Love Story

Submitted into Contest #9 in response to: Write a story about unrequited love.... view prompt

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Romance

I have never felt worthy of the love of others. I’m not sure why. I came from a warm and loving home but I never thought that I would find my one true love. Before my parents died and left me alone, they’d always tell each other the story of how they met and fell in love. It was as though they were telling each other for the first time with me listening in beside them. The dramatic retelling was like a beautiful love story coming alive on stage. It always made my heart ache, because I never thought I’d get to do the same with a wife of my own. Especially when I got to seventeen years old and still hadn’t even had a girlfriend.

That was why I was so surprised. You know, on the first day we met, fifteen years ago today. It was like something out of a movie. I was stressed and tired from a long week at work so I decided to take a walk in the park. The sky seemed like ink had been spilled in water and the darkness was carefully seeping outwards to the horizon. As I turned the corner, there you were. I crashed into you knocking the shopping stacked in your arms to the floor. Just a few light boxes which barely made a sound as they bounced on the grass.

You insisted you were fine and even apologised to me. I couldn’t just walk on and leave you there so I helped you pick up your shopping and put it away in a supermarket bag from my pocket. We were close and your hair kept touching my face. It smelled like cherries.

As you hurried away, out of the park, I couldn’t help but watch you leave, wondering if we’d ever meet again. I went home and for the first night in a long time, I slept easy, feeling more connected to someone than I’d felt in a long time.

A few days went by and I had all but forgotten the encounter when I entered the coffee shop where you work. I saw you behind the counter cleaning the machines while others served the long line ahead of me. I instantly recognised you and couldn’t believe that fate had given me a second chance to talk with you. I remembered how I felt that night, but quickly waved the thought away. It was silly to dream about a chance meeting resulting in a relationship.

As the queue got shorter, I felt like I was climbing onto a plane with a parachute in hand. As I got nearer to the counter, it was clear that you remembered me too. You kept stealing glances of me and seemed a bit fidgety and nervous. Of course, I was too. I had a knot in my stomach as though I was stood at an open door at 10,000 feet. When I was almost at the counter, you waved me over and asked what I wanted even though you hadn’t served anyone else. Free fall. My mind went blank and I could feel the sweat pooling in my palms.

I eventually gave you my order and waited while you pushed various buttons on the machine until it began to drip coffee into the small cup. You smiled and thanked me for helping with your shopping that night, as you pushed my coffee across the counter towards me. That same cherry scent drifted towards me. I pulled out a crisp note from my wallet and told you to put any change in the tip jar. I looked down at your chest as I turned to leave and read your name badge. “Thank you, Cathy.” You looked a little confused and then followed my eyes to your name badge. You tilted it upwards as though you were reading it for the first time, then just smiled back and said, “No problem.”

I took my drink to a table in the corner and fought the urge to stare at you the whole time. Your long blonde hair was messily tied up but it just made you more attractive, more natural. Perhaps due to your job, you were not wearing much make up or jewellery but your beauty was still intense. I wanted to ask you there and then to go to a movie or out for dinner or whatever it was people did for dates these days.

I am a reasonably smart man but I am not gifted at reading other people. Maybe you were waiting for me to make a move, but my own self-deprecation would not allow me to stand, let alone walk over to you. As you turned your back to the counter, I rushed my phone out of my pocket and took a photo of your back. Feeling overwhelmed, I pushed up from the table and quickly walked out of the store, without finishing my drink.

Just as I crossed the street, I heard your soft voice call out my name. Had you caught me I wondered. I panicked but I turned and there you were smiling. I helplessly floated back towards you. It was my turn to be puzzled now. “I never told you my name.”

“You left your wallet. I took a peek inside so I could call out your name to get your attention. Sorry about that.”

“Oh, of course, no problem. Thanks. I guess I owe you one now.”

“Think nothing of it.” You pushed the wallet into my open palm and walked back to the store. You smiled over your shoulder as you pushed your way inside. I slowly walked back home unable to shake you from my thoughts. When I finally got home, I collapsed on the sofa feeling like the encounter had sapped my energy. I covered my face with a cushion and let out a squeak. I was like a teenager in love. It’s a little embarrassing thinking back on it now.

I fought the urge to go back for a week. I didn’t want to come on too strong, after all. I walked in ready to see you again. I’d played this scenario over in my head all week long. As I looked up, you had your head thrown back in laughter and your hand was on another man’s arm. I was crushed, but the minute you saw me, you said bye to the man and moved back to the tills.

“What can I get ya?”

“Just a coffee, same as last time.”

“Coming up.”

I stood in silence measuring myself against the man you were just with. Anger and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness washed over me. As you brought back my drink I just looked down and dropped a note across the counter. I reached out for the cup and you grabbed my arm. Your touch was so unexpected it almost felt like it was burning my arm. A gentle electrical buzz resonated through my body..

“Hey, are you okay? I know I’ve only seen you, like twice, but you don’t seem yourself.”

