BY MORGAN DOCURRAL
Today’s date is October 17th, 2017. I just ordered my usual iced coffee at my favorite cafe. It’s been four months since she left me and five since I’ve stepped foot in this place. Last time I was here was with her. She ordered her coffee and sat down at a table before mine was ready. She used to wait for me, but as time went on, she became impatient. The last conversation we’d had wasn’t a conversation at all. She was on her cell phone, and I was on mine. I wish things could have been different. I wish I did a lot of things, was it mostly my fault? I’m not sure why it took me a while to come into this cafe again, maybe because I’m too afraid I’ll bump into her. We haven’t spoken since the break up. What would I even say to her? How nervous would I be? I don’t think I want to find out.
“Order for Kyle,” The barista slides my coffee across the counter, I catch it before it spills, “Sorry.”
I sit down at the booth her and I used to sit at. I’m not sure why I’m doing this to myself. I guess I want to test my feelings? I stir my coffee with my straw. I look up at the empty seat across from me. I remember her warm grin, with her little hands hugging her coffee as she laughed at the minor inconvenience that happened to her that day. It’s becoming harder for me to remember that laugh. I guess it’s a good thing. I glance at the couple sitting across the cafe. Their phones are next to them, but neither of them have any intention of checking them. She’s smiling and he’s staring directly into her eyes while he talks with his hands. Her hands are on the table, waiting for him to place his down. Her and I were like that at first, we never wanted to stop talking- and if one was silent, they were thinking. When did things start to fall apart? Did we become too comfortable with one another? When did we start disagreeing on everything?
The woman talking to her boyfriend makes eye contact with me while smiling at their current conversation. I immediately look down at my coffee and take a sip, I hope she doesn’t tell her boyfriend what just happened. Maybe that’s why she left- I don’t mind my own business.
A week passed since my encounter at the cafe. I’ve been working almost everyday and hiding in my house. I haven’t had any reason to break my routine for the past few months, maybe I should. I revisit the cafe, but this time I don’t think of her when I walk in. I order my drink, and sit down at the same booth. I can barely remember what my life was like before her whenever I came here. What was I doing that made me spend hours sitting here alone? Now I can barely stay here for thirty minutes. As I stir my coffee, I hear someone sit in the booth next to mine, it was the woman I saw last week, but this time she was alone. I didn’t want to stare at her too long since she caught me looking at her last time, and if she caught me again I’d become the cafe creep.
In the corner of my eye, I see something fall. A quick glance over and I could see that her napkin had fallen onto the floor. She’s about to get up to retrieve a new one when I take mine and offer it in its place instead. She smiles and whispers a thank you to me. “No problem.” I reply, sitting back in my booth. I notice her looking at me with a dimpled smile. I catch myself smiling back as she continues to read her book. That was the first encounter I’ve had with a girl in a while, I should get out more- I wonder if she is a regular.
A few days pass and I find myself in the same booth in the same cafe. This time I brought my journal. I use to write stories and draw the events that were happening around me. The last entry was from a year ago, before I dated her. It was a drawing of an old man sitting alone in a booth holding his cup of tea with the words “He will be ok” written at the bottom. Funny how I’m in that situation now, I hope I’ll be ok.
The bell attached to the cafe’s door chimes as the girl from a few days ago walks in. She is a regular, but now I’m starting to wonder if the man she was with a few weeks ago was her boyfriend. She orders her drink as I look down at my journal and try to make myself look busy. I watch her from the corner of my eye. Once again, she sits in the table next to me. She takes a sip of her coffee, leaving a bit of red lipstick on the rim and stares into the distance. I feel like I should say something.
“Hey, the book you’re reading, I heard it’s really good.” My voice sounds so shaky, I’m so nervous. Maybe this was a bad idea.
She completely ignores me, picks up her book, and continues to read where she left off. Good job Kyle.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone.” I sink into my booth as my face slowly turns a light pink. Why am I such an idiot? Did I forget how to talk to girls? Did I ever know how to talk to girls?
I waited two weeks before I went into the cafe again. I hid, hoping the woman wouldn’t remember the embarrassing attempt I made trying to communicate with her. I order my drink and make my way to the booth. As I’m walking, I look up from my coffee and stop dead in my tracks. The woman is in the table next to my booth again reading her book. I nervously walk past her and sit down. I take out my journal and try to avoid eye contact with her so she wouldn’t notice me. I attempt to focus and continue to write the story I had started prior to the awful encounter. A few minutes pass by and a napkin slides across my table. I peek over, it reads “Hello. Nice to see you again. Where were you?” with an attempt of a sad face drawn at the bottom of the napkin before it ripped. I look over and the woman is making eye contact with me.
