Dawn H. | November 29, 2017
I’ve seen this guy a couple of times.
I could’ve encountered a lot more people for more than once, or have been encountered by someone many times I wouldn’t even know. In a relatively small city like this, passing by the same person is never really impossible. People wouldn’t know. They wouldn’t even care. No one was going to notice the same face. It shouldn’t really be that surprising.
Yet it’s never to underestimate the simple act of noticing.
In this small coffee shop, right across the room was the very same guy with the narrow glasses. His clean and tidy dark hair had grown about an inch longer from the last time I saw him. Strangely there weren’t glints of gel in them, even though they were standing sturdy away from his forehead. He had his eyes half closed at the screen of his laptop, typing down without diverting his eyes. A cup of coffee rested a safe distance away, its steam disappeared from the long exposure of the shop’s air conditioner.
I’ve seen lots of guys wearing glasses, whatever the size, whatever the shape. With gadgets almost everywhere, it shouldn’t be something uncommon. This guy right across me should’ve passed my eyes like I didn’t even know he existed.
Yet he didn’t.
I wasn’t even sure if it was the glasses. He had this overall distinguishable feature that was difficult to label. Words had been on the tip of my tongue for a single word description. Only one thing lingered on top of my head.
Very geeky. He looked like he came out from an anime movie. And the fact that he was tall made him more noticeable. Slightly skinny as well. He could very well fit the typical features of nerd guys in silly YA novels. The only gap that made him a “geek” was the dose of confidence in his posture. I was seeing a man, not a loser. His face was painted with responsibilities, not video games.
And he seemed to have come directly from work.
Black checkered button-down polo shirt. For more than five times of seeing him in just about three months, that was mostly what I’ve seen of him. Otherwise, he’d be wearing the same thing with a plain color, or a simple polo t-shirt. All of them were probably worn for work.
He’d be walking on a sidewalk towards the city bank. Sometimes the narrow area behind the church, sometimes in other random places. Yet despite all that, every encounter I had with him were all mere coincidence, no matter how odd the numbers were. Similar routes, that’s all there was to it. No more, no less.
But I just couldn’t ignore how odd it was for him to be here.
Especially on a weekday.
Maybe Last-Day Friday is applicable to everyone—the only least hectic day on working days. I grabbed the opportunity to work somewhere peaceful, and it could very well be the same reason for him to be here too.
Speaking of work, I decided to ignore his presence. Seeing him engrossed in his work had me remember my own tasks. My eyes landed on the files on my table, then my gaze slipped through the glass wall beside me. The moment I lifted my eyes, my heart sank.
Before I was dismayed even further, the rain poured, drenching the concrete as quickly as it came. The glass wall ceased from being transparent as the wind sent huge droplets trickling down to the sill. I sank further on my chair. How am I supposed to leave? With the wind so strong, waiting for a cab under an umbrella would still get me wet.
And I didn’t have an umbrella.
The sigh came out through my crunched nose and my shoulders sagged. Well then, if I had to stay here long, at least I should buy something to ease the building chill. I turned towards the menu boards behind the counter, and immediately my stomach churned. I didn’t think I could take another coffee. Smoothies didn’t look too warming either.
My fingers tapped the side of my nose as I considered my choice. I read through the menu written in colorful chalk marks. Although this was a coffee shop, they had a couple of other things to choose from—pastas, sandwiches, frappes, and the like. Yet none had reached my preference, even until I reached the farthest menu board.
Then I forgot about food. Something caught my peripheral vision, and my attention was drawn right back across the room.
The guy changed stance. His head was on his hand propped against the surface of his table, staring out through the glass wall to the rainy weather outside. I noticed that his things were now packed, probably ready to leave. And the rain didn’t allow him yet.
He didn’t seem to mind, though. He actually looked so…melancholic. The way he stared at the rain betrayed how he was so deep in thought. A problem, perhaps? Stress? Or just felt relaxed at the sound of the rain? Whatever it was, he wasn’t letting anything disturb the moment. He didn’t acknowledge the man who bumped against his table. Nothing wavered his gaze even when people passed by.
Even when his phone vibrated under his hand.
His gaze eventually faltered, now diverted to his device. I expected him to answer a call, but squinted at it instead. The longer his eyes moved from left to right, the more his squinting eyes turned into a displeased furrow. It was a surprise he didn’t actually drop the phone on the table in annoyance—or wrath. But he set it facing down. Then he leaned against his chair, then sighed.
Then he looked at me.
I didn’t know how I missed it before, but his eyes were grey. With the help of the dim afternoon light, they were glowing silver. I never knew there was such an eye color until now. It was fascinating. The color complemented his feature that perhaps held so many things. Just as how his eyes, despite his previous annoyance, didn’t hold it anymore. He was now a bit more…searching. Curious, in fact.
Curious of what, I wonder?
Oh. My goodness.
I heard myself internally gasp. The moment I realized it, everything in my system suddenly shut down and I immediately froze.
I was never one to acknowledge a complete stranger, much less start a conversation. Yet the moment he caught my gaze, I knew looking away wouldn’t make things better.
Should I acknowledge him? Look away?
I wasn’t able to do anything.
With that simple gesture, I felt myself starting to relax. Part of me was surprised, yet I was too thankful and was able to smile back. He didn’t seem to bother about it, as to why I was staring. He was just full of…understanding, all of it evident in his glowing silver eyes.
