a story about a girl and two boys – 6

My alarm clock beeps. I reach out and hit the snooze button. I close my eyes again and think to myself, it’s another Tuesday today. It was exactly a week ago when I agreed to something I’m already regretting. I listen to the water running. He’s showering. He’s always the morning person, but long ago he would wake me up and then we would have our morning cuddles. I can’t remember the last time I woke up to him and not to my alarm clock. It was another lifetime ago. When Charlie was the person I knew and I was happy.

The alarm beeps again and I turn it off. I’ll pretend to be asleep so I can dodge another awkward morning. The water stops and I listen to him humming. He’s in a good mood today. He opens the bathroom door and simultaneously I close my eyes. I can hear his steps walking around the room, but they are always distant. From the bathroom to his closet, to the dressing table on which he stops for a while – combing his hair most likely, but never to the bed. The steps grow fainter and he’s out the door. I sigh heavily. There is no more goodbye, no more morning kisses, nothing. It’s just silence. Is this really how it’s supposed to be between two people that are getting married? This feeling I’m feeling can’t be normal. Time and time again I want to tell him that every single time you see me looking at you with nothing more to say, that’s me slipping away. So do something Charlie! Don’t let me slip away! But I hold back. I always hold back, I don’t know why. Maybe the rejection, I just cannot stand it anymore. I wipe the tears that are welling up. No more crying Kate, I scold myself. I get up and decide to get myself to the workshop earlier today. Writing will distract me – even for a little while.

I park my car and walk to the entrance. It’s closed. I peek inside, it’s too dark, I can see nothing, apparently I am way too early. I look around and see a Starbucks across the street. I’ll just grab a coffee and wait there until the owner opens. I hate sitting down by myself, but it beats standing in front of a closed workshop. Crossing the street, I think to myself, I don’t know the owner’s name, maybe I’ll ask him today. Maybe it will be nice to have a conversation with a stranger for a change. I get to the coffee shop and surprisingly it’s quite deserted. I order my usual Caramel Macchiato and Peanut Butter Panini, choose a seat across the door so I can look across the street, and start munching.

The front door opens and the workshop’s owner enters the coffee shop. What a coincident! Surprising myself I wave and gesture at him to come over. He looks genuinely pleased to see me and wave back. He goes and gets his coffee, walks up to my table, and says “Where were you last Tuesday?”

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I put my coffee down and take a good look at her. She’s even more beautiful outside my workshop with all her seriousness aside. I cannot believe that I’m looking at the person whom has occupied my mind for the past week. And she’s OK. I am so glad that she’s OK. I don’t know why but I had been worried sick that something was wrong with her. I feel so stupid. She’s practically a stranger but she has this powerful hold of me. And I’m looking at her. And she’s so beautiful.

I sit down and put my sketch book on the table. “By the way, I’m Leon. Leon Riley. I don’t think I know your name?” I put my hand out and she shakes it. “Kate Adler. Oh, Leon is your name!! I thought it was just the name of your gallery. It’s not a common name, is it? Can I just call you Riley? I insist. I’ll call you Riley. What time do you open, Riley? I came early and your shop was closed so I decided to come here and wait. Who knew that I’d bump into you here…” She finishes her long sentences and takes a sip of her coffee. She looks much more relaxed now but still somehow guarded. I wish I could just sit here and watch her talk all day. We converse over coffee and out of the blue she asks, “Is that your sketch book? Can I take a look?” I hand it over to her and she flips through the pages, stopping every now and then to take a second look, and then she stops and gets really serious.

Oh shoot! The sketch of her face I drew the night she didn’t show! She’s looking at it now. I hope she doesn’t recognize it, but who am I kidding, that’s her face right there. I watch in silence as she scrutinizes the drawing. She looks up at me with amusement in her eyes, she asks, “Is this me?” I nod and tell her briefly about what happened last Tuesday night. Obviously missing the fact that I almost went nuts when she didn’t show. And then she smiles her first smile, the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen, and says, “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

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