NaNoWriMo Day 8: 3,576 of 50,000

Ryan Wilson for Unsplash

Beginning to approach that ever difficult WRITER’S BLOCK stage. Not sure where to go I am afraid.

To read the previous chapters head HERE!

Chapter Two

Life seemed to continue on as normal after that evening. Work began to occupy Theo’s every waking minute as he traveled back and forth between the local coffee shop, Ballardite, and his townhome on 61st street. Having a job that didn’t require anything but an Internet connection made life bearable for Theo. He was able to travel freely over the years, which had, Theo figured, led to the consistent nagging from his family. Yes, it was true Theo didn’t stay in one place long enough, but it wasn’t because he was quick to boredom it was because scenery could get old. The trees that changed colors, the snow that piled high, the grass that was cut, and so many other familiar sights that just couldn’t hold Theo’s attention.

Theo had wanted an out for so long that it took him nearly four years after graduating from college for him to find the scenery that didn’t get old. The scenery that allowed him the room to breath and gave him something to hope for: Seattle. He’d settled in nicely almost a year ago while the leaves were turning and the rain was falling. Theo felt alive for the first time in a long time as he roamed the city streets. For Theo the west coast was his mission in life. His younger sister, Chloe, used to tell him it was impossible.

“We’re from Michigan for crying out loud. We aren’t going anywhere Theo! Even our friends from high school still live here,” she’d articulated to him over the phone one day. She was right in some ways, but Theo made the breakout two years after he graduated college when he moved to the big city of Chicago. It didn’t last long because the scenery became tainted and the allure of the city dulled like a dying light bulb: flickering at first then going out all at once. Then his younger sister, of all people, found her way to Seattle straight out of college. Theo was happy for her, but also rather annoyed that it was her, the biggest cynic of them all, who “got out” first. So, Theo followed a couple months later and hadn’t looked back since then.

So, as Theo continued to work he found himself walking along 20th street for what felt like the millionth time that week. His black, Nike backpack slung over his back and sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose. The familiar ding of the bell above the door welcomed him into his office as well as the sounds of cappuccinos being made behind the counter. Theo’s office, or rather the local coffee shop, had become a place — one of the only places — — where Theo found a work vibe that helped keep his mind focused on his job. Not only that, but the barista who worked during his working hours had become one of his best friends since he moved.

Ms. Ophelia Sinclair had a personality that lived up to her literary name. She was a powerhouse with impeccable coffee skills and a flare for the dramatic. When Theo first met Ophelia she remarked that his double shot of espresso was too tame of a drink for someone looking like him. Theo was offended at first until she chuckled and threw back her hair as she rang up his order.

“I’m only kidding dude. Chill. Where are you from like some Midwestern small town?” Ophelia grabbed a ceramic mug and turned back around waiting for his response. At this hour, six am, the coffee shop was all but empty save for the elderly woman who was here well before Theo ever arrived.

“How could you have possibly known that?” Theo responded as he put his credit card back in his wallet.

Ophelia shrugged and got to work on his espresso. “A girl just knows these things. So, which city is it Chicago or Detroit?” Theo was astounded yet again and did a terrible job of hiding it as Ophelia’s third laugh of the morning met his ears. “Oh, let me guess Detroit?”

Theo couldn’t do much but nod his head as his espresso was set before him. “Name’s Ophelia.”

He took the mug, chugged down nearly half of his drink, and smiled at her. “Theo.” Ophelia smiled back hiding her astonishment at his chugging actions pretty well.

“Cheers, Theo.” He momentarily held his mug in the air and found his way to a window seat. After that first day in the coffee shop he’d come to claim the seat as his own over the past several months. As Theo got down to work opening his laptop and setting his phone on the table nearby he gave himself a moment to look out the window and watch the grey light usher in a new day. The moment would’ve been peaceful if it wasn’t for the man who walked by slowly. The worn jeans, yellow T-shirt, and scraggly beard was all but familiar to Theo now.

“No way,” Theo found himself saying under his breath as the man passed by.

“No way, what?” Ophelia’s voice made Theo nearly jump out of his seat giving her the satisfaction of her unique laugh of the morning. She seemed to have some time on her hands because she decided to sit down in the seat next to him and wait for Theo’s heart to restart. “What were you looking at?”

A sip of espresso gave Theo an excuse to find his breath before responding. “Not what, but who.” He couldn’t help himself. For weeks Theo had been worried about this man with the knife and knew that his mind was probably getting the better of him. But if he could just tell somebody about this man then maybe Theo wouldn’t feel so ridiculous.

