She uncurled herself from the couch in the quaint corner of the aromatic cafe. It was her favourite spot. And her regular one too. Infact she could faintly recall a hot lazy summer afternoon where she was curled in the very same couch jotting away a piece of story she had been working on feverishly for over a week on her blog.
It was a simple story. About a boy and a girl. And of course the regular 21st century ‘power-couple’ first world problems. She was so engrossed in it that she didn’t realise a scruffy bearded face peering at her intently across the coffee table, over her laptop, perched on the soft worn out tan leather cushion opposite her.
For a moment she thought she imagined it. But when she straightened her back and stretched her neck like a crane to look over her laptop she saw a man sitting lazily on the one seater couch opposite HER spot- eyeing her. Moreover, grinning while sipping his ‘chai-tea’. What the hell, she thought. “Excuse me?” She said raising her left eyebrow for more visual effect. He cocked his head a bit and moved his cup away from his face, flexing his left hand above his torn and faded blue jeans. He gave her a full blown smile with visible white teeth glowing under his soft pink lips. “This place is occupied you know? In case you didn’t notice.”, she spoke firmly in a gentle yet crisp voice for effect. “Details” he mumbled and took a sip of his tea. Before a bewildered voice retaliated for not getting the point he spoke in a completely opposite jovial tone – “Do you always spread all your stuff around while working? Or is that a very spectacular piece you got going on there” nodding towards her laptop screen. “I. Uh. Huh?”, she fumbled looking wide eyed down towards the coffee table between them where just over an hour ago she had scattered her handbag, magazines and chargers.
She wasn’t used to being questioned that way. Nobody had done that before. That was probably the beginning of something what could have only been labelled as an absolute Disney fairytale. But that wasn’t what happened.
She gathered her things and walked away that day. She had lost her flow and the excessive vibes of joy oozing out of him were disrupting her thoughts. She was at the sad melancholic part in her story now. His aura wasn’t helping. Especially after that awkward conversation – if one could call it one- she had no inclination towards typing whilst sitting opposite him. There were no other tables available, besides, that spot was her ‘work-zone’. And yet, she returned again the following day. And the next, and the day after that; only now her reasons did not include the coffee or the sofa, it involved someone else.
The door opened and she looked up. A waft of cinammon smelling breeze blew her hair a bit as the door shut and he walked in the general direction towards her. He paid the money and waited for his coffee. All the while shuffling his hands around awkwardly. Sometimes in his pockets. Sometimes cracking his knuckles. He was nervous. She couldn’t believe it. Even after all this time.
When he came and sat opposite her with his coffee, she smiled silently and sat a bit straighter. Not because she wanted to look better in that worn out leather sofa she had perched herself on half an hour ago. Because she simply wanted to soak in every detail of him better.
“I don’t have much time. I need to leave once I’m done with this coffee” he said as he looked at her ears. She had gotten a new piercing he noticed. “You never did stay anyway” she said with a smirk that had a hint of laughter. “Don’t say that!” he said quickly and loudly. His hands shook a little. She gazed at him for a brief second and clucked her tongue. “So you still love me after all” she smiled and leaned back into her seat.
It was etched in her brain. Her standing in front him, next to their carefully curated coffee books stand. Him just staring into her eyes. The reflection of herself visible clearly in his soft green-blue coloured eyes. The day he left her and walked out of all of their 12 thousand 300 memories; she knew because she could count them on her fingers. She was wearing a blue summer dress and he was standing by the door. With tears in his eyes he had bid her goodbye. Because she refused to hug him. Touch him. Kiss him. Feel him. She wanted no memories of him to remind her of the day. Funny it didn’t work in the end because she always got the details right each time she closed her eyes to travel back in time to recall that particular memory.
“Please don’t do this. Don’t make it harder than it already is. For me. For, for..you?” he peered at her intently to see if he recognised something in there, in her eyes. “Why are we here? Why are YOU here?” he asked, she noticed with a lot of hope in his voice. And maybe an underlying tone of desperation.
She picked up her latte and gulped the remaining bits of her coffee. She dug into her bag and pulled out an envelope. It was a pretty envelope. She knew that too. Because she had made it herself.
“Why won’t you say something? What is all this supposed to mean? Does it even Mean something? Anything? Am I supposed to ignore those texts you sent me a couple of days back?” He whispered the words, barely holding onto his sanity. Barely hanging on by a thread. Desperation and hope flickering across his brow with every slow whisper.
She kept the envelope face first onto the table, the side with his name etched cleanly in cursive. She slid it across the table towards him and looked straight into his eyes and smiled.
“I wanted to invite you to my wedding.
I’m getting married this weekend with the man who stayed.
The man who picked up my pieces 4 years ago.
The man who threw me a great pre-wedding cocktail party last weekend that caused me to get drunk and send you those texts, finally saying out loud what I wanted to on that day.
The man whose courage gave me the strength to look you in the eye and invite you to the most happiest day of my life since after you walked out.
That man, who has now become my parachute for survival and won’t ever let me fall”.
As tears rolled down his eyes the door swung open to a woman leaving the cafe, striding quickly towards her car – crying under the cover of her sunglasses and yet, gleaming and smiling like a child who had found candy.