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It’s a simple story, really. They met in a coffee shop down on Elm Street. It was a quaint little place, unknown to most people. Dull and confined. The coffee wasn’t that delicious. The scones weren’t that tasty. She was a health inspector; he was the owner, frustrated with his business. She had to close him down; he invited her out to dinner. They went to a little Italian restaurant down the block. It was a very well known place. Their scones were pretty fantastic, too.
He liked her smile. She liked his eyes. He loved her laugh, she loved his humor. The coffee shop, though, still needed to be closed. After the building was boarded up and the boxes packed a week later, they never saw each other again. The sun didn’t seem to shine in his life anymore. He walked alone on the sidewalk, went home to an empty house. It was only one date, but he was in love. Simple as that, or so it seemed.
He had never wanted to own a coffee shop, nonetheless the one that had just been closed down. It was a twist of fate, unlucky fate, which had plopped the coffee shop into his life. He was not a man who was meant to serve coffee in an unpopular and ugly place; he was a man who was born for a better reason. He was meant to be a hockey player, hold a hockey stick in his hands. His large build, handsome features, and perfection like skills would make him a star, but all that had been thrown away. It wasn’t even his fault. Nothing was ever his fault. He just always had to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Things like this don’t happen to regular people. Things like this don’t happen at all.
It was the beginning of the season and early morning practices were getting the best of him. He had a one hour commute to the rink, and practices started at six. His head was not in the right mind set that morning. It’s blurry what happened, but he knew it couldn’t have been his fault. An unlucky soul, trapped inside the body of a woman, had come from the wrong direction at the wrong time, and she was the one who had crashed into him. Yet, no matter whose fault it was, she spoke one last wish on her deathbed in the hospital.
Give the coffee shop to the man.
She left the crash with death, and he left the crash with an injured leg, an injury that cost him his career. Why she had left him with her shop was unknown, but everything happens for a reason, doesn’t it? He knew, even if it wasn’t his fault, that he owed his life to her. He had to keep the coffee shop alive, even if was already on the verge of doom.
Now, doom has already come and gone in his life. The shop has been closed down and the health inspector, his possible true love, gone. He has nothing left to live for. No career, no job, no love.
He finds himself back at his place of peace. The ice rink. A place where he clears his mind, closes his eyes, and skates around in circles, absorbing the cold air into his pores and breathing it into his lungs until he can feel the sting. There is no other pain that can hurt more than his. He has lost everything.
He skates for hours, ignoring the world around him. He stops and collapses to the ice. Silence. No one is around; it is only him and his thoughts. He lies on his back, exhaling his emotions into the air, eyes closed.
New skates touch the ice, but he does not move. He does not care. He will stay in this position for eternity. The skates come towards him slowly and calmly. They skate with grace, light as a feather.
She whispers to him. His eyes open to meet hers, hovering over his face. A familiar smile greets him.
“It’s not normal for people to just lie on their backs on ice, you know.” He smiles at her words. He is by far anything but normal. His life is by far anything but normal.
Her hand reaches for his and she helps him up. He is heavy, but she is strong. “What are you doing here?” He whispers, out of breath. He does not want to startle her with the deep voice that she has not heard in so long.
“Health inspection, of course. Monthly inspection for the snack bar. And you?” They stand in silence together.
“I like to skate… to clear my mind.” Her face drains of the color it once had, and guilt fills her eyes.
“I’m sorry.” She knows what he is talking about. It is her fault that he no longer has a coffee shop. She had promised her mother that she would keep the coffee shop alive, even if it was not hers. She did not know him, the new owner, before she had shut it down. She did not know how he had managed to have gotten the shop from her mother, or why her mother had chosen him to have it. She had no part in the decision; her godfather took care of it. All she knew was that her mother’s life was the coffee shop, and she would do anything to keep her mother’s life alive. If her mother and her godfather decided to give the coffee shop to a strange man she never knew about, and not her, that was their decision. Her only duty to the shop would be to keep it running and not shut it down, even if the business cried to be left alone. But, the pain grew too much to bear, and the coffee shop no longer fulfilled its role. There was no need for it to stay anymore. The magic it had held within its walls for the years that he mother no longer lived, was long gone, just like her mother.
