Every day is the same. But I don’t care. Every time I look at her, it feels like time stops. The way her dark hair flows down past her shoulders and curls ever so slightly at the end. The way she smiles, making her brown eyes light up. Her eyes smile before her lips do.
She is my muse; she is my everything. Whenever she says my name, my heart skips a beat. Whenever my fingers brush against hers, it feels like electricity. I see her every day, and yet, that’s still not enough. I only want to live where she exists.
Something about her just makes me believe we were meant to be together. I don’t believe in fate, but for her, I can’t explain it any other way. From the moment our eyes locked, I knew we were soulmates...
“What’s your name?” she asked, her brown eyes gazing into mine. I knew it was her job, but something about the way she said it made me think there was something more.
“Ashley,” I told her, my heart beating rapidly in my chest.
“What’ll you have, Ashley?” She brushed her long dark hair behind her ear and smiled slightly.
“What do you recommend?” I asked.
“I usually get the iced tea with lemon,” she replied, and I nodded.
“I’ll take that, then.” I smiled, and she smiled back. Was I the only one feeling this?
“That’ll be $3,” she said. “I’ll be right back with your drink.” She turned around to the row of coffeemakers and other contraptions before starting to make the tea.
I pulled the money out of my wallet, putting it on the counter as I watched her. Her arms were sprinkled with a myriad of tattoos, and I found myself staring at them, trying to identify each one. I only got to the flock of birds before she turned back around and handed me my tea.
“Here you go.” She took my money and handed me my receipt. I made sure to place a few dollars in the tip jar. “Thanks,” she said, meeting my eyes again. “I’m Devonne, by the way,” she added.
“Nice to meet you,” I said. And it really was.
I think about that day often. It was one of those days that just felt right. Something in the universe had clicked to make it all happen.
I walk toward her café like I do every morning. I like to go right when it opens so that I can have more quality time with Devonne. I look forward to this moment every day. It’s the light in my otherwise grey life.
This morning, I’m a bit early. I see her opening up the café. I raise my hand to wave, but that’s when I see the man standing beside her. This is something new. This isn’t part of the plan; this isn’t part of my day. I can hear them talking, but they haven’t seen me yet.
“You don’t find it creepy?” the man asks. Something about his voice makes me feel a cold chill. I can feel something coming, but I don’t know what it is.
“I really don’t,” Devonne replies with a shrug. The man seems significantly more agitated than she does. She seems calm. “Can you please leave?” There’s a hint of desperation in her voice.
“I don’t like the idea of this person...being around you,” he says. That’s when he sees me. It seems like a million emotions pass over his face in a second. Something about the way he’s looking at me makes me pause and stop walking. “Is that...?”
Devonne looks toward me, and her beautiful face pales slightly. “N-no,” she lies, but he can tell.
“Hey!” the man suddenly yells, and I flinch.
“Stop,” Devonne says, touching his arm.
“Devonne—” he starts, and she grips his arm.
“I said stop.”
“What’s going on?” I finally manage to ask. I don’t understand what’s happening. I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, the breeze tickling my skin, teasing me with the threat of the fall.
“You’re stalking my sister—that’s what’s going on,” the man responds, his face flushed in anger.
“Tom, I said stop,” Devonne says, gripping his arm even tighter. He looks to her, and she seems to plead with him with her eyes. He yanks his arm out her grasp and looks to me again.
“What do you want with my sister?”
“Tom—” Devonne starts, but he raises a hand, shutting her up.
“I just...” I don’t know how to answer. I wasn’t expecting this sort of confrontation. “I just...like her,” I reply sheepishly.
“My sister isn’t gay,” the man snaps angrily, emphasizing the last word with rage as if it somehow wronged him in a past life. Devonne hits his arm to make him look to her.
“I need you to leave,” she says. While her demeanor has always been calm, something about her voice tells me that she is incredibly mad. “Right now.” Her brown eyes almost seem to glow.
He starts to say something, but she leans in close, whispering something in his ear. His expression changes immediately; whatever she said, it did the trick.
“Fine,” he finally says. “Stay away from her,” he warns me, but he turns around and leaves. I have no idea what she could have said to make him step back like that, but I’m not going to question it.
I feel like I can finally breathe again, and clearly, so does Devonne. She quickly unlocks the door to the café and motions for me to come in. I follow her, and she locks the door behind us, keeping the sign on “closed”. She meets my gaze, and to my surprise, throws her arms around me. I freeze, unable to react properly as I’m overwhelmed by the sweet smell of her perfume.
“I’m so sorry. This is all my fault,” she whispers.
“What do you mean?” I finally ask, putting my arms around her, too. My heart is beating so fast I’m scared she can hear it.
“He overheard me talking on the phone,” she says, pulling away enough to look at my face. “Talking about you.” Her face softens. “My family doesn’t know about me.” She looks down before meeting my eyes again. “I didn’t think he was home. But he was. And he heard me tell my friend about a girl who comes to my café every day. He heard me say how I...felt.” She looks away again, her cheeks flushing slightly.
My heart beats faster. She did feel it too. Suddenly, I feel really glad today didn’t start out the way I had planned it to.
“He didn’t understand,” she says after a few moments. Her brown eyes are glimmering as if she’s about to cry.
“It’s okay,” I assure her, and she smiles slightly.
She puts a hand on my face and looks into my eyes. This is the closest we’ve ever been.
“Don’t be.” I smile slightly. Her brown eyes are so beautiful. I had only dreamed of gazing into them like this.
She smiles and falls silent for a moment before asking, “Were you ever going to say something? Like, to me?”
“Honestly, I don’t think so.”
“It’s scary,” I reply. The truth was that I had created such a beautiful picture of what could be that I didn’t want it to be broken.
She smiles slightly, as if she understands. She probably felt the same way. Scared. Unsure of herself.
“It doesn’t have to be scary anymore.”
I feel my heart flutter. The beautiful picture I’d created was broken. But somehow, this is even more beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined.