Clack, clack, clack.
The sound of his feet striking the pavement. His studded heels clacking and clicking against the wet concrete. His head bowed, letting the rain run down his face and drip off his chin. Dark hair, now drenched, hung around his eyes like a curtain. His hands buried in the pockets of his soaked trench coat. The coat did little to keep the frigid air off, but that didn't bother him. Heavier things were weighing on his mind than the gloomy weather.
Soft sounds of a guitar played in the background. The cafe was warm and cozy. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the warm air. Outside the rain came down, making streaked art on the window, then promptly washing it off. The woman was so engrossed in her novel that she became oblivious to the outside world. Her latte growing cold while waiting to be sipped.
She was a pleasant enough woman. She walked back home from work at the same time each day, stopping at the same cafe, getting the same latte, and letting it go cold. The only thing that changed was her book. Books were her life. They were her only way to escape the dull life she lived. In her books there was action, mystery, and most importantly, romance. She longed for the kind of fairytale adventures she read about. Being rescued from a beast, finding fantastic treasures in a forest void of inhabitants, and meeting the true love of her life, going off to live out a happily ever after in his castle. But still, every day, she came to the same cafe at the same time. Never once experiencing any of her fantasy adventures.
Thunder clapped. Shaking the very souls of the people below the clouds.
“It's getting closer,” he mumbled to no one in particular, “I should wait out the worst of the storm, just to be safe.”
Without lifting his head, or checking to see where he was, he walked into the first public area he found. It stank of coffee. A heavy smell that reminded him of his parents house many years ago. He walked to a table near the back, and against the window, so he could watch the storm pass. He pulled out the seat, as well as the one beside it. Removing his trench coat, giving it a brief shake, he placed it on the seat to the side. He sat down and waited to be served. Maybe a warm cup of tea would shake him out of his thoughts.
The crash of thunder shook the glass of the cafe. She jumped in her seat, dropping her book, and nearly spilling her lukewarm coffee. She leaned down to the floor, retrieving her upturned novel, and began straightening the pages. A flash of lightning caused her to look out the window, searching for the brilliant bolt. But as she looked, her eyes connected with something else. It was a man. He looked dark and sad. He was soaked from the unexpected downpour, yet he wasn't shivering or trying to stay dry. Her eyes followed him as he slowly walked up the street. He was handsome. She couldn't see his eyes, but there was something about him that held her attention as intensely as any of her books had. But like all good books, it has to end at some point. She prepared for him to walk out of view so she could return to her book. But wait, he was turning. He grabbed the door to the cafe. Was he coming inside? She couldn't peel her eyes away from this mysterious man. He walked in, and right past her, close enough to touch. She could hear the chairs scooted out, and his coat being shook. She so desperately wanted to turn, just to watch him. As if by observing him, she could discover why he seemed so despaired. But, alas, courage was never her strong suit.
In time, the man got up and left, back into the rain. He took only his trench coat, and a sullen face. He left so much more than just the empty cup. In his seat were his hopes and dreams, the only person who missed them was the one who discarded them in the first place. As he left the cafe, her eyes followed him. She wished she was a little stronger. She could have talked to him. She could have at least asked for his name. Why did she have to be so scared all the time?
For the next three weeks, everytime she was in the cafe, she searched for him. No book in her hand, she would anxiously sip at her drink. She looked at every person that passed. She knew if she saw him again, she would recognize him. What was his name? What is his story? She didn't know him as anything except the “mysterious man from the storm”. But little did she know, she would never see him walking those streets.
It was 9 AM. She had just put on the blue hair net, the latex gloves, and the apron they had to wear for work. Just another normal day, though she was a little distracted. She was already day dreaming of the cafe and seeing the mystery man. She wasn't paying attention as she opened the freezer, and pulled out the metal stretcher. She wasn't there as she slid the body bag onto the examination table. Her mind was still away as she unzipped the bag to reveal the latest body.
She sat down in the other room and briefly scanned the police report.
Pulled out of the river,
Suspected cause of death…
Leapt from bridge.
She returned to the table, scalpel in hand, unwilling to begin work. All she could think about was what would happen when she met this man. Would he rescue her from her tower? How long would it be till they were married? How long is a happily ever after?
She prepared for the first cut, skillfully holding the knife against the abdomen, under the rib cage. She stopped. She always tried to look at the unfortunate person, and wish them a kind of last goodbye. But as she looked at this man, her eyes locked on his face.
It was him.
All in a moment, two peoples hopes and dreams can be crushed.
How long does a happily ever after last?
They never do.