It was 4:00, and I was working my usual afternoon shift at a local café. I didn't necessarily have to be working—my family was more than well off and I was already a pretty responsible person. I could be doing plenty of other things instead of serving coffee and I could have quit any time I wanted. But I stayed. I stayed because of him.
He always came in everyday, at exactly 4:15. He always ordered the same thing from the same person—me. He always sat at the same table, which I've made a habit of making sure it was clear for him. He always had his music on and a book in front of him. He always finished his coffee and left at exactly 4:30.
But he never, ever noticed me. He never even looked at me. Even though I always took his order. Even though I always smiled sweetly at him when he wouldn't even see it. Even though I always took his crumpled $5 bill and gave him his change back. Even though I always noticed him.
He never looked up. His gorgeous gray eyes were always tilted downwards at his shoes or glued to the pages of his current book. His messy dark hair fell in his face and he would occasionally brush the strands to the side when it interrupted his ability to see the words.
It was 4:15 and the bell on the door jingled familiarly. I looked up, knowing what I would be seeing. He was wearing the usual—skinny jeans, a 3-rowed studded belt, a small band tee, a fitting dark hoodie, and solid black slip-on Vans. One hand was shoved in his pocket and the other held a book. Today it was The Catcher in the Rye. I smiled to myself as I remembered reading it once before.
I resumed my place behind the counter so he could take his order. He approached me across the glass pastry display. His eyes were cast downwards.
"Regular black coffee," I said quietly to myself. He obviously couldn't hear me, because his ear buds connecting to his mp3 player were on.
"Regular black coffee," he said to me softly, still looking towards his shoes. He took out his wallet from his back pocket and handed me a crumpled $5 bill. I gave him back his change.
I turned to the coffee machine and started to make his everyday order. I could probably make it with my eyes closed. When I finished I brought it over to the table near the window, where he sat at, and set it down. Every time I did this I hoped that he would reach out and take it from me, instead of having me just putting it on the table, so his fingers would brush my fingers and he would look up. But he never did.
I sighed and sat down at a table near his. I took out the latest edition of Alternative Press and flipped through the pages. I regularly glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, just to make sure he was still there. I sighed again, wishing that I knew him. Wishing that I at least knew his name. But I didn't, and I didn't know if I ever would.
It was 4:32 when I glanced at the clock. I frowned and turned back to him. He was still sitting his the chair, but his book was closed on the tabletop. His eyes were still set on the ground and his tongue was subconsciously playing with his lip ring. One hand was tugging on the hem of his hoodie and the other was raking through his soft hair.
I took a deep breath and got up, clutching my magazine in my hand. I pulled out the chair across from him and sat down. I didn't bother saying anything because I knew he wouldn't be able to hear me. I just waited and prayed for him to notice and look up at me.
And he did. His striking gray eyes met with my boring brown eyes. Suddenly I found breathing becoming something extremely difficult to do. He looked me up and down, and I shifted nervously in my regular jeans and matching slip-on Vans. He watched me for a moment longer, and then pulled out his ear buds.
"H-hey," I greeted him hesitantly.
"Hey," he replied in a wonderfully gentle voice.
"Is… Is everything going okay?" I asked him carefully.
He looked away for a minute, and then turned back to me. "Yeah. Why do you ask?"
I blushed. "You always leave at 4:30," I admitted to him that I've noticed.
His lovely pale lips pulled upwards into a small smile. "I see. Well, I better get going, then," he said as he started to get up.
"Wait," I said, surprising myself.
He stopped and looked at me expectantly.
"I don't know your name," I told him, mirroring him when I looked down at the ground.
He reached out his delicate hand and placed it under my chin. He softly pulled my face up so that I was looking him in the eyes.
"It's Aidan," he said as he shoved his hand back into his pocket.
Aidan, I thought in my head. Aidan, Aidan, Aidan, Aidan. His beautiful name that matched his own beauty repeated in my head like a metronome.
"It's okay, I already know yours," he said, motioning his hand towards my nametag on my shirt.