I eventually looked away, both embarrassment and guilt were slowly eating me the more I stared. It took me a few more time to forget about his presence before I was back at the thought of leaving. No more coffees. I filed my papers in a folder before placing it inside my bag, set it at my lap and stared through the glass wall.
The rain fortunately calmed down into a moderate pour, yet it still wasn’t light enough for me to walk through without getting soaked. The wind eased down as well, conveniently, just right in time as my jacket gave up its purpose of warming me up.
I saw a cab parked on the other side of the road, and it quickly got me on my feet. If I could let it turn on my lane, I’d have my ticket home.
My reaction was too slow. I was on the entrance and got myself out. The cab was zooming away. The screech of its tire and the rain muddled my voice when I called out. It disappeared around the corner, and my hope crashed to the ground.
My heart sank once again. I hugged myself for warmth, at least thankful for the extended roof of the coffee shop. I wasn’t able to appreciate the small things any further, however, as the heavy clouds didn’t look too promising. There was only a small chance for a cab to go around this route. A cab stop nearby was at least quite relieving, yet the rain wasn’t too friendly to me.
And it was too cold for me to go back inside.
Raindrops were the only things echoing in my ears, failing me to notice the glass door opening behind me. My peripheral vision didn’t see the figure standing next to me as well.
Not until he spoke.
“Are you waiting for a cab?”
The softness of his low voice had me look up, and I saw pair of silver eyes staring down at me through his narrow glasses. His proximity allowed me to notice more details about him—slight dark shade under his eyes and his wide lips. The fact without the gel was right, but some of his hair strands weren’t parallel with the rest. Don’t judge a book by its cover, they said, yet his appearance alone already told a lot about him.
He looked much more likeable up close.
“Yeah,” I said, smiling. Then my face fell a bit, my gaze landing at the umbrella he shuffled between his hands. Despite how busy they were, his eyes were unpeeled from me. “There aren’t a lot of them around this part, though.”
I heard something click. Then a shade enveloped me as he hovered the umbrella above us. “There’s a cab stop around the next block. I can take you there.”
I almost stumbled on nothing from his sudden offer. “N-no, it’s okay. I wouldn’t want to disturb you.”
“I’m heading the same way, don’t worry. It might get dark before the rain stops.”
He could very well be right about that, but I was still hesitant. I got squeezed between the chance to get home and the embarrassment of accepting his offer. At the same time, I didn’t want him to wait too long for an answer.
I didn’t want the chance to slip either.
I thought I might also be rude—or even stupid—to decline. I nodded.
I’m not one to start a conversation, and my pride just kicked in at the wrong time and decided I didn’t want this to be awkward. Especially because I was under someone else’s umbrella. The whole trip was taking about one to two minutes on foot. A silence that long would have my pride eat me for the rest of my life.
Thankfully, the silence only lasted a few seconds.
“Busy day?” he asked. His voice was full of kindness, yet odd how it came out in a whisper.
“Yeah.” A bitter smile crept up my face. “Gotta do the work.”
“No choice, right?” He stole a glance I couldn’t read before turning back to the road. Part of it sounded bitter, yet I couldn’t help but think that, with that inscrutable glance he just did, it was perhaps sympathetic.
I let out a dry laugh. “Workplaces had always been this way.”
We made a turn. The cab stop came on sight a few meters away.
“Wouldn’t hurt to relax a bit.”
Although he was right, my mind flashed back to the coffee shop several minutes ago. Carefully considering my words, I said, “You seemed pretty busy as well. Back at the coffee shop.”
He shot me another mysterious smile, smaller than what his wide lips were capable of. I couldn’t figure out what that meant, but it got my chest squeezing at the thought that he might well be referring to me staring at him.
Yet it was quite unlikely.
“A lot of things happened,” he whispered. I wasn’t able to speak after that. Maybe it was the feeling of respecting whatever privacy was in that statement, or noticing that slight melancholic expression coming back on his face.
We got into the shed on the cab stop. The rain lighted down a bit by then, the absence of the wind had me let out a contented sigh.
He set aside his open umbrella. “I’ll leave you here then.”
I nodded gratefully. “Thank you. I really appreciate it for taking me here.”
He surprised me again by reaching out his hand, but I quickly followed and shook it. His grip was firm and gentle, his mysterious well-being radiating and warming me up. I gave him another thank you, and answered me another of his inscrutable smile. His silver eyes blinked, and his face turned soft.
Then he whispered. “Thank you.”
I don’t know how his simple words held such deep context. That had been lingering on my nerves by the time he first spoke to me. I wanted to ask, find out more about him, yet the shallowness of our connection created a boundary I know I shouldn’t cross.
The umbrella was back above him as he let go of my hand. He turned to leave and out the rain. Then he stopped. Turned back to me. And smiled again.
“I’ll see you soon.”
I watched him disappear in another corner, my mind lingering at his farewell greeting. Deep contexts and simple words. I was now convinced that our conversation wasn’t out of formality. Simple words, yet weighed more than it sounded.
He didn’t fail to leave me with so much curiosity.
I’ll see you soon.
I didn’t know the meaning underneath those words. But it wasn’t hard to believe that I was going to see him again.
Posted on Wattpad | “Quick Streaks”
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