LGBTQ+ Mystery Romance


I walk down up the busy city streets. The wind tosses my hair over my shoulders. The wind plays with fallen leaves, pushing them gently until they leap in all directions, flailing in a frantic yet delicate manner. The morning sun dances with the windows, casting bright reflections amongst the bricked walkways. Pedestrians stream through the streets like pools of water, all following a path towards their distinct and separate destinations. I have always wondered how everyone is able to have such the same environment yet entirely different objectives and journeys amongst it all.

I pause further up the sidewalk, meeting with complete strangers to wait at the crosswalk. The light shines red, and cars pass on by as well. Everyone moving past like the leaves in the wind. Each leaf having its own stem, roots, and damaged parts. Perhaps it has been stepped on or an insect had nibbled on its skin, or-

           A crinkle sound brings my eyes towards my feet for a crumpled piece of paper has laid its stop under my weight. What catches my attention is that ink kisses it with a message. The light changes, displaying a walking figure signaling we can cross. With no hesitation, I crouch to pick up the paper and quickly shuffle across the street with many other lives beside mine. We are like a family of ducks, except we do not follow into a group once we are across, instead splitting like the veins on the very leaves that-.

Right, the piece of paper.

           I reach into my pocket to fish it out. Curiosity is quite the lottery, could end you up in trouble or with treasure. Whilst walking, I keep my head up as I hold the paper in my hands, my warm hands holding the great wonder close to my body. When I reach a place to pause, the smell of reaches me, and I take in a deep breath instantly. I sigh, relieved in the pleasantry in contrast to the garbage streets of this city.

I am at a bench. I dust off a small side of it and decide to sit down. In no big hurry to anywhere in particular, Sunday mornings, I am worry-free. So, I take my time to flatten out the various wrinkles in the white material. Fortunately, it has not rained yet so the paper stays dry although there is a footprint laid on it. Curiosity pinches me and I decide to flip it over, reluctantly ending the thrill.

           “I doubt, therefore I think, I think, therefore I am. Am I delicate enough to shatter into a thousand pieces as I just now have experienced? Am I loved enough to feel warmth across my heart, skin, and bones? Am I strong enough to let her go? I doubt it. I doubt, therefore I think, I think, therefore I am.”

           I read this ink over and over, trying to catch the meaning between the poetic metaphors and the practical sense of it all. At first, I think about just throwing it away, leaving it with the thought that an angsty teenager is feeling into Rene Descartes. However, that is not like me, and this writing is too intriguing to just forget about. Where did this paper come from? Who wrote it? And did I make the right choice deciding to take it with me? I start to think more strongly about this piece of crumpled paper. Whoever wrote it was vague, were they hiding from someone? I start examining the paper, flipping it over and over, staring at the ink. I then notice the faint pencil sketch behind the footprint. It seems that attempts were made to fully erase it. The sketch shows the inside of a small building, chairs and tables lit up by windows appeased once more by the morning sun. I try depicting the strange organic shapes the border it, what I thought was dirt from the streets. My search reluctantly ends as my phone dings. I fold the paper, tucking it into my pocket’s safety and pull out my device. It’s a message from my mother. I roll my eyes immediately. She is one of those texters who send strange motivational quotes that raise eyebrows. I shake my head, however, and open it knowing that if I do not reply immediately, she will spam in concern. The message is an image, as per usual, of an edited sunrise with the text:

           “Thursday: The day I wonder if aliens would abduct me just to get me out of work.”

           I take a moment of silence to make up for the ones I just lost reading that. I type hastily to remind her of my overflowing love for her and then for a moment, stare back at the message. I don’t dare correct her, saying it is a Sunday. Instead of rolling my eyes again as I do regularly, I decide to just smile. Quickly a frown takes its place. Sunday means that I must work tomorrow, I sigh. It is not a heavy sigh, I enjoy my job, I truly do. I work at a café down the road from this bench I sit at. My favorite customers are those who look held together with books to read, to study from or to write in. They are the early ones who take the window seats, allowing the sun to pour on them. I pull out the folded piece of paper and stare at the sketch intentionally this time. Leaning forward on the edge of the bench, I begin to see it. It is the sketch of a small café, the seating, the tables. The perspective is from a corner, right by the front, and the chair drawn in front of them is empty...

