Chapter 2. They meet. They talk. Coffee.
The same mother and child sit in the same likeness that they were in yesterday. The coffee shop is slow with business today and the clerk behind the counter lazily watches the clock tick back and forth. I have been here for a total of--if the clock is correct--twenty-three minutes.
The sun does not shine in through the windows today and give the shop its luster. Instead, through the windows, an overcast sky can be observed and barely luminescent street lamps litter the roads. It is fifteen minutes past eight-o-clock.
If that clock on the wall is right, after all.
I sit in one of the leather single chairs, my "regimen" in my pocket and my coffee in hand. I have now been sitting here for a total of twenty-seven minutes.
Of course, that's only assuming that the clock on the wall is correct.
I swirl the coffee by moving my hand in a circular motion. It's still warm, but not very. There's about half of the cup left. I tried the half-and-half today. I didn't really appreciate it as much as I'd hoped to. I usually enjoy my coffee black, but I wanted to try a sweeter taste.
Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed with it and regretting the choice I had made.
Deciding to take another sip of my coffee--which was just as displeasing as all the other sips--led to me throwing the remainder of it away. The clerk smiled at me from behind the counter, chuckling.
"Not good, boss?"
"Unfortunately. It wasn't the brewer's fault, I can assure you."
"Ah, thanks. That's alright. Would you like a black cup? It's on me."
The cup wasn't fresh-hot. It was warm, as if it had been ready for a couple minutes, but not freshly-brewed hot. He knew I was going to throw it away. I guess he's learned more about my tastes than I thought.
After sitting back down with my new and much more enjoyable cup and noticing that the sky had begun to darken, I figured it was going to rain soon. However, when in Portland, Oregon, there's no telling when it'll happen. You just know it's going to happen.
I set my cup down on the lacquer table in front of the single chair, and make my way towards the bathroom to quickly take one of my "regimen" pills, which I hadn't taken this morning. Before I get to the door, I hear the front door to the coffee shop open, and hear the bell above it jingle. I turn around.
I can tell.
Her long, straight dark-brown hair is just as beautiful as it was yesterday. She shivers, shaking herself from head to toe and wiping her feet as she comes inside. I no longer notice the stormy weather outside. I only see her beautiful hair glistening and shining under the lighting in the coffee shop. She is the brightest of the stars, lighting up my entire night sky. She is my guiding light and she's so beautiful that I can't stand it.
She goes up to the clerk behind the counter. She orders something sweet in the most wonderfully soft, angelic voice my ears have ever been graced with hearing.
I really, really hate caramel. And mocha. And I wish that they would leave the world of coffee forever.
But she likes caramel. Maybe even mocha.
Perfection doesn't have to match me completely, right?
My heart hammers in my chest. She sits down on the opposite side of the lacquer table. She's facing my chair. She pulls out her phone and starts typing on the keyboard.
She must be waiting for me to sit down. She must be. She just doesn't know it, that's all.
I sit down across from her, and pick up my cup, taking a small sip. She looks up at me from her phone.
"Oh! I saw you on the bus yesterday." Her smile is like an enormous warmth that simultaneously stabs at me like a knife.
Talk to her.
I weakly reply, "I remember."
She smiles a great, big, beautiful smile that makes her eyes shut and her teeth glimmer like diamonds. God, her beauty is unbelievable. She holds out her hand, the smile fading to the point where I can see her eyes again. "My name is Cera--with a C."
Her hand is like that of a pristine goddess. Her nails are finely trimmed and the pinks are so shiny under the store light. I have yet to find anything about this girl that I don't like. I slowly reach out my own hand, which is also clean but nowhere near as beautifully crafted. I instantly feel unworthy to shake her hand, but do in respect and in decency.
"My name is Xander." I say. My smile is probably not a fraction as wonderful as hers, but I manage one.
"It's so nice to meet you, Xander!" She laughs, sitting back in her chair with her coffee. "I'm fresh blood in this town, you see. I just moved here from Reno, and I'm just trying to explore the town and get a good feel for the local shops. I can't say I hate this coffee, so far!"
I feel a little more comfortable. I think she can tell that I felt a bit uneasy, though she may have perceived it for the wrong reason. I assume maybe she thinks I'm unsettled by the fact that she remembers me from the bus. I'm glad she said it first. I didn't want to. If I made her feel uncomfortable with me I would be devastated.
"Welcome to Portland."
I can't believe I'm talking to her.
We sit for what feels like no time at all, talking about the town and the local eateries, the gas stations that aren't shady, and the movie theaters. She's glad to meet someone who's willing to explain the town to her and I'm glad to be talking to her. Both of us slowly take sips of our coffee in between talking.
But that's not all you want, is it?
Don't you want something else?
"What could I want from her?"
Don't you want to hold her in your arms?
"But we've only just met."
You'll never be anything worthwhile.
So grab her.
I SAID GRAB HER.
I stand up, and walk over to her chair, and hug her. Though somewhat confused, she laughs and hugs me back.
"Aww, that's sweet. You're a hugger too?"
"Yes, yes I am." I reply with a nervous laugh. Looking up at the clock shows that it's past 9:30. We've been talking for well over an hour and I haven't even realized it. I mention the time to her.
"Oh, is it that late already? I should probably get home soon."
"Would you like me to come with you? We ride the same bus, after all. I can see you home."
"Why, thank you! I'd appreciate it."
Before we leave, I go into the restroom and quickly take my "regimen" out of my pocket. I pop open the top of the bottle and take one of the pills, dry-swallowing it and reclosing the small orange-tinted bottle. I look in the mirror.
My face is pale. My blonde hair is somewhat matted from lightly sweating and my brown eyes are wide. I hadn't been hearing my own voice, but it was inside my head.
And it was very, very real.