“One coffee please,” she said with a hint of a smile on her lips.
Coffee was where they did their daily dance. Every morning she made the trek to the off-campus coffee shop, and he pretended not to know he was the reason why she inconvenienced herself.
“Coming right up,” he murmured under his breath as though it were a secret shared between the two of them.
As he turned around to make her coffee she ran her fingers through her short brown hair and readjusted her round over-sized glasses. Last night she had decided today was the day she was going to talk to him, and talk to him for real. She was tired of freezing up and getting irrationally angry at him for not following the script she had created in her head. She was no longer content with the finger grazes as he passed her her coffee. The tiny current of electricity needed a home outside of her fingers; she wanted to feel it throughout her entire body.
She wanted the swoop of butterflies as he pressed his soft lips to hers. She wanted to run her hands through his chestnut hair, to tickle his tanned skin with her ivory fingers. She wanted him, and she was losing patience.
“Here you go. Have a good day,” he said as he began to turn away.
He wondered if he should say something to her. The semester was almost over, and he was afraid he wouldn’t see her again. He had a tendency to mourn for the people he would never get to know.
“Wait!” she called out in a voice she was not entirely sure belonged to her.
“Everything alright with the coffee?”
His brows furrowed together in concern as his hazel eyes widened. She fought the urge to roll her eyes. Yes, the coffee was alright, it was the same coffee every day, today it was she who was different.
“Yes. I was- er, I just…” she stammered, losing the nerve she had spent hours last night working on.
She lost her words as well. She ducked her head down, letting her curtain of brown hair obscure her face, and began to fidget with her numerous rings; it was one of her anxious tics.
“Just…” he bit his lip and tried to help her find her words.
He hoped against all odds she would say something, that she would be brave enough for the two of them. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and tell her he knew, to tell her he felt everything she felt, to tell her he was as scared as she was.
He stayed behind the counter with his lips locked.
“Whoa there,” he said with a large grin, “first of all, breathe.”
She exhaled loudly and her tiny body released a disproportionate amount of tension.
“Second of all, I get off in five and would very much like to have coffee with you.”
“Really?” she questioned in a way that more so resembled a squeal.
“Yes really,” he laughed, charmed by her.
“I’ll be over there!” She exclaimed while pointing to a small table by the window. As she walked over, she bounced on her toes, and he, distracted by her, messed up his next order.
It was after the five minutes had passed and he was walking towards the table, that he realized he did not know her name or anything about her. The extent of their relationship was her asking for one coffee and him saying “coming right up”. He liked things the way they were, and if this went disastrously, she would probably stop coming to the shop. It was silly, but he liked having a regular customer, someone who he knew, but did not know. As he got closer and closer to the table, his apprehension grew, but he could not ignore how cute she was, or how he liked her green doe eyes and over-sized glasses.
“Hi,” he said as he took the seat across from her.
“Long time no see,” she said playfully. She was unsure of where this newfound confidence came from, but she liked being able to speak without overthinking and then missing the moment.
“I’m Guy, by the way.”
He cocked his head, confused as to how she would know that, until she shyly pointed to his nametag.
“Ah,” was all he could muster for a response, afraid she would mistakenly assume he thought she was weird for knowing his name.
“Yeah…” she trailed off, having lost her nerve. She could tell he was uninterested by the way his eyes looked everywhere but in her direction.
“So…um…I er- never got your name,” was Guy’s great attempt to save the conversation, but it felt futile at this point. To him, there was no conceivable way she could still be interested in hm.
“Oh, sorry. I’m Girl,” her voice rose at the end, as though she were asking a question as opposed to making a statement. He wondered if this was who she was, a person who asked questions and was unable to make a confident statement.
“Guy and Girl,” he said with a closed mouth smile.
He thought they’d make quite the combination, but he didn’t dare say this aloud.
“Yup, Guy and Girl,” she repeated.
Girl liked to believe she was a very perceptive and intuitive person, and right now, she had a gut feeling that Guy wanted nothing to do with her. She could live with this; he certainly wasn’t the first boy to reject her, and he wouldn’t be the last. But he was really cute…and he had tiny freckles on the bridge of his nose…and he worked at her favorite coffee shop…and he had hazel eyes that appeared golden in the sunlight…
“So…” he began, reaching for anything to latch onto, anything to convince her that he was worthy of her time, “you go to the local college, right?”
She nodded her head yes. He wasn’t even interesting enough to warrant a spoken response.
“Me too, what year are you?”
“Sophomore, you?” as she asked the question she realized she knew nothing about him. Before now, she didn’t even know whether or not he was a college student. She could have been throwing herself at a psychopath for all she knew…she could’ve ended up murdered, or raped, or kidnapped, or all of those things…As these thoughts ran through her head she simultaneously cursed her overprotective mother for turning her into a paranoid mess.
“Junior,” he responded and she felt relieved. Her friends wouldn’t have let her forget it if she had cornered a terrified freshman into having coffee with her.
“What’s your major?” he asked while hating himself for resorting to the three most basic questions which were asked every syllabus day.
Hi my name is Guy and I’m a junior computer science major from Connecticut.
“Art history,” she answered while turning red…he was so desperate that he was using the syllabus day questions! He was definitely just a nice boy who was not interested in her whatsoever. She couldn’t look at him…she was too embarrassed…she ducked her head down and played with the hem of her bright yellow dress, another anxious tic.
Good going, Guy thought to himself, she found the hem of her dress more fascinating than him, the hem of her yellow polka-dot sun dress. She was too perfect for him. An art history major, god he just wanted to be cute with her and take her to art museums in the city, watch her as she looked at all the paintings, and listen as she explained each and every one of them to him. He could make her happy; if she gave him the chance, he knew he could.
