Writing by Kyle Freelander
Truth be told, I miss him. I had been trying to hide that fact from others and myself for a while now but there was no point anymore. I could no longer avoid the parties he went to, the games he was going to play in, and the halls where his classes were and claim we weren’t friends anymore because I didn’t care. No, that wasn’t the case at all. I didn’t even have to try and avoid him because I knew he would be trying just as hard as I was to never have our paths cross again. No matter where I went, he was nowhere to be found. That is, he was nowhere to be found until today.
I spotted him as soon as he walked into the coffee shop. I nearly spit my white mocha out all over my book but I captured my surprise in time to regain the appearance of composure in case he looked my way. From my seat near the door, I could only see the back of him as he found his place in line, one person away from the counter. He was at the cash register, probably ordering his usual: dark roast, two sugars. Some things about him would never change: the coffee he drank, the way his brown hair remained disheveled no matter how many times he claimed to have brushed it, and how he was never able to sense my presence in a crowded coffee shop the way I could sense his.
From behind my book I watched him as he handed the cashier his credit card. Part of me wanted to remain unnoticed by him because I knew it was best for both of us but the other part of me knew he was going to see me on the way out. It didn’t occur to me until the woman handed him his coffee that I could have left by now. I could have snuck out and he wouldn’t even have known that I was here, but it was too late. He took his coffee from her and turned to leave. I ducked further behind my book as he started walking in my direction. I knew now that I didn’t want him to see me because that meant I would be forced to look into those familiar brown eyes again and remember everything I tried so hard to forget: the time we walked hand in hand through the snow, the night he told me he loved me over Fritos and a movie, the meaningful glances and kisses up until he said goodbye. A few months weren’t enough to bury those memories forever and I knew one look from him would be enough to bring them all back to the surface.
The door chimed as he left the shop. I put my book down on the table, surprised that it actually doubled as a hiding spot. Sure, it was intended to be one but I pretty much knew he was going to see me anyway and, with flushed cheeks, I would put the book down with a laugh about how I was just so into the story. Then that crooked smile would come over his face like it always did when I was doing something I knew was probably stupid but he insisted was actually adorable. He would sit in the empty seat across from me and we would talk for hours about all the things that made us go wrong until we made all of them go away so that we could be right again. That’s what was supposed to happen. He wasn’t just supposed to leave without so much as a glance.
I looked out the window and, through the painted letters advertising the shop’s seasonal coffee, I watched him cross the parking lot. I guess today was not the day we were meant to talk again. He set his coffee on top of his car as he pulled his keys out but his attention was clearly elsewhere. I tried to follow his gaze, but I could only guess what he was looking at from the back of his head. I couldn’t figure out what he found so fascinating in a lot full of cars. He turned around and our eyes met through the glass. I leapt back a little in my seat bumping the table enough to cause my coffee to dance in the mug. He waved at me and I had no choice but to wave back as if I hadn’t been waiting for this moment ever since he walked in or, more accurately, ever since he had walked out. Behind him I could now make out my own car and I knew exactly what he had seen that made him turn around and search the coffee shop. Maybe he was just as surprised about our run in but, if he was, he didn’t stay long enough for me to find out. There was nothing more to be done after waves were exchanged and, as always, he was the one who got to go away.
By: Kyle Freelander