A Cup of Tea

A story unbound. Write the story with us.

I saw her from across the street. She was sitting inside the coffee shop, alone, wondering… perhaps waiting. It was then that he walked by, drenched like a drowned rat as the rain started to pour down even harder. He ducked into the doorway of the cafe to escape it for a moment. That was when they spotted each other; she smiled at him and motioned to the empty seat next to her.

As I watched, they chatted for a moment while he took off his soaked jacket and placed it on the back of his chair. Then he stood up and went to the counter, ordered some drinks, and came back with two mugs of tea. I could tell it was tea because of the string and paper labels hanging over the sides of the cups.

I don’t know why I watched them for so long, but there was something about the way they looked at each other that made it impossible for me to take my gaze away from them for more than a second. At first I thought they had never met before because their interactions seemed awkward and uncomfortable, but then I realized they had probably known each other very well earlier in their lives and years had passed since their last meeting.

When they finally saw each other again it was like, magically, nothing else had ever been. All of the other people just fell away and they were back where they left off. It had been awhile, and many distractions and missteps along the way. Once they were together again it was hard to believe that they had wasted so much time apart. They sat with their eyes locked for a long time. Suddenly, she broke into a huge grin and kicked him gently under the table. They both knew that tonight would be the night…the night that would change everything.

The coffee shop was warm and slightly damp from the rain steaming off of the people huddled inside. The place was mostly filled with students. They all sat very still, their faces lit by the glow of their laptops. The couple laughed and made up stories about them one by one. They jotted the occasional note in their journals and wrote a story together. They felt invincible and happy. They sipped first one tea and then another and then another.

Then they noticed the woman in the corner. She sat alone. She too was drinking tea and every once in a while she dabbed at her eyes with a napkin. She was neither reading nor writing. She had her journal open but the page was blank. The couple paused but neither of them had anything to say. They both fell silent as they both suddenly felt the chill.

A flicker of a moment passed.

This time it was his turn to smile. Suddenly, his hand was on hers and everyone and everything else melted away. They leaned in over the table…kissed each other lightly for the first time, and then picked up their coats and left the café.

This story is an unplanned collaboration with Shannon Pawliw. I wrote the first portion as a work in progress and posted it on my blog here. Shannon read it and decided to write the second part here. Take part or all and re-mix as you please.

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