He woke up to his alarm at 8 am. He laid in bed slowly allowing the sun to creep up over his windowsill. Mustering the will to get out of bed, he jumped up and began to get dressed. Now usually, he would make himself a small breakfast and coffee, but there was something in the air that made him want an adventure. So, he put on his jacket and marched down the street. He was hungry though. He stopped at the local cafe. He knew the place well, every Sunday morning he would stop in. He knew the staff and they knew him. But this was a Friday, he had never come in on a Friday before. Really it was his first Friday off in six months.
He walked into the cafe and went straight up to the counter. He ordered his usual, medium black coffee, with a plain bagel, cream cheese, not toasted. He sat in his usual spot and inhaled the fresh aroma of coffee. He sighed, this was nice he thought to himself. He looked up at the table across from him and there she was.
He had never seen her before. She had long dark brown hair and equally dark brown eyes. She was staring at her laptop with a look of discouragement on her face. He wondered what she was looking at, what she was thinking of, who she was.
He quietly sat eating his bagel, willing himself the courage to speak to her. Nothing. He had nothing. No courage, not a single drop. He looked up at her again. She was beautiful.
He got up from the table, throw his garbage away and walked towards the door. He paused with his hand on the door. Would he do it? Could he be that bold?
“Babe?” He asked.
“Yes.” She responded.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
He pulled her close in his arms and kissed her forehead. She sunk into his chest and sighed. That’s where she slept every night. Their bodies fit perfectly. They were meant to be. That he knew without a shadow of a doubt.
She fell asleep almost instantly, just like she always did. He loved watching her sleep. She was so beautiful, so calm and peaceful. He thought back to that Friday morning 2 years ago, when he finally had the courage to talk to her. Best thing he’d ever done.
“Hey.” He said. She looked up confused.
“Hey?” She replied.
“Sorry I just saw you sitting there. I come here every Sunday morning and I’ve never seen you here before. I just thought I’d introduce myself.”
“Oh. Yea, it’s actually my first time here. I just moved into the neighbourhood and needed to get some work done since I still don’t have internet.”
“That makes sense. Whatcha working on?” He asked.
“A book, actually. I’m an author. Well, an inspiring one. I want to be an author.” She smiled as she talked. His heart was beating faster than he ever thought it could.
“That’s amazing. I would read it.” He smiled
“Haha. Well, maybe one day you will.”
“I would love that.”
He was nervous, the sweating pooling in his hands. The ring was burning a hole in his pocket. He had spent the last 2 months planning and organizing. It was hard. She hated surprises, and she could read him like a book. Plus, she was the planning mastermind. She could pull together a party in a matter of hours. So, he knew this had to be perfect.
He took his time, planning every detail carefully. He knew her heart, what made her uncontrollably happy and how to make her feel like she was the only girl in the world. She was the only girl for him. His dream girl. He had spent his youth praying to God for a girl just like her. And he had got her. His dream come true.
“Do you want to sit down?” She asked.
“Yea, that would be nice.” He smiled.
“So what do you do?”
“I work at a media company. Doing videos and graphic designs.”
“Oh cool. Do you like it?” She rested her elbow on the table and leaned in.
“Yeah, sometimes. I want to make my own movies though. Not work for someone else, but for me.” He sighed.
“Yea, I understand that. It’s hard to have so much of your life relying on someone else.”
“Yeah. I just want to do what I’m good at, without someone telling me how to do it.”
“Yeah, exactly. You get me.” She laughed as she talked.
“So, what the story?” He gestured towards her laptop.
“Ugh, how much time do you have?”
She laughed. He liked her laugh. It was calming in some weird way.
He was nervous again. There he was standing at the end of the alter. Waiting. Waiting for his love to walk down the aisle. He looked to his left, his best man standing beside him. The music started. He looked down the long aisle. Slowly he watched the bridesmaids walk down the aisle. His heart was pounding. The music changed. It was her song. The one she had wanted to walk down the aisle too since she was a little girl. Everything was slow. The church doors opened. It felt like it took a million years for them to open. Then time stopped. She was there. She looked beautiful. He couldn’t keep his eyes off her, he wiped the tears streaming down his face. She was staring right at him, smiling. He loved her smile.
“Hey, babe.” She whispered in his ear as she grabbed his hand.
“You are absolutely stunning love.” He kissed her forehead.
“I was actually about to go for a walk. Get some fresh air, you know to get the creative juices flowing. Did you want to come with me?” She stood up, flipping her hair in the process.
“Yeah of course. If that’s ok with you?”
“Yeah, I’d love that.”
He opened the door and held it open for her. She smiled as she passed him.
“You know what?” She asked.
“I think this is going to be the start of something great.”
“Oh, yeah? Why’s that?”
“Because I like you, and I think you’re cute.” She smiled and looked shyly over her shoulder.
“Good, I like you too.”
She slammed the bedroom door shut. He sat there on the couch with his face in his hands. She made him feel so angry. Why did she always do that? Always start fights for no reason. She wasn’t even being fair. He had tried so hard to make her happy, but still, he felt like he wasn’t enough.
The tears were streaming down his face. How was he supposed to look at her knowing he had disappointed her? He knew he had stopped trying. He was just stressed from work and his start-up film. He was busy. All the time. He didn’t have the energy to eat anymore, let alone be in a marriage.