I smiled tenderly and nodded. "Well, I don't want to keep you waiting. I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah…" he replied. "Tomorrow."
It was 4:00, and I was anxiously waiting for the next 15 minutes to pass by. I was leaning against the counter flipping through the same Alternative Press issue as the day before. I glanced at the clock constantly, wishing that time would go faster.
It was 4:15 when I looked at the clock, but there was no well-known jingle at the door. I bit my lip worriedly.
Maybe he's late, I thought. Like he was late to leave yesterday.
It was 4:30, fifteen minutes had passed and there was still no sign of Aidan. I sighed disappointedly and continued reading my magazine.
It was 7:00, and my shift had ended. Aidan hadn't come that day. I gathered my things dejectedly and headed towards the door.
An attractive woman walked in, her eyes red looking as if she had been crying, and approached me. "Excuse me," she said soberly, "but did you know Aidan?"
I nodded, though I was confused. "Yes, he came in here everyday. Except for today. We talked for the first time yesterday."
She looked into my plain brown eyes with her own gray ones filled with pity and sympathy. Her gray eyes that looked exactly like Aidan's.
"I'm sorry dear," she apologized for a reason unknown to me. But I was soon to find out.
"Sorry?" I inquired.
She nodded grimly. "Yes. Aidan died last night."
"H-how?" I asked weakly.
"He committed s-suicide," she answered, bursting into tears.
I stood there numbly. He was gone. I had finally met him, and then he was gone. I would never see him again. I would never take his crumpled $5 bill and give him his change again. I would never look into his gray eyes again. I would never speak to him again.
"How did you know that I knew him?"
She sniffled. "He had a journal. I had to read it to see why he would do such a thing, but I didn't find anything. The only thing I found was numerous journal entries about a girl working in a local café."
"W-what did he say about me?" I stuttered nervously.
She smiled fondly at me. "I'll be reading a few of them at his funeral. Come and you'll find out."
"I went into the local café today and saw the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life. She was behind the counter looking at a music magazine because no one was ordering anything. I walked towards her, my eyes watching the floor. I didn't look up when I approached the counter. I just said, 'Regular black coffee,' and handed her a crumpled $5 bill. She handed me back my change. I hadn't looked up, but I knew she was smiling at me. I sat down at and empty table near the window and opened the book I had brought along with me. After a few minutes, she came over and set the coffee down. I wished that I would reach out and take it from her so that my fingers would brush on to hers, but I knew I never could."
"I was at the café again today. I've been going everyday for the past few weeks. I always came in at 4:15, because I knew she would be working at that time. She still looks at gorgeous as ever, and I wonder if I would ever be able to talk to her. I sit at the same table everyday, and it's always clear. The café isn't really busy at that time of day, so she sits down at a table near mine. I occasionally glance at her out of the corner of my eye, just to make sure she's still there. I get up and leave everyday at 4:30. I don't want to look suspicious."
"She was there today, as usual. I've gone there everyday for a couple of months now. Always at the same time, always ordering the same thing, always sitting at the same table. And she's always there, too. But today I didn't leave at 4:30. I set my book down and raked my hand through my hair, wondering if she would notice that I was sitting there for longer than usual. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her glance at the clock and then look at me. She got out of the chair and sat in the one across from me. I looked at her and pulled out my ear buds so I could hear her. She spoke and had the most amazing voice. She told me that she had noticed that I was sitting there for longer than usual. I was thrilled, but I hid it. We talked for a minute or so, and I had to ruin it by telling her that I had to go. She stopped me and asked for my name. I gave it to her, and I couldn't be happier right now."
Everyone was watching me as I watched Aidan's mother recite his journal entries. Some people were crying. Some people just listened silently.
She was right—he left us totally clueless on why he killed himself.
It upset me to think that I would never see him again, but it disheartened me even more to think that if I had waited a day longer to speak to him, I never would have had the chance at all.
A/N: Cheesy to the extreme, I know. Oh well.