I approach the counter. I pay with cash. I walk off with my coffee.
My stool waits for me, as usual, in front of the steamy window. Puffs of breath outside rise to the heavens like infant clouds, only to disappear into the air that helped birth them.
I'm warm inside. My sweater is warm. My coffee is warm. My body is warm.
She walks by, straight out of a Gap ad, nuzzled tightly in scarf, hat, and gloves.
And now my heart is warm.
I look down at my laptop once she leaves my sight, sighing. I position my hands above the keys, but type only a few words. I stop, knowing that someone is watching me; looking over my shoulder. I turn. I gape.
People give us odd glances, some even whisper in a cluster of hushed voices and spiced steam.
"I'm surprised to see you here," I somehow stammer. "I mean, you always walk by, so you are usually here, but not inside, like now."
She smiles in reply, a brief flash of white teeth amid red lips, a match to the blanche buttons on her crimson coat.
That smile was all I needed.
"What I mean to say is, uhm," I couldn't help but fumble phrases. "Good morning, Lily. It's Declan, if you don't remember."
I think I hear her whisper a shy Hello; but the babble of the cafe drowns the bells of her voice.
Motioning to the empty stool beside my own, I ask, "Would you like to sit down? I could grab you a coffee? or tea?"
Porcelain skin blushes a light pink, twin roses blossoming on her cheeks.
A good sign?
She shakes her head and taps her wrist, eyes sliding deftly to the door.
A mighty clacking clamours near me, the percussive beat of keystrokes and clicks.
"Well, uhm-" I was sure my face burned brighter than hers had, brighter than even her coat. "Maybe you can stop be tomorrow, then?"
The smile that I lived for flashes again as she nods. A quick turn later and she's off to the door.
"Goodbye, Lily," I breathe. "See you tomorrow."
Judging eyes remain fixed upon me, but I see only her eyes, the sparkling brown depths of Lily Christianson.
I think I hear her whisper a shy Farewell; but she is already out the door, an audible click announcing her departure.
A hand rests atop my laptop, closed without my notice.