           Sighing, I know that not everything can be certain. This must not be the same café, for God’s sake there are many in the city. My doubt wants me to throw out the paper, but my drive and determination to find this paper’s story is guiding my hand to return it to my pocket. Sorry, Rene Descartes, but I want to find it even though I am uncertain I will ever.

           I get up and blend in with the continuous stream of people, following them towards the café down the road. So many unfamiliar faces pass me by, and I wonder once more about their individual lives and how they are so different- 

Someone runs into me. A shorter brunette girl with light blue eyes capturing a horrified look.

           “I am so sorry!” She cries out.

           “Oh, no it’s alright, you’re okay!” I blurt out, trying to reassure that it’s really no problem. She doesn’t seem to make a move, either frozen in fear, or something else. The pedestrians, however, continue moving like a stream around a stone.

           “I’m quite new to the city so I’ve sort of gotten lost again...” She explains needlessly. Her cheeks are kissed with freckles, and her hair is straight, held behind her ears. Whether it’s a gentle breeze or the motion of people, her hair sways back and forth. She glances down and purses her lips in an awkward manner. That’s when I notice I have not even answered her.

           “Where were you heading?” I inquire, maybe hoping to lead her to where she needs to go. I guess that with her height in general, it would be hard to navigate the taller crowds.

           “Ah, no where I guess, I just came from a café down the road because...” she trials off, seeming bothered by the topic. She glances up and sees my questioning gaze.

           “I believe I was stood up,” she then admits quietly, as if to herself only. I let my shoulders fall in pity.

           “Oh, I’m sorry.” I offer my apology.

           “No need, It’s okay!” She pipes up. She genuinely does look like it doesn’t bother her…I let her off the hook. She takes a glance around and signals with a tilt of her head that we should start walking so I follow her. 

           The sunlight reveals glinting colors in her hair, the translucency of her eyes, and the pure interest she has in everything. I follow her as she trails off to watch the pigeons, stops to window shop and gently pull her closer when she’s nearing the busy road, feeling the warmth of her near me. She allows me to guide her closer to me. I notice how gently she moves her arms in a way that brush her hand against mine for merely a moment. Now that she is lively and not frightened, she dances with the wind, allowing it to sway her with the leaves that fly under our feet.

           “What is something you can show me here? I want to just explore! Soar, and make my life into so much more,” she rhymes. She looks at me with such adventurous wishes, I want to just run through all the wonders of the world with her. She offers her hand as though I can lead her away in this instance. I take her hand, feeling my fingers warm up with hers.

           “Are you a writer?” I question, smiling with interest. “That seemed very poetic and dreamy of you.”

           “Well, are you one? You know the saying, ‘takes one to know one!’” She answers back, her eyes distracted once more by a cinnamon mini donut stand. I swear we’ve passed 10 just in a few blocks.

           “Well, I think, therefore I am,” I quote Descartes, hoping to come off as witty. I feel that I am rewarded when she smiles back at me.

           “’I doubt, therefore I think, and I think, therefore, I am.’ That’s the full quote though many people do not tend to know the actual-.”

She goes on but that is the moment my mind wanders back to the paper in my pocket. The café sketch, the writing...

           “Hey?” She gets my attention, looking up at me. In our walk, I have slowed down.

           “Is everything alright? I am so sorry if I bored you just then.” She apologizes, worried.

           “No, everything is okay, you just reminded me of something.” I reassure her, guiding her to keep walking until we meet the group paused at a crosswalk. I press my free hand into my pocket and feel the rigid texture of the paper on my fingers.

           “Are you going to keep it a secret?” She teases hesitantly, unsure of how to approach my faraway look. Do I keep it a secret? This is the place I picked it up… maybe it is a good thing to show someone else.

           “Okay, I have something I want to show you. There’s a café nearby that I will take us to show you this. I think you’ll be interested in it.” I tell her, thrill filling me again. I wonder what she will think of the drawing, perhaps she will say that it is impressive or maybe she will interpret the drawing as something else I have not thought of. As I guide her towards the café, I notice a slow in steps. Without questioning, we continue.

           Reaching the front of the café, I feel her hand gently fall out of mine. Entering the café, she clears her throat and when we sit down at the corner table by the windows, she fidgets. One of the baristas comes over and starts chatting me up, saying he’s surprised to see me more relaxed on my off day. I then order myself a mocha and she orders a hot chocolate.

           “What is it that you wanted to show me?” She questions, speaking quietly. I assume that it is due to the café’s atmosphere. I take out the piece of paper, flattening in down before showing her.

