Friday, November 1, 2013

Time Washes Pain

After having one hour on bus, changing two central bus stops, here I am now. Wondering what the hell I am doing here. What is it I am seeking for? Memory? Satisfaction?

Ten years leaving this country, leaving this metropolitan city to be exact, I feel like an alien. I almost get lost in my own birth-town without this small directory note from my brother. One thing that I am familiar with: the hot polluted air from the vehicle. I waved my hand to banish dark air from my face.

The coffee shop standing few meters away attracting my sight.

Is it still there?

My heart is beating wildly. I run into the porch and I smell bitter-sweet from the shop. Despite my nervousness ever since I stepped on the alley, I have to admit that I feel old homey that makes explosion in my chest. I cant hold a smile longer. It sends me back years ago when I was wearing white-grey uniform with long straight dark hair.

I found some differences here, the paints, the name tag, the bleachers. But they don’t change the feeling home here.

I close my eyes for seconds and start to imagine the old coffee shop. Laughter, warm chatters, soft music, door bell, the clap of the owner to call his barista. I really missed all of these when I was in New York, so visiting this was one of my few things that made me cry.

One of two actually.

I missed this place not only because of this place itself, but also because of the reminiscence in this place. The place of my first date with him.

On my flight home, I had promised to myself that it would be my first place I visited after I had arrived. And now, just two days after my arrival at my home town, here I am.

I have to find out if it’s still here.

I push open the glass door, hear the familiar bells jingling from above. I am completely taken back by how nothing has really changed. I could even spot the regular customers mingling with one another. Am I the only one who have actually left town? Have these people been here all along when I was gone? Has the old man in gray tweed coat been sipping his espresso all these times while I traveled the road of Manhattan, walked along fifth Avenue, sunbathed in West Coast? Has the woman in the red sweater aged at all as she sits there laughing with her girlfriends? Has the coffee stain in the wall near the bathroom been cleared at all?

I am smiling. It is totally homey.

I go to the window near the counter. Sit on the chair and touch the surface of the window frame. I find what I was looking for, two initials craved. It’s still here. 

I wave my hand in the air. A young barista looks up and smiles, “Morning. What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a tall signature coffee to go, please. And, um do you still have the strawberry short-cake? I’ll have that –“

“Either my sight has failed or I am seeing my most favorite angel in life ....”

I turn, surprised  and feels a grin lift up my entire face when I see whose the bass voice belongs to. “Mewborn!” I cry at the owner, giving the old man with graying hair a big bear hug. “Great seeing you!”

“Didn’t know you were back in town!” He shows coffee-stained teeth. “Missing your strawberry short cake, kid?”

I laugh. “I cant run away from the sweetness of it!”

“High school was long time ago, and you don’t change that taste!” Mewborn gives a nod to his barista behind the counter. “Give this kid anything she wants, on the house!”

“Mewborn, you don’t have to -"

“That’s the way I homecoming my favorite, kid!”

“Why did you get that coffee to go anyway? What’s the rush?"

“I –“ I am looking for answer. “I have stuff to do!”

After few heartwarming chats with nice old Mewborn, I am left alone at the pick-up counter waiting for my order. Minutes later I thank  the barista for the food and places some generous tip inside the jar. But, I remember something, I left my direction memo on the counter near the window. I go back and take the memo with glancing the initial crave for the last time. Then my feet are remain frozen, there is something below it. I focus my sight trying to read that.

You'll be my forever

He is not here, isn’t he? I look around the cafe in alarm. I feel dizzy all of sudden. The last time I heard, he also move out of town. So he must have written this back then ... eight years ago when all hell broke loose when confessions were made, when he sat in front of me with his head hung low, when he uttered the heart-stabbing words of not being able to choose, when I felt pain like nothing I ever experienced before, when I let him see some tear shed on my face, when I hurt him with a good bye, when I left him in the parking lot and making him vow to never bother me again for the rest of my life for the first time, when I said things that I never really meant.

My hands are trembling, I grip my brown takeaway bag tighter. Rushing reaching the exit then mumbling ‘excuse me’ to the people I accidentally bump into.

“Nay –“

That’s a familiar voice.

“You’re back!”

A face that I miss shows up. He is taller, have more muscle than I remember. I smell his perfume in the air. His smile still fires a spark inside my chest.



***

This is my first published English short story
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