by Storm Grey
i just finished writing this story. hopefully it's better than the one I wrote last year!
It's just pain and suffering.
It tears people apart.
Yet, we all wish for it.
Why is there such a thing as love?
I look up from my journal and scan the coffee shop. Usually, for people watching, I'd go to a large scale Corporation cafe like Starbucks. Today's main goal was not to people-watch, but to write. To finally write my debut novel. Sadly, though, it is going nowhere.
I hear the door ring, and look over to the door. There are now 8 people in this coffee shop, not including me. I figured there'd be more, because that snowstorm outside is brewing (pun intended). I glance over at the girl that just walked in. Flakes of snow litter her bright red hair, and the top of her head is a bit messy from the black beanie she had on. Her green eyes are bright emerald and match with her trench coat. I feel myself go red as I look. I shake it off. I need to stay focused, or else I won't be able to finish even the first page.
My name is Melaney.
I am a hater of love.
I am a lover of none.
I jump from my seat and the chair shakes violently. I suddenly feel a warm hand on my back, helping me to steady myself. My cheeks go warm as I look up and right into those shining emerald eyes.
"Fiddlesticks, are you OK?" She says.
"Umhm," I mumble, tucking a piece of honey blonde hair behind my ear.
"Good. I'm Emme. Nice to meet you," she says.
"Hattie," I respond.
Emme sits down in the chair next to me. Her hair looks so soft, and I fight the urge to touch it.
We sit in silence, unsure of what to say. I watch the snow, hands crossed on top of my notebook. The snow is falling fast, and I wonder if I should call my dad and tell him I'm going to stay at the coffeehouse for longer than expected. I really hope we don't get snowed in, cause that would mean being stuck in a small room with the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.
"You know that saying 'I love you with all of my heart?" Emme blurts out.
I cringe at the word love, and I hope she didn't notice.
"Ya." I say. I wonder why she is asking this to a stranger.
"Well, how can we love someone or something with all of our heart if we all love more than one thing?" She says in a rush. Emme puts her elbows on the table and holds her face, looking at the snow. Her cheeks are still bright red, but I don't think it's from the cold anymore.
I'm silent. I don't know how to respond to that, considering I hate all things love.
"We can't lie to the people we love, can we?" She continues. I stare straight ahead. I don't know what to say because I don't know about love. I've always hated love, because I think it drives everyone apart. It drove my parents apart and it drove my best friend and I apart.
"Well, I guess…" I mumble.
Emme bends down and rummages through her bookbag. She takes out a small notebook and drops it on the table.
"In here I have everything about love. Quotes, scientific formulas, EVERYthing." she says. I look at the notebook and I see little red heart stickers on the front cover. I honestly have no idea why I'm sitting here listening to this girl ramble on about love. The thing I hate most in the world. Maybe it's me, but I need to leave before she takes this too far.
"Well, I better get going. Sorry, but I have a lot of things to do." I say. She gives me a small smile as I stuff my journal into my bag. I'm just about to stand from my chair when a barista working at the bar climbs up and onto a half-cleaned table. "Can I have your attention, everyone," He looks around at the very few customers and continues. " We seem to be snowed in." That’s when I notice the 4 feet of snow blocking half of the window.
Everyone gasps. We all start to panic, and a little girl hugs her mom tightly. I look around at the rest of the civilians. There is a mom and daughter, two men in sharp suits, me, Emme, a boy around my age, and a man who looks to be about 50.
See? Karma had to go and bite me right in the ass. Now, I was snowed in the tiny coffee shop with the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. And all I wanted to do was get as far away from her as possible. "I'm going to the bathroom." I declare. No one noticed as I slithered through the cafe and into the girls bathroom. I slam the door shut and lock it tight. Why can't mother nature wait five extra minutes so I can go? I don't want to be here anymore! I pace around the bathroom, my thoughts doing the same around my head. Why did she even sit next to me in the first place! If she hadn't, I wouldn't be here, but at home in my room waiting for Mom to come home. So maybe this situation I'm in is better than the one I would be in if I was at home. But so what!? I'm losing my mind in a bathroom where right outside is a beautiful girl. Could this get any worse? Oh wait, it already has. We're SNOWED in.