           “Isn’t this cool! I found this writing when the wind placed it under my foot at the crosswalk.” I exclaim. My mood switches when I notice the look in her eyes, the same terror I saw when I first saw her. She blinks, examining it, then reaches for it suddenly. Before she grabs it, I move it out of her reach, unsure of why she is reacting this way.

           “What’s going on?” I ask her, protectively holding the paper near my heart. Her breathing picks up like she is panicking, and I contemplate giving the paper over as I never wanted to hurt her. She just shakes her head and rests her elbows on the table. Instead of an answer though, she starts mindlessly talking as if to herself.

           “Drop a needle in a haystack and you’ll never see it again. Drop a paper in a grand city and of course it is sat right in front of you. Damn this place.” She curses, resting her forehead into her open palms. It is my time to feel my heart freeze. She confirmed my subconscious suspicions and I do not know how I feel about it. How is it possible that by chance the writer of the very ink that intrigued me bumps into me and guides me by the same interest? A crowd of thousands… all with different objectives, destinations and journeys.

           “So, you wrote this then.” I say as a matter of fact. She raises her head, putting her arms down. In a gentle movement, she nods her head looking at me. I break the eye contact to look at the ink that once was so mysterious to me, a story unguided. Now I stare at the ink, every word. I read it aloud:

“I doubt, therefore I think, I think, therefore I am. Am I delicate enough to shatter into a thousand pieces as I just now have experienced? Am I loved enough to feel warmth across my heart, skin, and bones? Am I strong enough to let her go? I doubt it. I doubt, therefore I think, I think, therefore I am.”

           I then decide to drop the question that’s been quivering on the tip of my tongue since we’ve gotten here.

           “Why are you really here?” I ask. She looks at me, taken back.

           “What do you mean by that?”

           “You told me about the café this morning, you told me about how you’ve been left abandoned. But you then lead me right back to where you started.”

           “I had no idea where I was, what are you accusing me of?” She says with a small laugh. Disbelief?

           “You dance, you sway, and yet along the roads, you have always gazed at the street names. You have turned the way you wanted to after looking both ways. You had a reason to go the way you went to come to me, and now I am wondering why you decided to run back?” The further I press my evidence, that further I come into terms with the discovery myself. However, I keep in mind that since with the possibility of uncertainty, I should just throw it away as a bad apple and let her explain. But I do not.

           “In this writing, you speak of something equivalent to heartbreak. You wonder if you can be loved. You wonder if you can move on. You then crash into me. You decide to trust me and lead me on, trailing me back to the café in your story. A story where you are not left alone and rather have someone that dances with you, guides you from the roads and allows you to feel the warmth of their hand, the sound of laughter.” I start choking up, beating myself up for being so naïve, so oblivious and trusting. She is silent, I take that as no attempt to deny me.

           “You moved me back to the café... why?” I look out at the moving baristas, the many stories within this very small seating area. I hold the paper, turning it over to compare the sketch to the real thing. This very window seat, reserved for early writers. She clears her throat and I return my focus to her as well as the pain-stained paper.

           “As I walked away from the café, I thought endlessly about whether she would still show up and not be able to find me there. I thought about how she bought me a subway ticket to meet her, and that she was just running late. I wrote the stupid note to vent, but for God’s sake, if I had just remembered vents go into other rooms, I wouldn’t have written it. Imagine what she will think if she sees me with another girl.” She hisses between her teeth. She is mad at herself.

           “The hours, or however long it has been, you spent with me,” I find myself trailing off, mostly in disbelief and betrayal, “and yet you have been hoping for someone else? There is no way you did not know what you were doing! You lead me on…” I quiet down when I see my voice is no longer being heard. Her eyes caught something, someone, in the distance, across the road. With sore eyes, I watch as she puts cash on our table and hastily makes her way out the door. With the note left in her place. She runs across the road to the figure that moves in place impatiently. In the safe hands of the sidewalk, they collide, wrapping each other in their warmth and obvious love. The wind whistles and dances as their ensemble. I pose an apology to Rene Descartes. For he was right to doubt everything; as I have been deceived.

I doubt, therefore I think, I think, therefore I am. Am I delicate enough to shatter into a thousand pieces as I just now have experienced? Am I loved enough to feel warmth across my heart, skin, and bones? Am I strong enough to let her go? I doubt it.

I leave the note there for curious eyes. I leave the café.

March 02, 2024 06:48

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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