Jamming a hat over untamed curls in a late attempt to maintain some semblance of warmth, she moved through the crowded street to finally enter an old wooden door into a place her boots used to frequent all too often.
She was greeted with a steaming cup of coffee, no frills just black. She held the cup up in thanks with a small smile to the old waitress and slid into her favorite booth. Glancing out the already fogged window, her thoughts flitted to how this place had felt like home not so long ago.
Uncapping a thin marker, and settling back into the booth, she planted herself firmly in that moment and began to write.
Dear … Well hello I guess,
I ended up here after all. The corner booth’s still cracked, and I bet the scuffs won’t ever come off the wall from these old boots. Not that you were wondering.
Pausing with the marker mid air, she decided to keep writing.
I needed to sit in the place where we always traced ourselves back to the start. And sure enough, between the smells drifting past and the warmth of the coffee between my fingers it’s as if I’m pulled right back into the deep of us.
Back to when coffee wasn’t just some morning drink made for all of us sleep deprived ones. It was you. And it was me. Sitting all wrapped up in words and dreams about all of the tomorrows we thought were already on their way.
If life has been good, you’ll have had no reason to open this letter from a girl whose name never falls from your lips. But I had to ask. Where did you go? No, I know your address for that new place five hundred miles away from here and me. But really, where did you go? The night the light disappeared from those eyes made of all the fractals of the bluest ice. I always swore they could go right through me.
I mean I’m good now. You know that right? Surely someone told you. But I’ve still gotta know. It’s the question etched into all my sleepless nights. Out of all our nights tucked away in this old black booth with coffees filled to the brim and hearts bleeding, why that night?
I saw you, you know. I was already here. Two coffees and a brownie, just waiting. I saw you walk up to the door hands shoved deep into dark pockets, and then a slight pause as your fingers hovered over the brassy knob. In that moment, the light turned black and your footsteps fell away.
I sat completely still, hoping you just forgot something, but I already knew. The deep sinking feeling moving from my throat down into my gut said what my mind couldn’t yet spell out. You were gone.
No amount of tears or carefully crafted win you back kind of words could fix this. There was a permanence in the air my heart didn’t want to breathe.
The coffee shop noise morphed into a dull buzz of wordless voices and I felt all my limbs grow hot as I fumbled in shock. It was my fault, all of it. I heard every insecurity resound with a chorus of you’re too much child, don’t you know you’ll always be too much? And start over? Girl, you couldn’t get it right this time, what makes you think next will be any different? Without any response to my own self, I numbly made my feet shuffle up and out the door. That was months ago.
But today, I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee in peace and I honestly hope to find you well. I hope whatever stole the glaringly beautiful ice from your eyes and turned them to shadows brought you where you were meant to be. That maybe you aren’t still running. We both know that’s what you did.
When you took off, I stayed still. I sat and listened to the sound of my own self shattering only to watch roots grow deep as the fragments fell underground and came up to life. And let me tell you, it’s pretty damn spectacular what grew up out of this.
No one could have known something that started so beautiful, even if it was just beautiful lies, could end so swiftly. Wordlessly even. The remnants of what was scattered throughout my life. Tell me, did you find them in yours too? Perhaps not, you always could remove yourself so easily from all the entanglements of people. Still, I can’t help but hope one day you find a love you can’t so easily slip away from. That shocks you out of the lie, which says you’re better off alone.
That one day you’ll look up to find yourself spending all your Sundays reading books across from her like this is all you’ve ever known.
If you find this, it means you’re here. I don’t know why your worn out soles carried you back, but stay awhile. After all, we both know how good this coffee is. Me? Well, this is my last time sitting here in this old booth. Tomorrow I’m gone and I just stopped to say goodbye.
Wherever you went, I hope you found yourself there.
Folding the pages up and into the envelope, she shoved the letter deep into the crack of the old booth knowing if he ever came he’d find it. Swallowing the last dregs of her coffee, she stood and slapped down a five dollar bill. Glancing around, she grinned beneath her curls, she was finally clean.