Mismatched chairs, distressed wood, bright colorful patio furniture, and the smell of well-roasted coffee beans. Andy inhales the space as she swings open the door in one jolted tug. Her body abuzz with the nerves of seeing an ex-lover and the floating euphoria that drinking whiskey always gave her. Her eyes dart immediately around the interior of the cafe searching for Everett’s strong silhouette. Her heart stops as her eyes find Everett tucked in the furthest corner of the cafe, his eyes lost in the pages of “The Portrait of Dorian Grey.” Andy breathes in deep, letting the air hiss slowly out of her cracked lips as she tugs at the straps of her dress. She brushes back the dripping wet tangles of her hair, hiding dark strands deeper beneath her white beanie, and quickly orders a double espresso without making eye contact with the pierced and tattooed teenager behind the cash register.
Armed with the tiny ceramic cup filled to the brim with espresso, Andy weaves her way between chairs and scattered purses to the corner where Everett sits oblivious and unfazed by the hum of his surroundings. His eyes don’t even seem to dart in her direction until Andy drops her purse to the ground and scrapes the chair across the wood flooring. Everett’s warm embracing smile is dizzying as Andy shakily sets down the ceramic demitasse and slides into her designated seat.
She stares at Everett’s strong hands as his places the book delicately in the center of the table, a clear division arising between them, and leans back into his chair. “It’s great to see you.” the words lumber smoothly from his lips.
“You too” Andy’s words sounding hesitant, like a stutter, compared to Everett’s. He merely smiles in response, picking up his coffee cup. The silence hovers over the novel at the center of the table. Andy’s foot vibrates against one of her chair legs, urging herself to not make direct eye contact for too long.
“How have you been?” Everett asks with a warmth reserved for old friends you’ve lost touch with over the years or family members you haven’t seen since they got married and moved out of state.
“Fine. Just….fine, yeah….” the stuttering of her own voice brings a flush to Andy’s face. She stirs her espresso mindlessly without bringing the cup to her lips, spilling it’s contents every few stirs. “How about you?”
Everett laughs; its a strong, rolling sound, honest in quality. The laughter jolts Andy, she drops the silver spoon directly into her demitasse and feels the warmth of her cheeks multiply. For the first time since she walked in, for the first time since her and Everett broke up, Andy’s eyes lock on his. The smile melts from Andy’s face and tears burn at the corner of her eyes. She can’t mutter a word, though she feels every question she’s had since Everett walked out buzzing on her lips.
“I’m sorry.” Everett fidgets with the handle of his coffee cups, glancing between the table and Andy’s pained expression. “This is strange, isn’t it?” gently Everett chuckles and despite the tears slowly trickling through her fresh eye-liner Andy grins. This is the Everett she remembers, straightforward and heartwarming even in the most unfortunate of situations. “But….I did ask to meet for a reason…” Everett straightens in his chair and moves the book from the table. Though the clear division of space has been removed, Everett’s face hardens, the chuckle disappears.
Andy feels her face falling and new tears forming. What could possibly be worse than telling me you didn’t love me? What could be worse than you leaving?
“I wanted to meet to tell you something, something important. I know I left in a flurry. I know I didn’t go about the breakup in the best way. I know how hard it was for you.” Andy’s scoff stops Everett short.
“You have no idea” Andy mutters, bringing her espresso to her lips and blinking the hot tears from her eyes. He’s not worth it. Her mind cries over and over again.
“….I guess I don’t.” Everett crosses his hands on top of the table, taking a deep breath as he observes Andy. As her observes this new version of Andy. “I truly am sorry.” The words hang pathetically in the air, though genuine in his delivery, Andy finds no solace in Everett’s words. She avoids his eye contact, instead she counts the bubbles in his coffee, stirs her espresso obsessively, counts the lines in the wood laminate on the table.
“Andy…..” slight desperation creeps in at the corners of Everett’s voice. “Andy……..
I’m getting married.”
Andy feels the world slide out from under her feet, her silver spoon clatters against the saucer and espresso splatters across the table. The tears are at her chin before she even realizes she’s crying. Her hands shake against the table, her feet tangle around the legs of her chair, and her chest shutters as shocked gasp escapes her lips.
“I’m getting married,” Everett continues, his voice seeming to be the background noise to this attack Andy feels on her body. “married……I wanted you to know. I don’t really know why, but I thought it was something I should tell you. Her name is…..well, I guess you probably don’t want to know who she is. I don’t know. Do you? Andy?”
Andy feels her heart in her throat. I can’t breathe. I can’t see. It’s too damn hot in here. Andy grabs her purse from the ground beside her chair and stands so fast she starts seeing the room tilt and spin.
“I’ve got to go” she spits out as she spins away, knocking the table they had shared and spilling the remnants of her espresso before bolting for the door. Andy finds herself at the bus stop before she looks back at the coffee shop. She didn’t find Everett following after her, she merely met the stares of a few strangers who could clearly care less about the girl whose face was tear-stained and dripping with mascara.
Getting married. Married. The word echoed in Andy’s ears. Over and over again Everett’s voice rang strong and clear. The sight of him in a black tuxedo, that warm, welcoming smile, the rolling laughter. It had always been her in the wedding dress at the other end of the aisle. A fresh wave of tears fell down Andy’s face, gathering in a puddle above her collarbones.
As she walks to the last seat in the back of the bus Andy grows aware of her surroundings. With no clear destination and no desire to get off the bus and potentially cross paths with Everett, she collapsed in the furthest seat. Wiping at her face with a napkin handed silently to her from the woman a few seats in front of her Andy pulls her phone from her purse.
4:00 pm Text from: Jasper
Are you coming to my art show? Don’t give me some lame ass excuse. And don’t worry – Molly won’t be able to stay late – we can have some fun if you’re up to it 😉