“Art history is cool, I take it you’ve been to all the museums in the city?”
She nodded her head enthusiastically and bit her lip in both excitement and nervousness. ASK ME TO GO TO A MUSEUM, she thought desperately. ASK ME, ASK ME, ASK ME!!!
“I’ve never been, but I’ve always wanted to go, just never had the time with work and classes,” he said, hoping that she would offer to show him one.
“It’s worth it, each of them is incredible in its own way, and the pieces are all gorgeous. I’ve been to them so many times I could definitely pass as a tour guide.”
He thought about how cute she was, bouncing up and down in her chair, her short hair bobbing with her, and her wide smile contagious. He loved hearing people talk about what they were passionate about, he thought it was one of the most attractive qualities in a person. He was enraptured by her, but every boy probably was…she probably had boys lined up to take her to art museums, boys who were artsy and interesting and could have in depth conversations about art with her…his extent of art knowledge was Van Gogh and Monet, not enough for her, not enough to make her want him above all the others.
“I’ll definitely have to check them out, I need to expand my horizons. Less computers, more art.”
Do it, she thought to herself, be brave, take a chance, offer to teach him more about art if he teaches you about computers.
“Yeah, I’m hopeless when it comes to all things technology. I still have a little flip phone and I prefer my typewriter to a laptop any day,” she said without meeting his eyes.
She was upset with herself for being a coward. Not that he was interested in her anyway, she reasoned, not when he could be with a brilliant, not socially awkward, gorgeous girl. A girl who wasn’t an incompetent technophobe, a girl he could talk to about the things he was passionate about. A girl who didn’t suffer from odd anxious tics, she thought as resentment coursed through her.
“It’s not too complicated once you get the hang of it, I still remember when I got my first smartphone, I was scared shitless and I spent way too many hours poring over the manual, but once I figured it out I was hooked, on technology, not my phone,” he quickly added, making sure to stress that he was not one of those mindless vegetables who used his smartphone as a morphine drip, “I just love it, you know? All the possibilities and everything it can do, it’s like holding the universe in the palm of your hand and being able to see the future.”
Lord, she thought he was hot. How he leaned forward and put his elbows on the table when he got really into what he was talking about, how his voice dropped to a whisper as though he were confessing a secret, his dimple that only appeared on the left side of his smile. She wanted him so badly.
“I never really thought of technology that way, but you’re right, it’s endless and always changing, and there’s something really beautiful about that. Art history kind of just stays the same, you know? I mean, art itself and the different trends and styles are constantly evolving, but it’s harder to study art as it’s happening, whereas with technology the best time to study it is when it’s happening.”
“One hundred percent,” he said while leaning forward, not quite believing they were having an actual conversation, but beyond grateful, “it’s like for once in my life I feel as though I’m actually a part of it instead of watching it. I can do things and actually be in the field, help to make progress; it’s kind of exhilarating to think of all the possibilities.”
He said all this with wide eyes and a sort of manic energy that she found herself addicted to. She needed this, she needed someone who wanted to experience things and push her outside of her comfort zone, someone who wasn’t afraid of infinite possibilities and making mistakes.
“Yeah, that sounds incredible, and I wish I could have that outlook, but I’m definitely more of a sidelines kind of person…”
What she really wanted to say was, “take me off of the sidelines, show me how beautiful everything is,” but she didn’t and never could.
more of a sidelines kind of person… she wanted someone to sit and watch with her. She wanted to stop and smell, and pick, and paint the roses… She thought he wanted to just keep walking. He didn’t want to keep walking though, not without her. There was no point in walking if he didn’t have her by his side, if he couldn’t hold her hand, if he couldn’t hold her. I’d stop with you, and smell, and help you pick, and watch you paint, he wanted to cry out, but he couldn’t bring himself to say these words aloud. He was afraid that she would want him to keep walking.
“Oh,” was his brilliant response to make her fall for him.
“Yeah…” she said while fighting the stubborn tear that was threatening to fall. She had blown it. I’m more of a sidelines kind of person… no one wanted to be with a sidelines person, least of all someone as fantastic and bold as him.
“So… um…” he trailed awkwardly, searching for anything to talk about.
“I should probably go,” she jumped in, wanting to salvage any trace of dignity she had left. This whole thing was a horrible idea, and although she had known from the very beginning that he was not interested, she and her foolish hope had tried to make it work.
“Oh, okay then,” he said disappointedly. He had completely obliterated any chance with her and the poor girl probably felt as though he had been holding her hostage. He should have never brought up the dumb computers, not the best topic to use when trying to woo a girl.
“Yeah, I have class soon,” she said while standing with finality. She knew this was the last time she’d be able to show her face in Coffee ever again, at least she had done one thing right by him today.
“Oh… yeah, and my break ends soon anyway.”
He actually wasn’t supposed to be on break, but he knew his boss would’ve understood. The old woman was always looking to set him up. He was glad she hadn’t been here to witness this disaster. When he would have to eventually tell her about it, he knew she would harp on him for letting her go, but there would be no way to describe how completely and utterly uninterested the girl was.
“So, um, see ya,” she said while heading out the door, perfectly aware of the fact they would not see each other again.
“Yeah…see ya,” he whispered with a dim awareness that this truly was goodbye.
With mockingly cheerful tinkling sound, the door closed behind her. He watched her yellow dress grow smaller and smaller until it was an indistinguishable yellow dot in the distance, and he wished that he had begged her to stay.
She walked along the narrow stretch of pavement with her head held high until she reached the end of the block and turned around to see him through the window for the last time. She wished she had grabbed his hand and taken him with her.