The cars on the road, the clouds in the sky, the kids running around, the birds flying.
It’s unnerving to see everything so still and silent. It’s unnatural, really. There’s always some kind of noise somewhere. It’s interesting to see what people were doing before they stopped.
Walking through a coffee shop, for example. The place is mostly empty, with only eight people, but each tells a different story.
The place is decorated in red hearts, and flowers, and sweet words. Red and pink seem to be the theme, and they have heart shaped everything.
The barista with the unruly curls that has frozen midfall, who has a red heart half pinned to his apron, looks clumsy and unorganized. But if you look behind the counter, he has receipts and papers stacked neatly, and ready to be put away. He organizes the back room for a little extra money each day. His coworker, the one working tables, has a foot stuck out to trip him, but only because the barista is getting more tips.
The sketchy looking man in the back table isn’t a bad person. His dark, heavy clothes, and big bag on the ground by his feet may look suspicious, and he may be judged by his dark skin, and the way the menu is in front of his face. The cashier is looking at him worriedly, like he’s going to pull out a weapon, but in reality, he’s just there for some food. Someone gave him a five, and he’s trying to read the menu for the cheapest choice. He can’t afford glasses, so he has to squint to read.
The girl sitting in the corner with a hood over her head looks misleading. She likes the coffee shop, since they know her well, but outside, and at home, she’s never been able to be herself. There are papers on front of her, a map, and a list of safe places with options ticked off. An envelope of saved money, and a forged note for her doctor is on her pocket. She’s decided a date already, and wanted to see the coffee shop one last time before she leaves.
A man is at the counter, head turned to the barista as he holds his phone to his ear. His hand hovers over the bag of food, and drink. He looks aggravated and stressed, and looks like he rushed to get there. He’s ordered one of their banana cream cupcakes that never sell, and hot chocolate mixed with a drop of jelly. It’s not for him, he told the barista. His wife is begging him to get it before she gets to the hospital. His shoes are on the wrong feet, his hair is a mess, and he’s wearing a pajama shirt under his messily buttoned jacket. His lips are parted, about to say something into the phone. What, I wonder?
Outside the window, there’s someone paused mid-run, tears frozen on their face. Are they running away? Is something wrong? No. They’re running to their partner, who has a grin fixed on their face, arms outstretched. They haven’t seen each other in a while, I assume. Matching rings flash in the sunlight, adorning the finger on their right hands.
I step in a dark corner I was in before everything starts up again, and watch.
The couple outside collapses into each other, crying happy tears.
The man grabs his things, and rushes out, his thanks drowned out by the bell above the door.
The girl thanks the waiter when he passes by, and he looks at her strangely, but says, no problem, Angela. It warms her heart, and she hides a smile.
The waiter stops at the table with the squinting man, leaning over to help him read. Later, once he brings the food, he leaves a twenty on the plate, and waves away the money he’s given.
The barista almost hits the ground, but the person at the table near grabs his shirt, pulling him back up. Before he leaves, he has a new number in his phone.