“I’ve been busy with my job and haven’t found the time to come here.” I lie, but she seems to have forgotten what had happened, which was good.
She frowns and takes the napkin she gave me. She writes something else on it and slides it back to me.
“I’m very sorry, I can’t hear anything.” Her eyes sadden as she breaks eye contact with me. I reach over to my journal and turn to the last few pages. I write to her instead of talking.
“It’s ok. We’ll just have to get to know each other a different way.” I slide my journal over as I watch her eyes read over each word. Her face starts to glow as she gestures to the seat across from me. I nod my head and watch her grab her belongings. We start to write questions back and forth to each other.
“How often do you come here?” I write.
“Every day after I work. It’s nice here. What about you?” She replies.
“Whenever I find the time.” I write back.
“I see, well whenever you do, come find me.” She finishes her sentence with a smiley face and I find myself smiling back at it.
I started to visit the cafe four times a week. Her and I would sit and exchange messages to each other until an employee would let us know it was time to leave. I had to buy a new journal since my old one was filled with our conversations.
It’s been two months since I’ve met her, and yet I still feel like I am learning more about her every time we meet. Although one question still nags at the back of my mind, who was that man she was with the first time we made eye contact?
“I have a question to ask you...” I start to write, “ and I don’t want this to come off the wrong way.” I slide the journal to her. She reads my question and nods her head at me. She slides the journal back, and I take a moment to write down my question.
“So, two months ago I saw you with this man, who was he? You don’t have to tell me, I’m just curious.” I hand the journal to her. I watch her take a moment to think back since it seemed forever ago. She taps the tip of the pen to her chin while she thinks. She gasps when she remembers the day and starts to write. Once she is done she hands it over to me.
“That must have been my brother. It was the last time I was going to see him before he left for his business trip. I’m surprised you remember. I do remember seeing you looking sad though. May I ask how come?” I glance up at her and she waits patiently for me to respond. I turn to the next page and write my reply.
“I was visiting this cafe for the first time since my ex-girlfriend broke up with me. It was hard for me at first, but it’s been getting easier for me. Her and I use to come here almost everyday, then it turned to once every few days, until we lost the effort of finding the time to see each other at all. To be honest, I haven’t thought of her for a while.” I hand her back the journal. She reads my reply and replies back.
“It’s scary to think that the person you love the most ends up being the one that hurts you the most. The fact that two people can say “I love you” to “We need to talk” in the span of a day scares me. Does it scare you? Are you worried it may happen to us one day?” She moves the journal over to me and looks down at her hands. When she’s nervous, she starts to pick at her fingers. I watch her try to avoid reopening old scabs. I pick up the pen and look at her. She makes eye contact with me, I break it with my writing.
“It just means you have the ability to care. The fact I was able to be with someone for so long impresses me. The fact I was able to comfort her when she was upset, make her laugh when I didn’t mean to. I was able to make her smile and that was the best reward I could receive. At first I was upset, and felt like it was a waste of time, but now I just see it as if I could care for someone like that, wait until I meet the person who is able to appreciate it. As for us, if one of us decides it’s time to go, I’ll be happy that we were able to spend this time together. My journals are a permanent timeline from when I didn’t know you existed up until now. I’m glad that our lives crossed over. And if anything were to happen to our friendship, I hope you would feel the same too.” My response takes up half a page, luckily she is patient and doesn’t seem bothered by it.
I hand her the journal and watch her dimples start to show as she’s reading my message. I feel a warm glow in my heart as she picks up the pen and starts to write back to me.
“You deserve someone who is patient, kind, and can make you smile. I hope our friendship will last a lifetime. Thank you for being a part of my life”. She hands the journal back to me. The warm sensation becomes even warmer, and I can’t help but start to smile. She holds out her small hand and holds onto mine. We both make eye contact and start to laugh. Even if people are temporary, it’s the little things such as this that keep me alive. Who knows where her and I will be in a year, maybe even a week from now. I just know I’m glad I met her and if she is happy, I’ll be happy. I’ll be okay.