Who is Lily Christianson?

This day is almost no different than others. My morning routine played out the same, and ended with me in the café, the bell on the door chiming behind me. As always I approach the counter, and as always I order the same drink.

“The vanilla chai didn’t do it for you, huh?”

I’m taken aback at the cashier's comment. “Pardon?”

“You had one yesterday, with your usual. You’re not getting one today, so…”

“Oh, that,” I reply, remembering. “That was for a friend. I’m sure she loved it.”

She shot back the same confused stare she had given me with my drinks yesterday.


“My, uhm –” What were we, anyways? “– my friend, Lily Christianson.”

“Who’s Lily Christianson?”

There was a line forming behind me, and my drink was ready besides, so I excused myself. “Oh, looks like you’ve got my drink already! Thank you.”

We both smile, but I feel her perplexed stare boring into the back of my head.

I shake it off and sit at my usual spot, in front of the large windows. My laptop finds its way to the counter top, my white mug of coffee beside it. I pull it open and power it on, and then gaze out the window as the desktop loads up. My eyes follow the people walking by, taking in small and indiscriminate details: their shoes, their hair style, the rings on their fingers. Never do I look at the whole person, only a facet of their appearance.

A sigh, and I pull my gaze back to my laptop, eager to get to work. Although I had done nothing yesterday, Midge’s words had inspired something in me.

Time flies with the words, and before long I’ve got a full page. The ideas are crisp and clear in my mind, and there’s no trouble at all in their transfer to the page. Or the virtual representation of the page, rather.

I finish my first cup, and one of the girls brings me a second. She says it’s on the house this time. I smile and thank her before launching back into my work.

But when I reach for the cup to take a first tentative sip, a flash of red crosses the window behind my laptop screen.


No, it can’t have been her. There are countless girls in red jackets in this city, and it could be any one of them.

The distraction derailed my train of thought, though, so I reread a little of what I had written:

Elsie walks by once more, bedecked in red, vibrant in the again gray landscape. She walks with grace and care, walks a trapeze among the shuffling pedestrians. The eyes of her admirer follow her from behind a window, his gaze safe behind the glass.

I look up at the window again, confused by what I have just read. The words themselves make perfect sense in the context of the story. However, they also make perfect sense in the context of the café I sit in.

A quick glance back and I see I’m not wrong, I really just wrote what I wrote, and saw what I wrote in the window.

Cautiously, I strike a few keys, writing,

She stops in mid-stride, feeling the presence of his attentions. She turns, smiles, and looks at the man for a moment. Then, she steps into the café he sits in, the bell chiming behind her.

And it did.

My back tenses as the soft ring echoes through the small café. I hear footsteps behind me. My breath is caught in my throat. I’m staring at my reflection in the window, and the blurred reflection of the person behind me.

I hear her say Hello.

The End

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