“Hi, do you mind if I share the table with you?”
“Sure, go ahead,” I replied with a smile.
The place was surprisingly packed for a Sunday. I failed to notice when I came in earlier.
“Do you always go here?” you ask.
“On weekends, when I can. I could never do any writing at home.” Which was true. I would always end up sleeping or binge watching instead of finishing a story I was writing. I noticed that you were holding a book with a piece of the bookmark sticking out. You had not opened it yet since you sat down.
“I really admire writers. It is so easy for me to tell a story, but do not count on me to put it on paper,” you said as you let go of the book and cupped both your hands on your drink.
“What’s that book you’re reading?” I asked, trying not to stare at your hands. I had not typed a single word since you came.
“It’s nothing, you’d make fun of me,” you said with a mild blush on your cheeks. You got the book and raised it so I can see it past from the view blocked by my laptop.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I read that book a couple of years ago. I didn’t understand why you would think I’d make fun of you reading that book. You got me curious.
“So,” you said as you opened the book and started reading it, while I, on the other hand tried to type but ended up with random words that didn’t mean a thing, “why do you think this place is so full during Valentine’s day?”
I looked around to affirm your observation, and you were right. All tables were occupied, with most of them cradling a single person either staring at their coffee or just blankly staring at nothing.
I let out a soft laugh, realizing that, wow, I was one of those people. If you hadn’t come, I would be sitting here alone. “I’m not sure, really. Maybe, they have no plans until later tonight?”
“Maybe,” you quipped and sipped from your cup. By this time, I stopped trying too hard to write and just stared at you. Creepy, I know, but I wished and thought you would not notice. Besides, it seemed like you were so into the book now.
“I was supposed to have plans today,” you said lifting your gaze to my direction, which really startled me.
“What happened?” I probed. You supposedly having plans didn’t really surprise me, seeing how you could really be involved with someone.
“Ah, short notice,” you said and then somehow hesitated to continue. “I guess last night he realized he didn’t like me anymore.”
I didn’t know what to respond. Yes, I noticed the pronoun you used and yes, I was a bit shocked, but no, I still did not know how to react.
“At least you got to enjoy the journey of making those plans. All things considered, you are still quite lucky.” It was late when I realized how out of place my comment was.
You just bowed your head and faked a smile.
“I’m sorry. Still fresh, huh?” I apologized.
“Yeah. But hey, at least I get to enjoy this cup of coffee with a writer, right?” you said, which somehow came to me as you assuring that I did not offend you. Thank you.
“Well, feel free to share the table with me as long as you want. I’m pretty sure I’ll be here for a little while longer.”
You then asked me the question I was hoping you’d never ask. “How about you? Why the grand plan of spending this day in this place alone?”
I pretended I was typing. I let the sound of my keyboard clicking drown out the awkward silence, hoping you would get the hint that I was too ashamed to provide an answer. But instead, you leaned forward a bit toward me, waiting for my response. And so I gave it to you
“Last year, I was a wreck. I made a series of bad decisions that ultimately led me to this moment,” I answered vaguely.
“You know what the beauty of today is?” you asked. I was not sure if this was still in connection with what I just said, or you just decided to go off topic. “The beauty of today is that it is just one day: Twenty-four hours to let those who are lucky enough to find someone to enjoy and affirm their love. As for people like us, today is just twenty-four hours to reflect on what went wrong.”
I was just amazed. I was embarrassed to think how it showed in my face, but I was at awe.
“In the end, today is just that—today. We’ll have a lot more ‘todays’ to make things right,” you continued. “I mean, I hope to God we make things right somehow,” you added with a laugh.
“Wow,” was all I could say.
“Oh, shit, I just blabbered. I’m sorry.”
“No, no, no. I was impressed, to be honest.”
“I told you, I can tell good stories,” you quipped with a wide smile. I reciprocated his smile while trying to rewind what just happened, just to experience it all over again in my mind.
“How could I forget my manners?” you said and offered your hand to me. “I’m Kevin. And you are?”
Happy Valentine’s Day. After watching The Last Five Years for the nth time, I was inspired to write a story. Totally fictional. I hope you enjoyed it.