Let's Stay Like This Forever
I waited in my car, not willing to brave the cold just yet. Brand New played through the speakers above the steady hum of the heater while snowflakes landed and dissolved immediately on the windshield. The sun had just set on the horizon and what was left of the day’s light stretched along the ground, casting shadows. Other than a small boy and his mother walking quickly from a bookstore across the street, no one was outside.
“We’re gonna stay eighteen forever, so we can stay like this forever…”
The leafless branches of the trees lining the sidewalk were adorned in brightly colored Christmas lights that lit up the sky, still white from the heavy blanket of cloud-cover. I pulled my gloves on and fastened the buttons.
“They’re just jealous cuz’ we’re young and in love…”
I took a deep breath and braced myself for the rush of cold that met me when I opened the door. Wrapping my coat tighter, I shielded myself against the snow now falling heavily, sticking to my hair. Head down, I headed for the coffee shop. The air was crisp and smelled faintly of cigarettes.
When I reached the door, an elderly man opened it for me from the inside. He tilted his hat and winked at my thanks before heading out. He pulled a pipe from his inside coat pocket and I saw the flame from his lighter before he disappeared around the corner.
I loosened my scarf and looked around. The room glowed, lights reflecting in the windows. I ordered a drink and went to sit by the fireplace. People were scattered around the room. Some sat alone, groping the side tables for their coffees without tearing their eyes from the pages of their books. Others were in groups of two or three, talking animatedly amongst themselves. There was one family. A mother, rocking her baby boy as he slept in her arms. A father, bouncing his daughter on his leg, both of them laughing.
“And we’ll never miss a party, cuz we’ll keep them going constantly.”
The barista brought my coffee in a steaming blue mug. I thanked him and took a sip. I settled into my seat and licked the foam off my top lip.
After a few minutes I saw him coming in the front door and averted my eyes, my cheeks flushing. I glanced up at him as he waited in line, and again as he walked toward me. I looked into my mug very hard, as if there was something interesting about it.
“Blushing?” he asked, a smile in his eyes.
“It’s cold outside.” But I could feel the heat crawling up my face.
His eyes were kind, searching. Dark, almost black, but the most beautiful I have ever seen. The smell of coffee hung heavy in the air and he held my hand. His thumb made circles on my wrist and I leaned against his shoulder. We sat, sometimes in silence but constantly in contentment, watching people come and go. Occasionally he told me a story about one of the people coming in.
“That man, he’s a veterinarian. He’s from Florida, without a doubt. He looks like a Brett to me, and I’m pretty sure he’s got at least three goldfish. At least. His mom may or may not still do his laundry, but he buys his own clothes now.”
The stories went on and got more elaborate over time. I laughed too hard and he laughed at me laughing. He said my name too much just because I think he liked the sound of it. He asked me if I was happy. He asked me what I wanted my life to be like. He asked me if he could be there for it.
“We’re the coolest kids, and we’ll take what we can get.”
Hours passed and we were the last ones left, our mugs having long since been picked up. When it was time to go, he stood up and pulled me to my feet. I crinkled my nose in protest and he laughed, leading me to the door. One hand in my pocket and one hand in his, we went outside together. It was still snowing, but I didn’t care. He turned me to face him in the cold and tilted his head down to look at me from under raised brows. I leaned my forehead on his before he lifted my chin to kiss me goodnight.
Warmth spread through me.
“You’re just jealous…”
I opened my eyes and refocused on the moisture pooling on the windshield. I could feel my chest tighten painfully and sink into my stomach as I looked out the car window. The last shadows disappeared and the earth was dark except for the lights in the trees. The still steady hum of the heater ebbed it’s way back into the forefront of my mind as I fell back into reality. My hand, now and always empty of his, reached for the key in the ignition.
I turned the key and put the car in reverse.
As I drove away, my mind wandered back to that time when I was young and fell in love in a coffee shop. And how we couldn’t stay like that forever.