Hallie's Comet

By Eleine Kruez

Café Lune's dim lights and soothing atmosphere was a welcome change from the harsh glare of the sun and noisy, crowded street. Ears already filling with the low, flowing instrumental music in the background, I made my way toward my favorite table tucked at the corner.

Being just a street corner from the university's main gate, Café Lune was a natural choice to the students coming out after a hectic day of learning. With its dark interior with dim lights and classical music, it was the perfect place to relax after being subjected to instructive torture. Practically everyone I know goes here.

And usually, I tend to steer clear of places that easily fall under the category of Teenage Haven, especially the really popular ones (like this one), but Café Lune is an exception. One could really feel comfortable here. Aside from the low coffee tables and sofas scattered about for a cozy feel that could easily give you the illusion of being at your own den on the second floor, the first floor was filled with tables and upholstered chairs inviting for more than a few hours' sitting. The interior was painted dark blue and lights generally came from individual lamps at the center of each table. There were tiny flecks of light from above and on the walls like stars, even forming constellations.

And best of all, I love Café Lune because, not only do I get to relax and meet my daily caffeine-quota, I also get to see the Love of My Life if I rush to this very table right after class and wait for him to show up.

Usually the place is packed with students in dire need of a coffee-fix right after class and people, who like me, like the place and hangs out there most of the time, that it would've been near impossible to snag a table. But since I already mentioned something about rushing right after class, it's not a problem for me.

Precisely at three-fifteen, the double door with crescent moons on both side opened and the first flood of students came in. The relative somberness was replaced with much chatter and laughter from the newcomers. I paid them no heed, and instead took out my charcoal pencil with a Bad Badtztm sticker from my bag followed by my sketchbook.

After a few minutes, the second wave of patrons came in, and I had no doubt the second floor was already more than half-filled. This, like the first, was my signal. I opened the battered sketchbook and took a delicate sip of my tepid coffee.

Any minute now.

Since the second I saw him and slowly formed a deep—and possibly lasting—attachment to him five months, nine days and six hours ago, I've been religiously waiting at this table (and if not the very table, somewhere nearby, no doubt) at exactly three-twenty in the afternoon every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I had just finished a grueling exam on Economics and had wanted to drown my past misery shared with ten other unfortunate creatures for over two long, godforsaken hours and had then decided to deposit my person on one of the many comfortable chairs on the first floor.

After half an hour of caffeine-laden liquids and sweets, I was feeling halfway human again, though it was doubtful I would ever hear the word microeconomics without getting into histrionics. I was content watching people with only half a mind. However, something inexplicable compelled me to look up the same instant he took a seat three tables across mine, facing the door.

From where I was, I could see every detail of his profile. He was all stick and angles, but there was something in his features that rounded and smoothened the ragged edges. From the thick charcoal hair he sported then, the straight, almost hawkish nose to the thin, smiling lips, something lured me to continue studying him.

I continued to watch him, fascinated by the things I discover with only a tilt of his head, a twitch of his lips. Another half hour had gone by with my coffee untouched and him, waiting, it seemed, his own drink growing cold.

He wasn't that good-looking, but his height, six-four, lent him an edge, and his light mocha skin was a refreshing change from the bloodless, flawless specimen of maleness I am surrounded with.

It would be stupid to call it love, and I know how shallow it sounds, to think one in love with mere looks. But as I started waiting for him in the afternoons, the person I glimpsed of was slowly revealed.

I turned into a stalker, finding all I could about him, asking people questions about him, finding ways to be introduced to him. I finally struck gold with a friend of my friend who was a friend of his friend. Confused? As I was, but I am nothing if not patient and determined.

Though the soles of my feet were practically burning a path from the assigned room for my classes toward the girl's restroom two doors past theirs, I persevered. Though I looked psychotic and creepy to those who knew facts, no matter how little or insignificant, about him, I asked them relentlessly for each and every detail they could contribute to the mental painting I was creating for him.