He got up off the couch and walked towards their bedroom. He paused in front of the door. His hand on the doorknob and his forehead pressed against the door. He slowly opened the door. There she was, lying in bed. He could see her body rising and falling with her sobs. He hated seeing her like this. He hated even more that he had done this to her.
He walked towards the bed and climbed in beside her. He pulled her close in his arms just like he did every night. He buried his head in her hair. It smelled like her favourite shampoo. Coconut. He breathed in heavy.
“Babe?” She asked quietly. Her voice trembling as she continued crying.
“Do you still love me?”
“Of course I do babe. I’ve never stopped.”
“Then what is happening to us?”
“I don’t know babe. I don’t know. But I know I love you, and I know I can’t live without you. You are my dream and I just got lost for a bit. I’m sorry about that love. I’m going to get better and stop putting you last. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I can’t imagine life without you.”
He had a hard time speaking, his voice stumbling over his words. His heart was beating. He could feel her body sobbing as he spoke. He hated what he had done. He needed to fix it.
They walked down the street. The sound of the cars driving by filled the silence.
“I love walks.” He said.
“Really? Meh, I feel like you have to be in a certain kind of mood to go on a walk, or else it’s just boring.” She replied.
“What?! Boring? Never. It’s so relaxing. You get to walk, look around you, think. It’s the best.”
“Yeah, I mean if you use walking as a time to think than walking makes sense. But if you don’t it’s just boring.”
“That’s fair. When do you think?”
“Hmm … all the time I guess. But I guess the best time is when I’m writing. I usually just write what I’m thinking and that helps.”
“See each person is allowed their own way of processing and thinking. Mine is walking, yours is writing.”
“Yes. But mine’s better.” She smiled and gently hit his arm.
There were cameras flashing everywhere. He had made it. The red carpet, opening premier of his movie. He was barely able to contain his excitement. He looked at the sea of photographers and reporters. He was sitting in the car looking at it all. Terrified.
“Babe? You ok?” He snapped out of it at the sound of her voice.
He turned. There sitting beside him was his wife. His very very very pregnant wife. She had a look of concern on her face, her hand placed gently on his thigh.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just nervous. How do you do it?” He responded. He grabbed her hand and squeezed it.
“The pictures. When your book came out and you went on those tours, how did you deal with it all? How did you not throw up from the nerves.”
“I thought of you. Without you, I probably never would have finished my book. That day in the café I wasn’t even writing. I was staring at my screen deleting my book. But after that walk, I went home and I wrote. I wrote and wrote and you became my story babe. But this baby, you did this. You made this. I am so incredibly proud of you and all you’ve done. You are a dream baby. Don’t be nervous. Let’s go celebrate you.”
And with a kiss, they got out of the car.
“So are you going to tell me?” He asked.
“Tell you what?” Her brows ferried as she spoke.
“What your book it about.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I might as well. It’s about a girl who doesn’t really know who she is but is trying to figure it out. You know, going through life wondering what she’s supposed to do or be. Navigating relationships and whatnot. The very stereotypical book to be completely honest.”
“No. It sounds good. Who’s your muse?”
“Haha. Myself, I guess. It’s more like an autobiography without anyone knowing it’s an autobiography.” She shrugged her shoulders as she spoke.
“Well, I think that’s the best type of story. You’ll reach so many more people telling your story. People love real, love authentic. Be vulnerable with it, kid.”
She looked up at him and squished her nose. Adorable.
“Where have you been all my life? I’ve been needing you for a long time now.”
He smiled, a smile he felt down in his heart. Like he was feeling alive for the first time in a very long time.
It was quiet. She was lying in the bed sleeping. She deserved some well-needed sleep. In the small basinet was his daughter. She stirred. He picked her up before his wife could wake up. He paced the room. It was just her and him.
She didn’t cry. She stared straight up at him. She had her mothers’ big brown eyes. She had his dark complexion and black curly hair. She had long fingers and big pouty lips.
“I love you baby girl. You are my biggest achievement. I’m going to spend the rest of my life taking care of you. You can always come to me with your problems, with whatever’s on your mind. I’m your daddy for the rest of your life. You’re always going to be loved, always going to be held, always going to be my baby girl. I’m going to spoil you so much, kid.” He had tears falling down his cheeks. This was his baby. This was his love.
“Not too spoiled.” His wife said quietly. He looked up and there she was looking at them. She was crying, happy tears.
“Well, now I don’t know about that babe. She’s pretty special.” He walked towards her bed. Passing their daughter to her, he sat down in bed beside his wife. He wrapped his arms around them.
“Hey, baby girl. Were you talking with daddy? We love you so much, baby. You are so beautiful.” She said as her daughter wrapped her tiny hand around her finger.
“You two are my world. Nothing else is or will ever be as important to me as you two. I love you guys so much.” He kissed his wife’s forehead.
“We love you too babe.” She rested her head on his chest.
He stood there with his hand on the door of the café. He could see it. His life in front of him. He could do it. He could just turn around and say hi.
He stood there for what seemed like forever, willing himself the courage to turn. Willing himself the boldness he knew he didn’t have.
Do it, he thought to himself, just do it.
“Umm excuse me?” He turned around and there she was. “I’m just trying to get by.”
“Oh, yea sorry my bad.” He moved out of the way, and she walked past. Out the door. Down the street, with her hair swaying in the distance.
And that was it.