When she was younger, the coffee shop was no ordinary coffee shop. It was silly to believe, but she knew that the coffee shop was magical. She never knew her father; he left her mother before she was born. She spent years trying to find him, trying to find the man that fathered her, but she had no leads. Her mother refused to give her any information about her father. She would only say, “There’s nothing you need to know about him. Just know that he left me, not you.” But that was not enough. How could a father leave their unborn child? The pain never went away, and there was a missing piece inside of her.
One day, when she was seventeen, she had to close up the shop. She was alone, and upset. Her birthday would be the next day, and yet another birthday it would be. She would receive no presents from her father, no birthday card, and no phone call. But she would receive something more. Alone and by herself, she sat on the lumpy couch in the corner of the shop. She played with the ring on her finger, like she always did whenever she felt uneasiness inside of her. This was her favorite ring. It was the only thing that she had left of her father. It meant nothing, and at the same time, it meant everything.
In a brief moment, the ring fell off her finger and rolled under the couch. She crouched down to get it, closing her eyes as she rubbed her hand on the cold, wooden floor. She expected to find her ring hidden by the dust underneath her fingertips, but instead she found a latch. Alone, she moved the couch to uncover what was hidden underneath. When she opened the latch, images of her father filled a small shoe box. Love letters from a long and forgotten time were hiding behind small little trinkets. Every memorable thing and moment that she needed to know about her father was in that box; the box that was hidden under the floorboards of her mother’s magical coffee shop, the same coffee shop her parents met in.
Though, now, there is nothing else hidden in the coffee shop. Eight years later, there is nothing left but dust and sorrows.
“What are you doing tonight?” His voice penetrated the silence. Her eyes looked back at his. His eyes stood out against the white, icy background of the rink. “Did you like that Italian restaurant we went to?”
“Oh, yes. It was lovely.”
“Well, um…” his skates fiddled with the hockey puck on the ice, “would you like to go there again? Tonight? Or maybe to a different restaurant?”
“Oh, hmm, I-”
“Or some other night. We could go some other night, if tonight doesn’t work…”
“Tonight is perfect.” A subtle smile filled her face.
They left the ice rink, parting to meet again later that night at the same Italian restaurant. He would wear his cloud blue button-up shirt, and she would wear her white dress. Little did they know, though, light colors stain easily. It seems that rain follows him whenever he’s happy, as if the universe were warning him not to be. Don’t be happy, it will only end badly. But why shouldn’t he be happy? Things were finally coming around. Even if the coffee shop was closed down, it seemed to have brought her into his life. It was a magical coffee shop, bringing people together and all.
The rain fell like never before, but it was not going to ruin the night for the two. The rain could pour all it wanted to, but there was no washing out what was already in the air. Yet, there are many things that happen in the blink of an eye, that neither he nor she could have avoided. In front of the restaurant, cars were buzzing through the streets from all over the place. Every light seemed blurry through the rain, but it was beautiful at the same time. Not many people can find beauty in a rainy night in the city, but they could. He held her close to him under their umbrella, waiting to get inside where the warmth was. She smelled like hazelnuts. He could feel her breaths warming his chest. She could hear his heart beating through his soaked jacket. It was silly how easily they could love each other without knowing one another.
“Do you like toast?” He asked her, smiling like a little boy.
“I do. I like toast very much.”
“And hot chocolate, and a movie on a comfy couch?”
“Yes.” She knew exactly what he was trying to say. He grabbed her arm and they ran across the street, umbrella put away, laughing at nothing and at everything.
It’s easy to push someone away because of fear. It’s easy to not want to let someone in and let them get close. Yet, it is much easier to fall in love. Though, in this case, pushing her away was not that hard. Pushing her away was easy, because it was easy for him to fall in love with her. Maybe he was not put on this planet to become a star hockey player. Maybe he was simply put on this planet to own the coffee shop of a woman who’s daughter needed saving.
Roads get slippery when they’re wet, but his hands did not slip from her body when he pushed her to the side to save her life. He did not hesitate, he did not slip. He meant to push her. He meant to give up his life for her, because it was easy to push her away, easy to love her.
It’s a simply story, really. It involves a magical coffee shop, a man, a woman, something called love, and the word sacrifice. Somehow, there’s a higher purpose for everyone out there. Somehow, everything happens for a reason… doesn’t it?

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