Sometimes, bad days can turn out to be the starts of amazing weeks. Riley learned this the hard way.
Her day started off with the worst tragedy of all: sleeping through her alarm. Although she worked from home, she still had meetings to attend. So there she was. With bed-head, un-showered, coffeless, and making very important business decisions. As one can imagine, there was no way she had her video on during that zoom meeting. After that, she went to take a shower, but the water simply refused to become warm. She resorted to a cold shower, and sadly shivered as she became clean.
Riley again joined a meeting from her own couch, and barely paid attention as she was watching TV over her computer screen. She decided to make breakfast after, as a normal person does. However, as she scrambled her eggs, she smelled something off. As she looked-and indeed sniffed- closer at the eggs on the stove in front of her, the sulfur-y smell reached her nose. A groan passed her lips and she threw out the rotten eggs and had to wash a dish which she had not the pleasure of eating the product. Of course, she did have cereal, but after fantasizing about well-made eggs with a bit of cheese, soggy granola in soy milk just didn’t have the same appeal.
Hours of dull meetings upstaged by even duller TV later, Riley went to go check on her pets.
Riley, in her neighborhood, was known as “just different” to the little kids and a weirdo to the adults who thought she wasn’t listening. In her backyard, she had a chicken coop, of sorts. It was much larger, it was quite loud, and it required possibly more attention than a toddler. From inside the coop, her neighbors could hear squawks and feathers rustling throughout the day. The cops have been called a few times, but after presenting paperwork and extensive questioning, she was always let off without any consequences. As one might have guessed, the creatures in that coop were pigeons.
Riley had begun her pigeon affinity at a young age, when she had witnessed- sadly- a baby pigeon being crushed by a backing car. Later, sobbing, she had seen what she assumed were its parents seem to mourn it. That event had scarred her. Her parents hadn’t known why she was so sad, as it was a tiny event, not a life-changing experience. Anyway, when she grew up and had the mistake of gaining her own money, she began to research how to own wild animals. Once she was confident it was legal and safe, she rescued pigeons. It was strange, to be sure, but it was therapeutic for her; made her think she was doing good in the world.
But to get back to the story, Riley was having a terrible day. When she went to feed her pigeons, a few of them literally flew the coop. That happens, though. Riley can’t just keep them against their will. And they’re rescues, so it is her mission to put them back in the wild. But it’d be sad anyway you slice it.
She spent the rest of the break trying not to cry, as stupid as it was. After many more cameraless zoom meetings, her lunch break was finally here. She decided to go out for lunch for once. She would never- well almost never- leave her neighborhood for anything other than groceries or the odd get-together. But for some reason- today- she was getting a slight case of cabin fever. Also, Riley was NOT in the mood to cook.
At the café, she sat alone at a booth, with a slightly-cold panini and a tinted glass of water. So there she sat.
Sipping the weird tasing water and deciding whether or not to ask the waiter to reheat her panini, she realized someone is standing next to her table.
“Can I sit here? All the other tables are taken,” the someone said.
Riley looked up at the person, pushing her glasses up her nose. In a moment, she tried to assess whether or not this person would be a bother. The girl’s long, curly hair seemed to wrap around her shoulders. It was the kind of hair that you would imagine a sorceress would have, constantly shifting or being blown by non-existent wind.
“Did you hear me… or…” the sorceress began.
“Oh, yeah. Erm… totally! You can sit here,” Riley replied, too stunned to say anything else.
She sat down, setting her knit bag next to her. She took a minute to adjust her long coat before unraveling her silverware and tucking in to eat her food.
Riley tried so hard to keep from staring, but she is mesmerized by this magician. Her eyes are drawn to looking at her clothing, her earrings, her hair clips. Riley wanted to make conversation, but she would have not idea what to talk about. As minutes pass by, the lady finished her food, calls to a waiter for the check, and starts out the door.
“Wait!” Riley called, in spite of herself. The lady turned, confused. “What’s your name? I was so engrossed in my meal that I forgot to ask.”
“Er. It’s Emily. And you?” Emily replied.
“Riley,” she responded. Emily walked out the door, presumably still confused. Riley watched her, and noticed the whole of the café’s guests staring at her. Riley grew red and slumped in her seat. She finished her meal and got home just in time for another meeting, this time with the video on.
Remarks are made on how happy Riley looks in the meeting before work starts. It has been months since her coworkers have seen her face.
The rest of the day flew by between more meetings and breaks. She takes her mind off the girl, Emily, but she’s always there. Sneaking into her brain like water can slip through the tiniest crack. The next day, she went back to the café for lunch.
She sat there for a while, but Emily didn’t show up. As she was walking out the door, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a figure in a long skirt and curling hair. Riley turned around and waved, determined to keep cool. Emily, presumably determined to throw Riley off, put on a winning smile and waved back. Riley, beet red basically ran back to her house.
She hadn’t felt this way since middle school and the popular girl smiled at her. Back at her house, she spent a while staring in the mirror and forcing herself to stop being a tomato. It didn’t really work. Riley just din’t get it. She was an adult with a job and a house, but she’s having some sort of school girl crush. So obviously, her camera wasn’t on.
Days passed like minutes the entirety of the week. Every lunch, shhe would go tot the café, get a glimpse of her mystery miss (sometimes even exchange a few sentences!), then leave. She talked to one of her few friends and -obviously- they told her to talk to Emily.
Riley, on Friday, she steeled herself and knew in her heart, mind, and soul she would talk to Emily. Riley sat in the café, waiting for the mystery woman to walk in as she always does. The past does tend to repeat, so as Riley expected, Emily walked in.
Riley waved Emily over, and to her horror, Emily walked over. Riley took a deep breath and started her meticulously planned speech: “I thought we got off on the wrong foot, so I was wondering if we could talk for a bit.” Riley was sure she was practically a tomato by the end of her sentence. To her utter surprise and pleasure, Emily smiled.
“That would be lovely.” At that moment, Riley’s insides melted into her shoes.