Literary

Coffee Shop Tale

By Janina Lim, Lifestyle Editor  |  

Check her out — 5’6, slender, with long black straight hair and white, smooth, porcelain-like skin — she’s a charmer. You watch her every move from your periphery. She’s reading Austen. And you could only imagine how engrossed she is as you notice she has not taken a sip from her cup of coffee nor baffled by the shriek of the woman who had some coffee mishap just a feet or two behind her.

The next minute after obliviously drifting into devising plans as to how you’d come up to her without looking like a dacoit who will hold her at gunpoint, you glance at her table, but she isn’t there, nor anywhere in the coffee shop.

The separation was perhaps for the better, you thought.  You’re no less than relieved from the haunting chagrin of the faux pas your cursed social skills were likely to have wreaked upon you had you stepped up to her.  At least you can keep the hundred bucks you were supposed to pay for a cup of macchiatto you would have bought to replace her stale one had you outlasted the expected less-than-a-minute chat with her.

All these thoughts run through your mind like rapid lightning electrifying your brain cells in a full minute, but you are not convinced.  You know the loss is so much more than the cost of your current state of comfort and the hundred bucks combined– for the mysteries of the coffee shop that contrived to have two random customers sit together in a single table and fall in love will never be told.

You will never hear how adorably she babbles over the books she has read and would love to read or have the chance to ask whether she stopped midway the fifth chapter of Emma so as to glance your way.  There will be no one who would write you poems on your birthday, on Christmas, and on Valentine’s, not that you love poems; nevertheless, you find them to be sweeter treasures than the sparkling shiny gifts money can buy.

The night’s pitch darkness will remain to blind you from its genuine beauty for there would be no one by your side to point out the constellations and recount the myths behind them.

You will never wake up to see her within your embrace, or rose petals scattered across your room while beside the bed she stands, holding up a plate of omelet she has perfected that morning after how many mornings of painstaking practice.  Your golden years would never be spent under an oak tree, where you will lunch and watch your children and grandchildren bask under the sun while she presses your hand as she recites The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock under her breath.

You now dart out of the coffee shop with two waiters running after you and your bill you have forgotten to pay.  You scour the street and the streets nearby, every bookshop in the area, but in vain.

Stop, for a while.  Gasp some air.  Look around to see if you lost the waiters running after you.  Yup, you lost them and the girl as well.  You go back to the coffee shop to apologize to the manager for fleeing away with a fabricated excuse like running in search of an ATM or running for having misinterpreted one of your extrasensory visions as a warning for an incoming alien invasion.

Upon entering the coffee shop, unexpectedly, you see her back against the entrance. Your eyes glistened. Your spirits are in Nirvana. Your lips pursed into a smirk, as though conveying an expression of triumph. Set the fears aside. Just a simple ‘hi’ is what it takes.

“Hi”, you say, with a bit roughness and a bit low-toned, like it was a dying cow that greeted her.

Nevertheless, it was enough for her to hear your voice and turn around to see your face. And it was enough for you, as well, to realize that she wasn’t the girl who sat at the same table a while back.

You apologize. You turn your back from her to apologize next to the manager, but before you could take a step further to the counter, she said her name, you told her yours.

At the end of the night you find yourself seated beside her; not too close, but just enough to see the lovely freckles across her face, as though sprinkled in an alignment intended to outline the mysterious dark area encircling her big brown eyes, shining with vibrancy, shining with life. You only realize how loud you’ve been cracking up at her jokes particularly about Dickens’ inclination to describe a house in 10 pages– even as you don’t understand why a writer would devote 10 pages on such– upon being threatened by the scowl of an old man who just entered the cafe. Despite his glare, you continue to laugh your heart out. It then occurred to you that you might receive poems on your birthday after all.

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