“Ok, Theodore who?” Ophelia often said his full name to lighten the mood or to annoy him. He could never tell which one it was with her and her unpredictability.

“It’s this guy who I think lives in his van near my house,” at this Ophelia leaned in closer, “I didn’t really think much of him for a while but then one day the dude is rummaging in his van, barefoot, and then he pulls out this knife. I’m freaking out so I rush home and watch him out of my window and he’s,” Theo stumbled because he so desperately wanted to use a swear word at this point but always refrained himself in front of Ophelia, “kneeling on the sidewalk using that knife to cut the weeds in the cracks!” Theo was aware his voice had raised a bit as he got to the end of the tale, but Ophelia’s face remain unchanged except for her left eyebrow it always gave her away.

“Well, isn’t that just interesting Theo,” she thought she was coming off as sincere but really, because of her left eyebrow, she was both not believing a word he was saying and refraining from calling him a lunatic. The restraint she had in doing both of these things was appreciated, but Theo wished for once that someone would be honest with him.

“Yeah,” Theo knew the conversation was no longer going anywhere so he opened the case that held his Air Pods and Ophelia quietly got up and walked back to the front counter. Several hours passed before Theo decided it was time for lunch and so after a quick seat stretching exercise he made his way to the counter where Ophelia was already ringing up his lunch order.

“Need a refill on the espresso Theodore?” Despite whatever interaction they had during this morning’s confession Theo found himself feeling thankful for Ophelia. She remained a constant whether it be her humor or the fact that she knew his breakfast and lunch order it didn’t matter.

“No, Ophelia just a water please oh please,” he smirked and waited for her to fill a plastic cup with water. For the first few weeks Theo had lived in Ballard he’d considered asking Ophelia out on a date. She was pretty and incredibly kind to him everyday. However, as the two of them grew closer he realized she was both not interested in him in that way and was not interested in a relationship with anyone, as she put it, male or female. Period. And so he left that possibility in the rear view mirror and moved forward with their friendship. Which came as a relief to both he presumed.

“Sammy Theo,” Ophelia said loudly tossing him his usual turkey sandwich before turning her attention to the next customer. As the work day ended Theo thought the best thing for him to do would be to find a distraction. Everything inside of him was telling him to go home and look for the neighborhood man with the knife. The rational side of him realized the slippery slope this could lead him down, so he needed to make evening plans. Slipping his computer into his bag and taking his dishes up front he noticed Ophelia counting her register a signal that her shift was nearly up.

“Hey O,” he maneuvered around some afternoon customers to get to his friend, “any plans for tonight?” She looked up after finishing counting a set of $20 bills and stared at him for a moment presumably thinking before her face lit up.

“Oh yeah! Tyler reserved a karaoke room at the Rock Box in Cap Hill! It’s supposed to be really fun,” Ophelia looked back down finishing her task.

“Karaoke, really? Seems like the exact opposite of something Tyler would enjoy doing,” Theo remarked thinking about his other best friend. Theo had met Tyler through Ophelia who had some friend in common. It was honestly not worth it keeping up with how people connected to each other out here. All one needed to know was that nearly everyone was a transplant to the area and most people worked for one of the multitude of tech companies in the city. Which aptly described Tyler Wilkinson. He moved nearly five years ago from California and worked as a software engineer for Amazon. Despite being a part of the majority Theo and Tyler connected through snowboarding. Theo’s first winter here included Snoqualmie Pass snowboarding trips nearly every weekend. Through those trips he got to know Tyler well and gained a strong friend as he transitioned to the new state.

“He’s trying to impress some girl whose coming,” Ophelia said dramatically moving her hand which was currently filled with $1 bills, “Evangeline I think is her name.”

I shrugged pulling out my phone to look up this place. “Ah, ok well I guess I will see you there later?” I questioned as Ophelia finished counting.

She looked up and smiled. “You bet Theodore!”

With a nod Theo turned and made his short journey home. Despite making plans and texting Tyler for more information Theo still put his phone down when he passed the block where the man’s van was usually parked. He had to compose himself because for the first time in a week the man’s van and the man himself was nowhere in sight. Theo’s mind immediately spiraled in many different directions mainly wondering what would keep this man from his daily routine. One that Theo hadn’t realized until that moment that he was obsessively tracking. That was the moment that the word obsessed would soon become synonymous with Theo.

Follow along with me this month at Jenna Pratt!