Buried in History | Teen Ink

Buried in History

August 10, 2022
By yumi SILVER, Thousand Oaks, California
yumi SILVER, Thousand Oaks, California
7 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The living world is a dream. The nocturnal dream is reality.” -Rampo Edogawa

The caramelized scent of smoke slept in the coffee shop while the murmuring of customers and clinking of cups filled the air. The burnished bell chimed as I glanced up, my eyes drifting to a girl. Ink black hair floated around her heavy plate armor, a simply adorned longsword decorating her waist. She held her chin up boldly, her posture composed as she strided towards me. She couldn’t be older than 16, yet her regal face held piercing brown eyes, burdened with emptiness and grief.

Already startled, I jumped when she fluently began speaking a strange dialect of Chinese to me, her voice eloquent yet shadowed with harshness. She pronounced her words strangely, yet she spoke with confidence and firmness. I shook my head apologetically. She stopped, her face denoting her confusion. After observing the shop, she took a seat at the table closest to me, her fingers admiring the dark maple wood as her other hand rested on her sword. The other customers ignored her, continuing their comfortable conversations with one another.

I poured almond milk into a large mug, not able to stop my eyes from glancing over occasionally. She sat completely still, her shoulders pulled back and her eyes flicking across the shop warily. The plates of her armor glinted under the lighting, the pendant lights revealing her soft features and dark eyelashes with a warm glow. After a few minutes of silence, I walked her way, my fingers clasped around a steaming mug of coffee, carefully placing it on her table. She stared at it, her gaze nearly sharp enough to shatter the mug. 

The chair scraped across the wooden floor as I pulled it out, sitting opposite of the girl. My lips were pulled into a smile as I pulled out a notepad and a pen, my hands inking elegant characters onto the bright yellow paper. A hint of curiosity gleamed in her eyes as they followed my strokes.

I turned the notepad around to show her what I had written. She wore a look of puzzlement once again, a frown settling upon her face. She took the pen, her fingers examining the writing tool, before writing underneath my handwriting. As she wrote, her armor scratched against the table and strands of her hair fell into her face like a curtain over the night sky. Her characters were unusual, the strokes too abrupt and short. I shook my head at her. I didn’t expect to be able to communicate with her. Her appearance, her expression, she seemed as if she had jumped out of a history book. The fragrance of weathered pages clung to her porcelain skin, her eyes holding a soft glow weary with sorrow. She stood out in every way from the modern atmosphere.

The girl’s eyes were drawn to the mug, the scent of roasted hazelnuts and ground coffee wrapping snugly around her. She hesitantly grasped the mug, bringing it to her thin lips. She closed her eyes, hiding their tired gleam, before setting the mug back on the table. She smiled. I smiled back.

An hour ran by as we sat together. No words were uttered, yet thousands of thoughts seemed to be exchanged. Once the sun had set, the sky began losing its bold red gleam and a lumbering purple started to take its place, the girl stood up. Customers were drifting away to carry on with their days, more and more tables becoming vacant. Her mug had been emptied, the coffee finished. She gave me a respectful bow, her arms poised in front of her. I stood up and imitated the bow. As she walked through the door, the polished bell ringing once again, she looked back. Over the tired gaze in her eyes was a vibrant glimmer, unclouded and rich with happiness. The brief moment was engraved into my mind before the darkness outside swallowed her up, her eyes lost in the night. 

From that day on, I began meeting strange customers. An old man whose sunken face was shadowed with a heavy beard, his personality violent and arrogant, quickly infuriated me as he broke half a dozen cups; a loosely-draped robe was barely clinging to his scrawny arms as the stench of rancid wine burned my eyes, his skin paper-thin. A well-built man with dark hair carrying a large wooden bow on his back, his eyes mischievous and bright, speaking two foreign languages - both of which I could not understand. After I caught him trying to smuggle coins out of the tip jar, I reached out to stop him. His skin tore at my touch, his arm flaking into thousands of torn pieces of paper as a look of disbelief was etched upon his eyes. I was stunned at first, staring at his remains becoming scraps on the floor as history called him back. However, that day ended and the next began, a haggard woman dressed in white entering the coffee shop, the bell ringing once again. As these unusual figures came and went, engraving new memories into my mind as forgotten history was once more retold, my eyes never forgot the young girl whose face carried a solemn and lonely burden, her body bearing the weight of the many that had fallen.

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