee which I had been waiting for 15 minutes now!
"Has there been anything about the Lionesses this week?" Mike asked as Sandra made her way back to get my drink.
"Well Lee Burch took part in an interview with the club and what a read that was!" I replied, "a great article and some well said points by Lee."
"I’m really hoping this break don’t affect the Lionesses badly," Mike said with a worrying quiver in his voice, "like when you went a time without coffee."
"Oi!" I shouted, not noticing the table of people behind me jump in a startled way. "We said we would never speak of that. There was some football action, the development side won 2-4 away at Brighton, it’s been a good season for them just like the first team. I'm going to have to see when they are playing next, might pop down there."
"They are playing Sunday at home to Oxford aren't they?" Mike asked. "Maybe it’s worth going down to watch them?"
"I might just do that mate," I said, whilst dipping my finger in to the layers of whipped cream on my macchiato. "Nothing else to do on a Sunday at the moment so might as well pop down there and watch them. They’ve been playing well so I feel they will get another 3 points."
"Better late than never," I say to Sandra, who finally brings over my small china jug of skimmed milk to go in my coffee, "you're slower than Meg Alexander’s car on the way to a training session!"
"Watch it you, or I’ll stop ordering the coffee stock" Sandra snaps at me.
"You wouldn’t dare," I threaten, "you would lose your top customer!"
"I’ll be down there Sunday," Sandra says changing subject. "I’ll be doing the teas in the back. Come say hello, but one mention of a coffee I’m kicking you out."
"'Arry needs these coffees to get him through the day" Mike pleads, trying to act as peace maker. "You can’t be taking them away from him, that’s like taking a football away from Charlie Devlin, you just can’t do that!"
"Agreed," I concur, "I do need a coffee."
"Is that your taxi just pulled up there boys?" Sandra asks, peering out the window looking for Cavs.
"We never got a taxi?" Mike responded in a puzzled manner.
A mysterious figured slowly appeared from the smoky fumes of the car exhaust pipe and made his way into the café...