He has a great sense of humor (says about ten gazillion people, so I think it's safe to credit this), he actually studies (though he doesn't actually look like it), he has had a crush on someone for a long time (four years, I think, and I still haven't found out if his feelings for her still exist) and his friends always goes to Café Lune after class.

Hence the vigil.

Usually Claire keeps me company, but she's got P.E. on Friday so I was going solo. Not that I mind, since it actually means I can sketch him today. The fact I do is somewhat a secret; one I didn't feel ready to share to the world yet, not even to my best friend.

The door opened and I knew, without looking up, that it was him. Maybe it's my imagination, or maybe I've drunk too much caffeine to last me a lifetime, but the air suddenly seemed to surge.

With feigned nonchalance I tucked the already tucked hair behind my ear and looked up from the blank expanse of white and gazed at him. Maybe it was the caffeine again, but I could swear my heart skipped a beat, then super accelerated.

His newly cropped hair was hidden beneath his signature white cap and he was halfway turned toward me, talking to one of his buddies.

Another snapshot stored in my mental album, I thought to myself. I was being idiotic about the whole thing, I knew. I should gather my courage and say hi to him at least, since we did know each other, but I just couldn't.

I'm a coward.

For someone who was so adamant in standing up for her rights and belief, for someone who would have no qualms of confronting and bitch-slapping someone who unjustly wronged her in the middle of a crowded grandstand, I couldn't come out of the safe cocoon I've enclosed myself in to say hi to Kristoff.

No matter the progress I've made from becoming a nobody to becoming someone to him, I still remained glued to my chair, ignoring the suggestion in my head, urging me to be bold and tell him.

I couldn't.

I've been rejected before, and it was miserable feeling. I had been wretched and demented. It was a cycle where I demanded to know why the world was so unfair that the boy I liked didn't feel the same way then depressing over the fact he didn't then trying to philosophize love, only to end up growling in an almost unstable manner then starting over again. After the cycle, I was back to normal. Rejection is part of life, I know that, despite the incoherent ramblings after each and every Failed Love Match. Confessing and being rejected wouldn't be a new thing. But with Kristoff…

I don't think I can bear his rejection.

I think I would go numb. Having invested this much sentiment on him, I may go bankrupt if he rejected me. That's why I'm afraid. It's never been like this. It's unfair of me to put him on a pedestal the way I did, glossing over his flaws and refusing to see them, but I know they existed. I am aware they do, but from what I see and the things I know about him, despite his flaws, to me, he is still a My Precious Person. It's corny and pathetic, but I don't care.

I continued to watch him, enthralled. He was the only one I could see. The people with him, no matter how beautiful or graceful, faded in the background.

I've seen him with different people in many occasions. He's pretty popular. Illustrious personas, like stars, would glimmer then fade next to him, and I can do nothing but watch, completely enchanted.

I long to join them, but I knew it was near impossible. In the vast galaxy illuminated by millions of stars in different shape, color and form, he was like a comet. Flashing. Beautiful. Entrancing to the beholder watching the sky.

I am the planet, utterly spellbound, yet trapped in its orbit, following the comet's seemingly reckless course with my eyes, living for the next second it would pass, waiting, even after thousands of years for that anticipated coming, hoping to have the comet graze my dreary and fixed circling in passing.

The pencil in my hand stilled and I looked up, feeling someone's eyes on me.

A meteor. The comet brushed against the fringes of the solitary planet's quiet orbit.

Chocolate-brown eyes met mine across the room and stared back unblinkingly, not sure whether it was coffee-high, imagination, or reality.

At the back of my mind, it registered that his friends were finished with their purchases and were preparing to leave, but at the very second, all I could do without my brain going haywire was remember to breathe.

His friends already moving toward the door, Kristoff broke eye contact and tilted his head, mouthing my name with a smile. Then he left.

My name. My name had been on his lips only seconds before. The pencil remained where it was: frozen in my hand a hairsbreadth from the page Kristoff's face was starting to take shape. All of a sudden I couldn't keep the huge grin from spreading across my face.