Category : Stories
Sub Category : Romance
Even at a distance, Eric could tell that business wasn't great at the cafe. Occupying one of the vacant chairs sat a waiter with too much time on his hands, dozing off, both legs prompt up on the table.
He entered the café, the door clicking shut behind him, he saw Lily stationed behind the counter. Lily, who was on her phone, immediately shoved the device in her pocket upon noticing a customer.
She walked over to Eric who was at the door. “Welcome! Are you alone?”
“Lily, I’ve been here many times. Do you not remember me?” Eric asked, pointing a finger at himself.
Lily stared at him intensely, the cogs in her brains turning yet nothing came to mind. She shook her head negatively.
Eric scoffed jokingly. “Your forgetfulness is really on a whole different level.” He patted Lily on the shoulder and made his way to the kitchen stand. Looking in, Eric very quickly spotted Sarah.
“Yo!” Eric called out to her. Sarah, who was not surprisingly also on her phone, looked up in surprise, almost dropping her phone.
"Jesus Chris! You scared the hell out of me. I thought you were my boss!" Sarah complained. A look of relief washed over her.
“When does your shift end?” Eric asked as he leaned on the counter.
Sarah looked at her watch to check the time, before saying, “I'm done in 15.”
“Would you like to join me for dinner then?” Eric asked.
“You're treating?” Sarah asked.
"I can't afford anything fancy but if I can get company, I don't mind paying for two." Eric said.
"You promised, ok?" Sarah asked.
Eric merely nodded his head, surprised that she agreed so easily.
"Wait here for me." Sarah instructed, before rushing off to the staffroom.
Just then, Lily finally remembered Eric. She clapped her hands in enlightenment. Running up to Eric's side, she exclaimed, “I got it! You are that one customer that always orders cappuccino at the wee hours!”
Eric have been coming to this cafe to buy coffee whenever he decided to pull an all nighter.
“Are you a friend of Sarah?” Lily asked, having observed their entire conversation.
“Yes.” Eric answered. As if that wasn't obvious enough.
Lily knudged Eric. “Just a friend?” She asked mischievously.
“Just a friend.” Eric laughed in response.
Lily eyed Eric in suspicion, smile not leaving her face. “That’s what they all say.”
“Trust me, there’s nothing going on between me and Sarah. We're nothing more than buddies. Sarah would puke at the thought of us together.” Eric explained.
Lily was about to say something when Sarah walked out of the bathroom, a bag in hand, she walked up to them.
“I’m done, let’s go.” Sarah told Eric as she waved good bye to Lily, who pitifully waved back at them. She has the night shift today. Mentally, she was a little unhappy at Eric for stealing away her only company as Sarah would often accompany her during times like these when business was exceptionally bad.
The moment Eric and Sarah stepped out of the cafe, Sarah asked, “What were you and Lily talking about?”
“She asked if there was anything going on between us.”
“What’s going on between us?” Sarah asked confused, not understanding.
When her brain finally managed to connect the dots, she had the most disgusted look on her face.
“You don’t have to look so terrified.” Eric scoffed.
Sarah shook her head furiously. “It’s never happening! I can’t see myself ever looking at you in that way!”
If Eric felt his heart fell ever so slightly at her words, he brushed it off and never thought a thing about it ever again.
“By the way, what do you want to eat?” Sarah asked, changing the topic. As of right now, they were both just walking aimlessly.
“I’m fine with anything.” Eric said, shrugging.
Not one to stand on ceremony, Sarah suggested, “There’s this new burger stand that I’ve been dying to try. Are you up for that?”
“Sure, why not?” Eric agreed without a second thought, going along with her pick.
Siting at a table for two, Eric watched as Sarah unwrapped her burger, he did so as well, at the same time, contemplating what to talk about, the first thing that came to mind was school related affairs but there's nothing interesting about school as of lately, everyone was preparing for the upcoming exams, so he settled for a simple, "How's work?"