Hattie, get a grip, I whisper to myself. I need to get out of here. Maybe a window? A back door?
"Um, Hattie? Are you okay in there?" A voice says from outside the bathroom. It's Emme.
"Ya, I'm fine," I return. I unlock the door and open it. Emme is standing in front of me, her red hair swooped up in a messy bun. God, she looks spectacular. We walk back to the table together and sit down.
" Well, what are we going to do?" Emme asked. Like I had any idea. I was just planning to sit at the table and sulk for hours; or at least until we were un-snowed in or something. I take out my journal and I'm about to doodle aimlessly until I get an idea for my story. I flip to the right page, twist my pencil in my hands, and get to work.
This is my story. My story is different and new, and hopefully nothing like any other story you may have read. Well, here we go.
"Hi Melaney. My name is Miss Debuche. You are here because your parents died and you have no family. Now, let's get you to your room. I have more homeless kids to attend to and I don't have all day."
Died? my parents… died?
“What are you writing?” Emme asks, curious. My writing was interrupted again, and I lost my train of thought. Oh well, next time.
“Well, I’m trying to write my debut novel.” I respond.
“Ooh, does it have romance?” she questions, her eyes getting all dreamy. She holds her hands together, pressing them into her cheek like the do in the movies.
“Quite the opposite, actually.” Emme’s eyes snap back to reality.
“Why? Love is awesome.” I must’ve rolled my eyes at her because she looked at me funny. “You don’t love love?”
“No.” I answer bluntly.
“Why not? I’ve done all the research, but nothing seems to talk about people who hate love…”
“Because the only thing that’s on the internet is what people want to be on the internet.” I interrupt her, my eyes drifting away from hers.
“No, It’s because no one truely hates love.”
“Well, there’s a first for everything.”
“What is it about love that you hate so much?” she pushed the wrong button.
“Just stop. I don’t want to talk about this. Why are you even talking to me? I’m a stranger. Stranger danger.” I scoot my chair a little bit further away from her.
At that point, Emme bursts out laughing. Everyone in the coffee shop stares at her in disbelief. I hide my face, not wanting to be associated with the snorting girl in the coffee shop window.
“Ok, I think I’m just going to go sit somewhere else…” I say. I scurry to grab my bookbag and notebook, then head over to a table in the corner. I drag the second chair away from the table, trying to make a point. I put my earbuds in my ears. Hopefully a song would come on that wasn’t about love. Because love hurts.
A few minutes later, I heard a screeching on the floor. I looked up and saw Emme dragging the chair I had dragged away back to the table. She sat down, the back of the chair in front. I tried to ignore her, but she sat there with a cute look on her face and I couldn’t help it.
“Yes?” I said.
“Sorry that I was so persistent like that…” she exclaimed. “And that I laughed. I just don’t understand. Why don’t you like love? What did it do?”
“You want to know what it did?” I said, taking my earbuds out of my ears. She nodded silently. “Love was supposed to be the thing that held families together. It tore mine, and multiple other, families apart. What do you think about love now?” I said. Emme sat there for a minute, reading my face and thinking of things in her mind.
“I think,” she said quietly, “Maybe it was love that broke your family, but new love can put it back together again. Even you.”
“You just need someone that can bring a new kind of love into your life.”
“Well, sitting in this coffee shop snowed in isn’t going to help me find ‘new love’.”
“Actually, it can. There’s people here. What about that guy over there? He looks our age.” she gestured at the only other teenager in the coffee shop, drinking a coffee and scrolling through his Instagram feed. He wore a baseball cap and seemed to be one of the guys who had every girl hanging off his arms. We both stood up warily. It looked like Emme regretted her suggestion, yet we walked over anyway.
“Hello!” Emme said cheerily. He ignored us.
“Ok… well that was a bust…” I clapped my hands together and spun around heading back to the table.