You were noticing me. You were actually paying enough attention to me to notice that I was acting different. Once again, I felt like I was floating. I looked up and couldn’t contain my joy.

“That’s better. You have a good day.”

I smugly turned from the counter and past the man at the other end. He knew it and I knew it. It was me she liked. As I sat at the counter beside him, he finished his drink and left. I just watched you working for a while. I noticed the way you brushed the loose strands of hair behind your ear and that you seemed to always be smiling. I finished my drink and, feeling a rush of adrenaline I called out “See you around.” You smiled at me so sweetly as I left.

I tried to wait another week to see you but it was your turn to surprise me. As I walked around the supermarket thinking of what I would say to you the next day, in a twist of fate, you came around the aisle and knocked the shopping out of my hand. I laughed out loud at the coincidence but you didn’t seem yourself. You didn’t seem as happy to see me.

“Hey, is everything okay.”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Sorry about that.” You quickly walked to the tills and gave me a thin smile as you left the store, running into the park. I worried about you all night. I wondered if I should change my schedule. Skip the coffee shop and try again in a few days, but I was too worried.

As I entered the shop, there was a queue, so I waited patiently to see you. When I got to the front, there was my order, waiting for me at the counter.

“Oh, wow, now that’s service.”

“I hoped you’d say that. That deserves a good tip, right?” I laughed aloud at your playfulness and felt relief that you were back to your normal self. I dropped two notes into your hand and went to a corner table to enjoy my drink. I was going to do it. Today was the day. I could feel the courage welling up inside me until I felt like I was vibrating from the pressure. I just became more resolute as I saw you talking to the other staff and looking my way. I wanted it and you wanted it. I was so sure.

In one fluid motion, to stop me from aborting my mission, I rose from my seat and walked straight over to the counter.

“Back for more?”

“Erm, kind of.”

“What can I get you?”

“A date? With me I mean.”

“Oh.” We stood in silence for eternity. You looked like you were trying to carefully construct the next sentence, as though it was the most important one in the world. “No, I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“Oh. Do you have a boyfriend? Is this week no good?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s just…” You didn’t finish the sentence. You just stared at me with a pitying look on your face. One I’d seen too often, but had hoped to never see on you.

“Oh, well, actually, never mind. I’m sorry. In fact, I’ve gotta…” I nodded at you and left in a hurry. I felt like such a fool. I wished the world would end there and then. It was the most pain I’d ever felt.

I obviously didn’t go back to the coffee shop after that. Slowly after a few weeks, the urge to visit you subsided a little. I only thought about you once, maybe twice a day as I looked at your photo saved in my phone. It had been brief but it had been very special to me. Days had gone by quicker. The world had seemed brighter. I knew we’d be good together. I’d look after you and never hurt you. I just needed a chance to prove myself.

I had been taking a walk every evening in the park, the one from the first time I met you, hoping we’d run into each other and patch up what was broken. I picked up the same coat as always and headed towards the park. You were there. Walking through the park. Our eyes locked and I quickly turned away, losing my nerve. I need to go home. I could hear you laugh from behind and run over to me.

“Hey, I’m sorry about, well, everything okay. We don’t need to avoid each other.” We had a pleasant chat for a few minutes and then separated. My heart begged me to make her mine. I turned to get her attention and fell. “Ah, my ankle.”

“Oh my god, are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” I stood up but limped and yelped as I put my right leg down.

“Come on, let me help you.”

You took my weight and helped me as I guided you to my house. I looked longingly at you and my heart reached out, hoping we would one day be together.

As we stood at the bottom of my yard I looked at you, looking the same as always with your messy hair and calm face.

“Well, I’d better go.”

“Oh, are you sure, come in, I’ll call you a cab. To say thanks.”

“I’d better not. I’ll see you around. Come by the shop again?”

“Wait!” You stopped in place, looking a little shocked and stared into my eyes. I leaned closer into you until we were almost touching.

“Please come in.”

You didn’t back away but just put your open palm on my chest. You had a nervous smile on your face. Perhaps if I had the right words I could have convinced you to come in and be mine. My plan to win you over with an injury had got you this far, but I knew this was probably as far as it would take me. Your hair was whipping around my face and filled me with your scent. I had to go for it. Time to be brave. Tears welled in my eyes and my stomach turned to lead.

“I’m sorry,” tears flowed down my cheeks “you should have just come in and done this the easy way.” I pulled out my stun gun and pushed it into your side, catching you with my other arm as you went limp.

And that is the story of how we first met. 

October 01, 2019 12:31

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1 comment

01:25 Oct 16, 2019

Wait.. what? This was really good, but I´m a little confused, because I never got any hints that he had this type of personality except for at the beginning. Vut also the beginning was just about him thinking he couldn´t find love, not that he had a dark side killing people or at least a hint of that. But overall, really loved the story and all of your work that I have read. Could you please tell me where I went wrong with this comment so I can just see where I misunderstood. Thank you!

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