The Coffee Shop
by Kirby Crews
He walked into the coffee shop; the aroma of blueberry muffins and coffee filled the tiny room. It was crowded, and as he ordered, his eyes scanned the room for an empty seat. To the left side of the room there were men laughing and surrounded by cigarette smoke. To the right of the room, he noticed an attractive woman sitting alone at a corner table, sipping her coffee and reading a novel. The voice inside his head said, "Go and speak to her." So confidently, he walked over to the table and smiled:
"Is this seat taken?"
"No, you're welcome to join me."
He took his seat at the corner table, and as he did, he looked at the woman in front of him. He noticed how beautiful she was and how much she resembled Ann. She had long brown wavy hair that laid below her shoulders, crystal blues eyes, like the color of the ocean, and her skin was pale, but her smile was radiant.
"My name is George Kasey."
The woman smiled at him and tilted her head, holding her cup.
"It's nice to meet you."
"So, what do you do for a living, Mr. Kasey?"
"I am a fifth grade teacher, and please call me George. Only my students call me Mr. Kasey."
"Okay, I will remember that; so you're a teacher? You must love kids. Do you have any children of your own?"
George looked down at his coffee and frowned for a moment.
"No, my wife and I never got that far."
"Oh, are you married?"
"Well I was; my wife is deceased."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"It's okay. She died two years ago from cancer. I don't talk about her much."
Meredith looked at the man, and she could clearly see from his expression that this was a man who had a lot of pain to let go of.
"Well, tell me about her."
George hesitated for a moment and thought, "Why should I tell this woman about Ann? She doesn't know me, and I don't know her." But somehow he felt comfortable.
"Her name was Ann. She was beautiful. Actually, you resemble her except her eyes were green."
"Really? Well, they say everyone has a twin." She grinned.
"I met her here, and this is where we had our first date. It's not the same as it was back then though. They've remodeled and all. She was also a teacher. We ended up working together at the same school the last few years she was alive."
"How long were you married?"
"Almost seven years. She was my best friend, and now I've learned to just be alone." He tucked his head, ashamed that he had tears coming up in his eyes, but he looked up at the woman. She, too, had tears. Her sympathy struck him.
"Well, it looks to me like you could use someone to talk to."
"Yes, I can."
"Well then, I am your new best friend."
George just smiled, and Meredith smiled back. For hours, they sat in the coffee shop and talked about work, love, and everything else. The time passed by so quickly; they hadn't even realized how late it was getting. At the end of the conversation, they agreed that they had enjoyed the chat and would like to meet again. They decided they could meet at the same place, the coffee shop, on Friday at seven o'clock sharp.
"Well hello. How has your week been?"
"Good, what about you?"
"My days are always the same. I go home, grade papers, eat dinner, watch a little TV, and go to bed."
"Have you dated anyone since your wife died?"
The question shocked George; he wasn't expecting her to just come out and say that. Still, he replied honestly.
"No, I haven't. Most of the time I feel guilty for wanting to. I even feel guilty looking at another woman. I even feel guilty sitting here with you."
"I feel that I am betraying Ann."
"You're human. You are not betraying her. She'd understand."
"I guess so; that's just hard to believe."
"I'm sure, but maybe you should think about dating again."
They sat there just like before talking and drinking although George did most of the talking, and Meredith just listened. Pretty soon, they became good friends, and every Friday, they would meet at the coffee shop and talk. Eventually, Meredith started to feel for George, but she just couldn't tell him. She was afraid of rejection, afraid that because of Ann, he would not return the feelings.
It had been two months since George and Meredith first met. It was a Friday night, and they had planned to meet at the coffee shop once again, but tonight would be different. George went into the coffee shop, looking around, but there was no sign of Meredith. She wasn't at their usual table. Most of the time she arrived first. Still, he ordered his coffee and sat down at their designated table, the corner table. After an hour had passed, George got worried. Meredith still hadn't showed. There was no way he could reach her; he didn't have her phone number, and he didn't know where she lived. It was strange but true that he had no way of reaching this woman with whom he had become such good friends. In his mind, he knew something was wrong, but he didn't know what to do. Finally, after waiting for her for two hours, George decided to leave.
The next morning, George awoke still with the worries of where Meredith was the night before. He sat down at the kitchen table, drank his coffee, and started to read the newspaper. What he saw on the front page would change everything! He read it out loud to himself, "SINGLE WOMAN KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT." George knew right away that it must be Meredith. Without even knowing the woman, he just knew. He continued to read. She lost control of the car while driving down the highway. She was speeding, and the time of the accident was around 7pm.
"Oh my God. She was trying to get to me."
He threw the paper down in anger. He couldn't understand why--why did another woman he cared for so much have to die?
Just then, the telephone rang. He didn't want to answer it, but he got a voice inside his head like the day he was told to go speak to Meredith. He trusted it, so he answered.
"Is this George Kasey?"
"Yes, to whom am I speaking?"
"My name is Mike, and I have a note here that I found in a vehicle that was brought last night to my shop."
"Did the vehicle belong to a woman named Meredith?"
"Yes. Was she a friend of yours?"
"Well, we found a folded up note in the front seat with your name on it."
"Okay. Are you located next to the post office?"
"Hold it. I'm on my way."
As George drove to the shop, he tried to envision what would be in the note. When did she have time to write the note if she died so suddenly? He made his way to the shop, pulling in and parking. He walked to the front office, and as he walked, he passed what he knew was Meredith's car. It was torn apart, the whole left side completely smashed in. The first thing he though was how much pain she must have went through. The owner met him at the door with the tiny folded piece of paper in his hand.
"Sorry sir. Here you go."
George took the note and decided not to read it until he returned home. He was anxious to read it but not sure he should at the moment.
As soon as he got home, he walked in, laid down his keys on the kitchen table, and sat in the chair. Taking a deep breath, he slowly opened the note. It read:
It's okay to fall in love. It's okay to not want to be alone. Ann will understand. It won't make her love you any less. You must go on living your life. I only hope that you will let me be a part of it. Sorry I couldn't tell you in person.
George sat at the table weeping an din disbelief. "She wanted me," he kept saying over and over to himself. "She wanted me." He needed to go somewhere that he could think. The first place he thought of was the coffee shop.
He walked in, smelling that sweet smell again that hit him every time he opened the door. As he searched the room to find a table, he found a young lady sitting where Meredith had been sitting. The lady sat at the table looking around the room as if she wished she wasn't alone. As he walked, getting closer and closer, he was startled by the fact that the woman looked exactly like Meredith. Wait a minute. Was he hallucinating, or was her death some awful dream?
The only way he could know the truth was to approach this mysterious woman although he was afraid and unsure of what the result would be. He made his way to the table, standing over the woman. She looked at him with a look of sudden confusion and asked him to join her. He knew as soon as she spoke; this wasn't Meredith. Who was she then?
"My name is George Kasey."
"I am Melody."
"Yes. Excuse my appearance. I must be an awful sight."
"No. Why would you say that?"
"You see, I lost my twin sister last night in an automobile accident. I hadn't spoken to her in quite some time, so today hasn't been such a great day."
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