“Wait, I think he has earbuds in.”
“Great.” I say sarcastically. “I don’t want to do this.”
“Oh, hey.” the guy said, taking his earbuds out of his ears. His eyes skip me and go right to Emme. he quickly looks her up and down, eyes widening.
“Can we sit?” Emme asked, her oblivious to how he was looking at her.
“Oh, um, yeah, sure.” he answers. Emme pulls up another chair for me, trying to find the perfect place to put it. I smile at her, and sit down. This is going to be fun.
“I’m Emme.” Emme says.
“Joey.” the boy says. Emme looks at me, expecting me to introduce myself, but I’ve flown off to some random place in my memory. A forceful kick from under the table brings me back down.
“Oh, I, um… Hattie. My name is Hattie.”
“Ok, well…” Emme starts a conversation about college. Joey is half in the conversation, half staring at her chest. Again, she’s oblivious.
“Welp, I’m going to go get a coffee.” I say, pushing my chair out and hopping out, trying any trick to get out of the awkward conversation. His table is not too far from the counter, so I am able to just make out their quiet talking.
“Hey, could I get your number?” Joey asked without hesitation, as soon as he thought I was out of ear’s reach.
“Sorry, but I’m lesbian.”
Oh my god. She is lesbian. My day just got a whole lot better.
“Oh, ok.” And with that, I witnessed him get up, with all of his stuff, and ‘go to the bathroom’. Douche. Emme just shrugged, and walked calmly back over to the table we were sitting at.
“Um, miss?” the barista says. His voice jolts me back to what I was doing.
“Oh, sorry. Could I get a caramel decaf coffee?”
“Coming right up.”
I paid for the coffee and waited for my drink. All of a sudden, I felt a tugging on my shirt. I looked down and saw a little girl looking up at me with wide brown eyes.
“Hello. My mommy wanted to ask you somefing.” she said, with a small lisp that all of the cutest 5 year olds have.
“Ok, where’s your mommy?”
“Over there.” she grabbed my hand and pointed at a woman. She seemed very anxious. The little girl then pulled me over to her mom. Her mom saw me and smiled weakly.
“Hello. What did you want to ask me?” I asked the lady.
“Well, I know this is kind of embarrassing… but do you have any money? We’ve asked the suited men and they just shooed us away. The boy over there-” she pointed at Joey “-was very rude. We saw you go to the counter and-”
“Oh it’s fine! Here you go.” I pulled out a twenty from my wallet and handed it to the woman. She and her daughter both looked really hungry. I noticed that she didn’t have a purse. Why had she gone to a coffee shop without money?
“Are you sure? Oh, thank you!” she said.
“What happened? Is everything ok?”
“Well, we were heading home after shopping for Christmas, and I had left my purse at the store’s checkout! We ran back to the store, for it was snowing hard now, but it wasn’t there. Someone stole it. We decided to wait out the storm here, because this was closest to the store. And now, here we are.” I felt terrible for the woman and her daughter. “I can’t call my husband with my phone because it’s in my purse and I can’t call him with this phone because there is no reception! There is too much snow!” she exclaimed, exasperated.
“I’m so sorry.” I said.
“Mommy?” the girl asked. Her mother nodded. “Can we go get some food now?”
Her mother laughed and took her hand. Before she led her daughter off to get food, she looked at me with a wide grin on her face. “Bless you.” she said. I thanked her, then went back to the table where Emme sat. she looked at me with a smile.
“So, you still hate love now?” She was killing me.
“Yes. yes I do.” I was persistent with my answer, but I felt something else. I wasn’t ready to expose anything else about myself just yet, and I didn’t know why I felt this way. Love sucks! Love tears families and relationships apart! Love kills! Love is… something. I was so confused at that moment.
“Can I read your notebook?” Emme asked.
“Ok…” she gently took the notebook from under my arms and flipped the pages, analyzing my neat black pen handwriting.
“Wow, you get really dark in here. And deep.” she said, showing me one of the scribbles I had created. It was all black ink. I tend to scribble when I need to think, or when my parents are fighting. It’s a good thing she never saw the words under the blob.
