I met her there when she was almost young. Turning a small corridor into what was then so unknown. Walls lined with literature, books upon books, with only breaks where they were kept separate by empty space. Much like the space that separates us here. I had never seen someone so pretty and so plain and so perfect. I stumbled over my own inability to move, and so I kept moving just close enough to say “hello.” She was sipping coffee, busy with nothing in particular, almost dismissive of my arrival entirely, as if she knew already the importance of our time. The way it surely has a way of throwing it all in our face, the way the future was just as haunted as the memories we traced.
I could swear that I loved her then in that moment. Couldn’t quite recall where I had known her from before, but I was sure and I was so unsure of it. Thinking back she always did have a quiet way of keeping me waiting, anticipating up until I thought there was no hope left to hold. She hired me to help around the shop. After a series of questions it was resolved that I would be best fit for the job. I don’t suppose you are supposed to feel so tingly at the thought of someone so new. She was only a boss, a supervisor at best and more human than I could ever imagine.
We worked well together and communicated in an almost telepathic way. Her hands tied behind tradition, my mouth watering with affections.
Weeks went by, months now too and I only grew more weak with wonder. Was I looking into some sort of parallel or mirror? When would I tell her that I knew?
This small cafe was busy at times, and as blank as it was bleak in other moments. We sold more sandwiches than books by far but reading was her passion. The coffee kept us going and the structure kept us at arms length. We made small talk, plain talk and went on about our business, she stayed so busy with nothing in particular.
It was Thanksgiving time when we were all granted a short break from the monotony. We messaged back and forth about small things, I would use any excuse possible to correspond. I had to tell her now that the sound of her name was enough to light me up or leave me aching for days. I was worried sick at how this would all go over, the thought of becoming so vulnerable was enough to make me cringe and I was crawling in my skin.
I must have been so easy to read, the way she looked right through me but still she thought that I was only joking. She thought that maybe my admirations would pass, and I crossed my fingers she would be right.
When it came time for me to leave it would need to be for good, this was a cold hard goodbye. Not nearly as simple as the timid little hello that sent me searching for answers faster than I could say to myself I am sorry for troubling you with feeling.
It took everything in me and then some to admit that I knew back then I loved her. That I wasn’t going to be able to stop this ship from sinking, that if fortune did indeed favor the bold we might someday end up as one- swimming through the depths of delicate do nots.
I don’t wish now that I had never known her or told her my truth, I only wish that this quiet courage could have amounted to something more than a silly mistake in the matrix, a mishap or mix up in time.