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“Yep, Gotcha!” The shaggy blonde barista has the cordless phone to his ear as both of his hands make two very different drinks. “Few minutes late, I heard you April!” My heart stops at the sound of her name. I find myself leaning against the glass display to get a closer listen. “I’ll have your triple caf, one pump hazelnut, no foam latte waiting for you when you get here. Yea, I’ll be fine. Okay—Bye!” the phone slips down his shoulder before he grabs it with one hand and hangs up from the call. When he spins around Jack hands the lady before me two cups before turning to greet me.
“Good afternoon Jared, what can I get you?”
“Just a small coffee, thanks.”
“You got it!” he picks up a cup as he turns, slips it under the spout just as his other hand flips it down. My eyes dart around awkwardly as I pick at the seam on my jeans. Jack must notice, “Sorry for the wait, my help got stuck at school today.” He has the lid on the cup before he even turns to place it on the counter between us. “But she’ll be here any minute, if you wanted to wait.”
Immediately, my eyes meet his. One glance was all I needed –he knows. I pause hand halfway reaching for my coffee when my eyes size him up. Is he threatening me with this knowledge? Is he jealous? Or is he really trying to help me out?
Jack shrugs as if reading my thoughts, “Just in case you were wondering.” He then starts to wipe down the counter top clearly ignoring the money in my hands.
“Uh, thank you,” I mutter pocketing the cash, “for everything.” I turn scanning the coffee house for a free spot. There are a few empty tables, but as I look around at all the coffee patrons, I realize I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t want her to look at me as a customer—someone to please and clean up after (not that I wouldn’t mind the pleasing part). But, I want her to remember Jared. The fun times we used to have together, the closeness we used to have. I know it’s my own fault. I let her go into high school not knowing how I felt. I let her walk off my porch after she screamed for me to open the door. To this day, it’s my fault she doesn’t know how I feel about her. It’s also my fault that she probably never will. Because I am the biggest pussy. I think before slipping out of the coffeehouse without even looking back. I grip the support bar and hop into the driver’s seat of the dirty old Jeep held together by some rusty old nuts that always seem to need replacing. The engine roars to life and I shift into drive by the time I see April pull her puttering little Honda into a parking spot. A flash of blonde hair with pink tips is all I spot before I gun it down the road, towards home.
All the next day I regretted not staying. Her and that douche bag, Hunter, broke up again late last night. I heard her screaming outside again before she stumbled into her house. I should have stayed, struck up a conversation. She even drunkenly screamed at me through the window last night. My window was closed so I couldn’t exactly make out what she was saying… but, that’s a step right? Maybe, I should go over and ask her if she’s okay or if she needs a cup of sugar or something… anything!
“Ah, truth is you’re too much of a wuss to do anything. That’s why she’s dating assholes and cheaters!” My own reflection taunts me with my own words. My very own brown eyes glare back at me with the same contempt I feel. “Fuck!” I holler throwing the towel off and slipping a pair of jeans on. I slam the bathroom door closed before taking a deep breath in the hallway. My eyes automatically trail over to the closed door in front of me. It’s closed for a reason— much like my chances with April. Like the girl next door, it’s a piece of the past I try to forget, but will never be able to escape from. I recognize the soft puttering of April’s car before it even gets to our street. I listen as her car door shuts and her shoes click all the way down the walkway, up the three stairs. Thump, thump—yup that’s her fumbling with the door. I wish I had the balls to ask her to fix it. I’m entranced by her as my feet wander deeper into my room, through my window I see a swish of blonde hair pass the small window on the stairs, then the door to her room opens. Her cat, Jinx, is the first to enter followed by April. Her tight jeans are what mesmerize me as she bends over and unbuckles her boots. Her window is still open and I think I can hear her humming again. It’s completely out of tune and I can just barely make out the song, but my lips curl into a smile as I continue to gaze at her. She kicks the other shoe off and turns to her dresser. That’s when she starts to run her fingers over the snow globe collection. I remember the first one her father ever brought home with Cinderella inside of it. She was so proud of it, brought the damn thing everywhere. Now, she has about fifteen of them. She continues about her daily routine bopping about to some music as she cleans her room. I think I could watch her all day. When she’s alone she’s so much happier, I don’t know why she doesn’t see that Hunter guy only drags her down. She’s finally free of him, maybe I could finally ask her out. I’m going to invite her to the barbeque tonight.That’s it. I’m doing it! Before, I change my mind my feet stomp down the stairs with purpose. My heart is pounding against my ribcage. This is it. This is happening. I think more for reassuring myself as I open the front door. I’m just going to go up those three steps and ring her doorbell like I used to do a million times. I’ve made it to my driveway by the time I hear the engine of that stupid obnoxious BMW. Fuck! I spin around and open my toolbox on the side of the driveway. I hear him walk up the walkway and ring the doorbell before he clears his throat.
She opens the door, I vaguely hear them talking before she allows him to come in. My heart sinks, she took him back! I missed my chance. I slam the toolbox shut and head back inside as my feet still stomp with stubborn purpose. It’s not fair! If I’ve learned anything it’s that life isn’t fair. If it was: my parents would still be alive, I would have April, and a football scholarship. But, if there is some crazy twisted plot of fate and I end up with an opportunity to date April Landau—I swear to give her everything I’ve been dreaming about doing for her for years. I will show her how a real man treats a woman… I just hope that I’m blessed with that chance.