All of a sudden, she stopped closer to the end. The most recent bestseller I was trying to write. Oh god. My hands were in my hair when she proposed the verdict.
“After reading this-” she closed the notebook and clasped her hands like a judge would do “-I have deduced that-” she paused dramatically “-you need help.”
“You must read my notebook,” she said matter-of-factly, like that would change everything. I raised my eyebrows in disbelief. That red and pink glitter factory? It was like the trolls threw up on it.
She noticed my expression of horror when she took the notebook out of her bag.
“My little sister gave it to me. She decorated it herself,” she looked like she liked how it was decorated.
“Aww, It’s so cute!” I dragged out my ‘so’ like a valley girl. She gave me a look.
“She’s 7 years old, come on!”
“Ok, ok. Let me see it.” I used the tips of my fingers to open the notebook, careful to not get the glitter on me. Emme waited patiently for me to read through her notebook. Jeez. she really was a stickler for all things love. She had love related quotes, research pages with citations, her own notes, her own experiences (I had a fun time reading those and made her blush the whole time I was reading them). The notebook was almost full. She had 10 pages left, blank and anxious for words.
“What are you doing with these pages?” I was curious.
“Well, I didn’t quite know for a while. I haven’t written on a new page in a couple of months, only adding notes to the pages already full.”
“Didn’t? So you know now?”
“Yep. Just need a few more pieces of information.”
“So, what did you draw from that notebook?”
“That...” I thought profusely. “Love is complex and you wish you glittered notebooks like your sister.” she smacked my arm.
“What!? It’s true.”
“Yes, the first inclination is…” I rose my eyebrows again. “Fine, both! I like glitter. Don’t judge me.”
“I didn’t say anything,” I said, throwing my hands up in mock defeat.
She laughed. I love her laugh. I love her eyes. I love her smile. I love her. Wait what? No! I can’t love her, because love will break us. Bit by bit, love will tear us to bits like a lion does to a dead gazelle. Plus, we just met 2 hours ago! But I still felt that feeling that I had earlier. It was making a fool out of me and my philosophy: love is the devil incarnate. But what could I do? Apparently your heart rules over your head in situations like this.
“I have to go for a moment,” I said suddenly, breaking her out of her laugh.
“Ok…” she had an unreadable look on her face.
I stood up and walked over to the lady and her daughter. They were eating a big buffet of food and drinking matching strawberry lemonades.
“Hi again.” I waved awkwardly.
“Oh, hello there!” the woman said cheerily.
“Hi!” the little girl said enthusiastically.
“Can I just sit here for a little while?” I asked.
“Is everything ok?” the woman said worriedly.
“No…” I glance at the five year old. If I'm going to tell the woman what’s going on with me, I'm pretty sure that a 5 year old is going to not be okay. She notices my face and reassures me that Izzy- her daughter - will be ok. “She’s wise beyond her years.” she says, laughing a little.
And so, I told her everything that had happened to me today in the coffee shop. We both glanced at Emme a couple of times. She was scribbling furiously into her notebook.
“Well, that’s certainly a fun two hours.” the lady said.
“I fink,” Izzy says with her lisp, concentrating, “dat maybe somewhere in your heart, you know what you want. But your head has always ruled over your heart. You just need to listhen to bof of dem.”
Her mom and I looked at her in disbelief, then at each other.
“And Izzy does it again!” her mom says, sweeping Izzy off her chair and onto her lap. She gives her a big hug. I wish my mom still did that to me.
“Well, there you have it! I couldn't have said it better myself. Go get your girl.”
“I’ll try…” I said, with no confidence whatsoever in my voice. I thank the mom and daughter team, take a deep breath, and return to my table. Emme is still writing in her notebook, and doesn’t notice me take a seat across from her.
“Emme.” I say quietly. My voice wobbles with fright. She doesn’t notice me.
“Emme.” I say louder. She looks up at me.
“Maybe love isn’t as bad as I thought it was.”