She's Like Cold Coffee in the Mornings

March 5, 2012
By , Los Altos, CA
You wake up one morning to sunshine pouring in through a window directly onto your face and to the smell of coffee. It’s overwhelming; the scent of freshly ground coffee beans fills your lungs so much that you almost can’t breathe. Coughing, you roll out of bed and run into the kitchen, hoping you didn’t leave the coffee maker on overnight. You turn the corner and enter an empty kitchen, appliances against the walls and countertops shiny as ever.


The smell still won’t leave you.


So maybe you’re going a little crazy when you throw on a fresh pair of clothes and jump in your car and drive straight to the coffee shop you used to spend every day in, seeing you haven’t been there in years—because it was where Jess worked, where you first met him.


You were thirteen and too young to understand right from wrong, and you fell for Jess (just eight years too old for you) in a heartbeat and wouldn’t let go. And you both spent every day there, every second you could, piling up the moments and waiting until you had enough days underneath you for you to be old enough to have the world accept the way you both felt about each other.


But he left you for the future his family had planned for him—a woman to marry and children they wanted him to have. And you had trusted him—you believed he would fight for you, for everything he had promised you. But he didn’t.


The day he left, with a kiss on your cheek and red eyes, you went back in that little shop and cried and cried and felt your heart rip into a thousand pieces. And when the day was over and the place was closing, you left and never came back.


Jess was searing gazes and burning touches. He’s what pulled you through the darkness of your life only to rip your world to shreds. He was laughter and tears, hugs and goodbyes. You knew him from the time when there was warm summer sun that scratched at your skin until that sun faded into the harshest of winter winds.


Jess was coffee beans and cinnamon-sugar; the man wearing an apron that you couldn’t help but love. He was your life before you knew what it really meant to have freedom, and he’s always going to be right under your skin.


Finally, you park the car and suddenly you’re standing in front of that worn, wooden door that you still remember so well, and that coffee smell is so, so strong that your eyes are watering, and you can’t take it anymore, so you twist the knob and step inside.


So maybe it’s fate or a coincidence when you see him in the coffee shop (and suddenly you’re thirteen all over again, too naïve and in love to see how much he could hurt you).


Your eyes meet, golden-green to dark-dark brown, the way he looks at you like a punch in the chest. Jess smiles in a sad sort of way and pushes through the crowd, all of them oblivious to the miracle that has just happened, until he’s by your side, and then somehow his hand is grasping your hand and the sun might’ve just exploded along with the stars and the moon, and everything is whirring right by you except for him. He’s right there, dark-as-night eyes twinkling down at you. “How?” you whisper, eyes suddenly stinging, and you’re acting the way you did when you first met him, letting your emotions define you.


It’s been eight years. Eight years since you touched him or heard his laughter or felt him hug you. For eight years you haven’t heard his voice or looked into his eyes, and now you’re both standing in the coffee shop you used to spend every day in.


“I’m sorry,” he tells you. “I’m so sorry.”


And then he wipes a tear from your cheek and you smile and he laughs and you try to make everything fit together again, but the problem is that you’re twenty-one and in college and he’s twenty-nine and the middle of divorcing his wife, and neither of you are the people you were over that summer.


And you leave, his voice still ringing in your ears, the smell of him lingering on your clothes (and maybe you’re falling for him all over again just a little too hard).


But you keep seeing each other, in supermarkets and restaurants and walking through the streets and you can’t ignore all these by-chance meetings, or the way he makes you feel—like you’re young and powerful and so, so naïve all over again. It’s a good feeling, in the same way that it’s destructive and terrible (and you’d give anything to have that feeling come back again).


Finally, when he walks into you in a small diner, he asks you out with a hopeful smile that you can’t say no to. And it’s when you’re going out to dinner that Jess leans over and crashes his mouth onto yours and tangles his hands in your curls. You pull at his shirt and try to forget how badly he hurt you. And you wake up the next morning to find him sleeping next to you, the sun paling his skin.


All those numbers and ages and boundaries have melted away, but you’ve already started a life and so has he and it’s hard to imagine starting all over, just destroying the years of work you’ve done to run off with him into a foggy future.


He wakes up and kisses you and whispers sweet nothings in your ear and you know—you know—that if he ever leaves you, you won’t be able to hold it together. Not again.


He’s Jess and he’ll always be your world and maybe that was your mistake from the beginning. But he’s here now and he’ll always be just in reach, ready to be there for you (…right?).


So you lean over and kiss him back and it’s like a promise, one neither of you are sure you can keep. But he turns you into that little girl when you’re with him, the one who pushes all the insecurities away and trusts that he’ll be there for you. The one who is bold and reckless and drinks black coffee and loves with no boundaries. He’s Jess and he’s more important than anything.


Jess spends a couple months with you, whispering how much he loves you into your hair and taking you out for coffee and bringing you flowers and just telling you how sorry he is. You believe him, but somewhere in all those days you spend with him, you start to wonder if maybe the years between you and him are piled too high for you to climb up.


Fights start to happen over little things, your apartment becomes a war zone, and suddenly a future planned out with him is becoming a prison sentence. You cry in the shower and take long walks by yourself and sometimes pray he won’t be home when you get there.


It’s terrifying to watch something so amazing crumble apart into the most horrific thing you know.


Eventually, it all comes to an end with Jess walking out and you simply standing in shock because why did everything go so wrong? Maybe this is how the two of you are supposed to love—blindingly bright and strong, like the whitest-hot stars in the sky, only to go supernova in the blink of an eye. It’s never meant to last.


He leaves for England, now unmarried and no longer chained to you or your small town or that coffee shop, and you’re just breaking-breaking-broken, so far gone that you aren’t exactly sure what to do anymore (or how to put yourself back together).


And then you wake up one morning to sunlight shining so brightly that your room is practically engulfed in light, and there is a distinct smell of coffee beans filling the air.





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Jessica. said...
Mar. 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm
This is absolutely AMAZING!!! You have a great way with words, I swear my heart was beating faster in some parts and I couldn't stop reading, in fact I wish it was longer. Whoa that was just awesome
 
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