Staring down into its stark black, rippling surface, Christian got lost in his own distorted reflection. Got lost in the reflection of his own swirling thoughts. And he sat there for what seemed like eternity, when in reality only a moment had passed, contemplating how he got here. Not to this coffee shop, no, but to this point in his life. This point in his life where he desired everything and, yet, nothing seemed attainable.
He shook his head and brought the not-quite-clean porcelain mug housing his not-quite-worth-it $8.00 coffee to his lips. And as the scorching liquid danced down his throat, he found it ironic and symbolic that it tasted as he felt this gloomy Tuesday morning – bitter.
Six months ago was when everything had changed for Christian. When the hands of fate or perhaps the devil shook his world upside down. Shook him so hard that just about everything inside of him fell out. And every day since, he desperately clung to the tiny bits of sanity and hope that remained.
Placing his mug back down onto the scratched and beaten surface, he muttered quietly to himself as the dark wooden table rocked back and forth. Six months of complaining and they still hadn’t fixed it. In fact, he was convinced they were making it more imbalanced just to torture him. But, then again, maybe it was just his imagination. Maybe everything in his world was a fabricated byproduct of the thoughts that seemingly crippled him.
Holding his book out in front of him, he chuckled slightly as he read, what he thought, anyways, was one of the most bizarre and most brilliant of chapters ever written: “My mother is a fish.” He’d read this chapter so many times before. And he brought the book with him – his favorite book – not to read and savor the words on each page, but to find some sort of comfort as he glanced over its brown and worn pages savoring something else – her.
Sitting at the same table she always did, she faced him. Her hair draped over her shoulders, so silky, so smooth, like melted chocolate. Her long, tanned and toned legs crossed elegantly. Her worn cowboy boots occasionally dancing to their own beat. Lifting the mug to her lips, she looked off in the distance, in his direction, but not at him, through him. And in between sips and stares, her fingers would hurriedly type into her phone.
Christian had her movements memorized, which, on those lonely nights, was both a blessing and a curse, as when he closed his eyes, he could see her. He could see her full, pouty lips kissing that mug. Could see those eyes, those sparkling blue eyes that held so much life and even a little sadness, staring. Except in his dreams, they stared not out into the distance, but at him. How he longed to have her just look at him. Of course, he also longed for much more. But the very basic of human interaction is what he so desired. And it is this basic of human interaction he was denied each and every day. And this denial… this longing… it was killing him.
A small wave of nausea washed over Christian and a few beads of sweat dripped down the side of his face. He motioned for the plump, middle-aged waitress.
“Water. Can I get a glass of ice water?” He asked.
He gulped the cool liquid down, soothing the worry that gurgled in the pit of his stomach.
Six months ago, he’d met her in the produce section of the local grocery. They had both reached for the same tomato, their hands briefly touching. Still, he could feel her softness against him. And in this brief meeting, she had stirred something great deep within him. Something he had felt mildly before with others, but never, ever this strongly. And so quickly. He tried to forget her over the course of the ensuing days, but he found his feelings only intensified. Growing and shaping within him into this overwhelming cancerous mass which threatened to nibble away at all that he was.
A week later, he found it, well, interesting, that he saw her in the coffee shop down the street from his home. And he still cursed the shy man that lived inside of him for not walking over to her then, that day, and introducing himself. Instead, he took a seat at the table across the way from her and waited. Waited for her to glance up and recognize him. To smile. To remember the feel of their skin against one another. Waited for her to walk over to him. For her to notice him.
It never happened.
And it was as she walked out from the coffee shop that day that his world changed. Her causal ignorance to his existence began to gnaw at him. And life began to tease him, as she continued to return each and every single day. And each and every single day he prayed to whoever would listen. Begged for just one quick glance. For one small smile. But… nothing. It was like he was… invisible.
The memories of all the missed opportunities over these past six months began to slam down onto him, like a cement boulder being dropped from the heavens. His need for her choked out his better judgment and he slammed the book down onto the table. And he stood, his body shaking, and looked right at her. And, finally, for the first time, she looked back.
Her phone then promptly interrupted what he thought would finally be the moment he had dreamt about over and over each and every lonely night.
“Hello? John?” She spoke into the receiver, her head cocked slightly, her brow slightly creased. “Yes. I’m leaving now. Wait,” and she paused as she walked past Christian, looking directly into his eyes, “till I tell you about this weird man.”
And just like that. She’d done it. She’d shoved that knife all the way through and pulled it back out, taking with her his tattered and broken heart.
Christian fell to the floor as a series of tremors overtook him. And the tears that had bottled up inside of him came pouring out. Demented reasoning began to overtake him and his hands slid their way through his sweaty hair, tugging as they did. Indiscernible mutterings escaped his lips and he rocked back and forth. Trying to come to terms with the fact that she didn’t see him and all that he was, and all that he could be, in the same light as he had seen her, seen them. She was blind to the dreams he had dreamt, and the life he hoped for.
“I think you need this,” the plump, middle-aged waitress said as she leaned down and handed him another glass of ice water. “You know, you’re just as blind as her,” she said as she walked away.
But caught up in the flurry of emotions that entrapped him, he was not only blind to the world around him, but deaf to it as well.
Across the way, seated in the corner, she sat. In the same table she had for the past six months. And for the past six months she watched him achingly long for something that would never be. And each and every time she saw him break and crumble, she wished and prayed to whoever would listen that one day, he’d look over and see her. And realize she was the glue he’d need to mend his broken soul.
Even though she knew today was not going to be that day, and maybe not even tomorrow or the following day, still, she held onto the hope of her own demented dreams. And as she brought the not-quite-clean porcelain mug housing her not-quite-worth-it $8.00 coffee to her lips, she smiled and thought…
It’s okay, he’s worth the wait.