“It's ok...... " Eric noted the pause in her sentence. She added an uncertain, "...... I guess?” Not sure of her own answer.
Eric furrowed his brows in worry, he stopped eating, looked up at Sarah to see her looking at the owner flipping burgers. She barely touched her burger.
"Is something wrong?" Eric asked.
Sarah turned back to face him. Her face etched with anxiety. “I saw Chris yesterday. He came to the store…...”
“….but he left almost immediately.”
Eric's frown only deepened. Sarah has never told him and he has never asked, but he would bet a million that Sarah had purposely chose to work in that particular cafe because it is a known fact that Chris never eats in that cafe.
Eric swallowed the remnants in his mouth before asking, “Are you okay?”
Staring down at her burger, she uttered, “When we broke up two years ago, I thought I would be fine as we attended different schools but he just had to transfer to our school. Now, every time I see him, my chest tightens, and it hurts.”
“When he transferred into my class and he walked up to me, greeted me as though we never had a thing in the past. Even though I felt like what we had back then was real, why am I the only one suffering? ”
“Was everything just a joke to him? He was able to laugh and talk to me like normal. And yet, until now…..”
“Don’t say it.” Eric calmly said as he shook his head. Sarah looked up and Eric had to physically restrain himself from looking away. Sarah was blinking back tears.
She forced a smile. A smile so sad, Eric could almost feel her pain. “I’m sorry I was blabbing.” She apologised.
Eric knew that Sarah still harbored feelings for Chris. It was so obvious yet Chris seem to be the only one that is oblivious to the truth. Eric could even see that she was trembling.
“It hurts…..” Eric heard Sarah utter.
“…..It hurts so much that I have to smile in front of him as though nothing is wrong and that I’m fine.” Sarah looked dead in his eyes. Eric looked at her wide eyed as a tear rolled down her face.
Eric panicked, he grabbed a napkin, almost throwing his chair to the ground when he stood up so suddenly to wipe her face. “H-Hey, you can’t cry here.” Eric said as he kept passing her tissues. They were in public and people were starting to stare and talk.
It seems like Eric's attempt to get her to not break down in public only served to agrevate the situation. If anything, she was crying harder by the second.
“Ah, Jeez!” Eric grabbed Sarah by the hand and dragged her away from the crowd.
“I’m… sorry…. The tears j-just won’t stop coming.” Sarah uttered as Eric pulled her by the hand.
Sarah did her best to hold in her tears but every time she managed to control her emotions, she would think about it again and she would cry all over again.
Eric pulled her into an empty alley and pulled Sarah into his arms. He was glad that Sarah didn't put up a struggle. One hand hugging her, the other he used to very gently push her head into his shoulder. Eric could care less about how his favourite top was completely soacked with tears.
Eric has known Sarah every since they were in high school and this was the very first time he has ever seen her cry and he already decided that this is the last time he ever wants to see it. For her to break down, she must have been holding it in for such a long time.
After a while, Sarah managed to stop crying, resorting to sniffles. Her eyes were red and her voice muffled as she pulled herself apart from Eric’s embrace.
“You shouldn’t hate yourself for loving someone.” Eric voiced his opinion while letting her go.
She was about to retort when Eric cut her off. Sarah's eyes would have widened impossibly wide if not for having cried her eyes out just seconds ago when Eric brushed the lose strands of her hair behind her ear.
"And don't apologise for being human." Cuping Sarah's face, Eric wiped off the tear streaks on her cheeks. Sarah almost cried again at his action.
“I didn’t know you were capable of doing something like that.” Sarah turned her back to him and crossed her arms.
“You can just scold me for loving someone for so long.” Her voice barely above a whisper.
“You know I won’t do that.”
Suddenly, Sarah started hiccuping and she turned back to face him, even more embarrassed. “Any girl would have fallen in love with you with what you did back there.”
“Did it work?” Eric asked.
Sarah brust out laughing at how serious Eric was. And Eric could only laugh along with her.
All Rights Reserved @ 2018 by Anne Teng