As I stared out into the beautiful nothingness, I thought about my day. I started off my morning by going to my local coffee shop. I go there almost every day because how could I survive without my daily large Americano, no cream? She wasn’t the usual old lady that memorized my order. She was young, elegant, and had the smile of a beloved queen. She greeted me like no other person has greeted me before. A smile was swirling deep inside me that almost broke through the surface before she looked beyond me. She wasn’t talking to me, she was talking to her good friend who had just walked through the door behind me. For a moment, I felt joy. I felt hope. That was gone in an instant.
“Hey hun, what can I get for you?”
“Hi uh let me see, what do I want today?… you know what whatever is your favorite I’ll take that,” I said with a big smile.
I notice her eyes light up like Christmas lights when it hits November 1st. She gives me a warm smile and an excited giggle as she starts preparing my drink.
“How long have you been working here?”
“This is actually my first day. Can’t you tell?” She laughed a little too hard at herself because she spilled the almond milk everywhere.
“That explains it. I come here every day and have never seen you. I’ve tried almost everything on that menu so I hope you are getting creative.”
“Trust me, I am,” she said as she turned her full attention to the drink.
As I waited for my drink, I sat on one of the four top tables next to the window with huge strawberry-red curtains, kind of like the beautiful barista’s cheeks. I have a weird feeling about her, something about her feels different.
“I’m actually finished. I hope you like it!”
“Let’s see…” I take a sip pursing my lips to pretend I’m taking a minute to taste it.
“It’s great. Could use better flavor, maybe vanilla.” I say with a sarcastic smile.
“But seriously it’s one of the best drinks I have had” as I took a fake sip again to not make it obvious that I’m lying.
“Thank you,” she said blushing.
“So how much will that be?”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s on me”
“Are you sure? Come on, at least a tip.”
“No I’m good, I had fun making it, and if you like it so much. It’s my treat”
“Can I at least have the name of the pretty and now generous barista?”
“Eleana,” she said with a giggle reaching her hand out to shake mine.
I grabbed her hand and an electric shock went through my body making butterflies arise in my stomach. “Eleana, pretty name for a pretty face.”
She blushes and giggles again releasing my hand.
“Until next time, Eleana.”
“Wait, your name,” she yelled as I start walking out the door.
“Until next time,” and the door slams.
I rise from the dock and start walking through the woods. I didn’t make a huge mess this time so I can walk in public freely. As I’m making my way through I start to hear the sound of cars driving fast down a road. I don’t have a vehicle of my own although that would be convenient for me. So I stop on the side of the road and wait for someone who would be stupid enough to stop their car to help a stranger. It took longer than usual but after a couple of minutes, I saw a woman slowing down her car and flashing her lights. As she approaches, I notice a familiarity within her eyes and features. She’s the barista. She gets out of her car and says “look who it is, no name man. I think this is next time.” I let out a big laugh.
So fast forward a bit and I’m in her car. We are talking, laughing, listening to music and you know the normal things people do in a car. She was so eccentric yet elegant. She made me forget about my day. The funny thing was I never even told her where to take me. We were just driving. I find it a bit odd that she was just driving endlessly with a complete stranger that she picked up off the road. I could be a murderer for all she knew. For some odd reason, she is the first person that I have spent more than five minutes with and didn’t want to decapitate their head. I enjoyed her presence. Finally, she asked me where I was headed.
“505 Hollow Road. It’s not too far just make the next left and drive straight for about two miles until you an old blue house.”
“Wait… you live there?” she said very timidly.
I could tell her demeanor completely changed. She was scared. Like she just let a murderer in her car. I knew why. My parents, my sister, and I all lived there together for almost my whole life. Not anymore (bet you could guess why). Once they “left” everyone started making very judgemental rumors about my family. She probably heard the stories. I don’t want her to be scared of me.
“No, I’m house-sitting for the man that lives there. He’s kind of creepy but I never have to see him so I’m fine with it. It’s good money” I replied.
“Oh thank god,” I could feel the anxiety release from her body.
“That house. That family. The stories. Ever since I was a little girl it has spooked me. My friends and I would sometimes walk by that house on our way to school and the mother would be standing by the window just staring. She never spoke. Never waved. There was one time we heard screaming coming from the house. And she was still standing by the window, staring. To this day I cannot get her image out of my head. I feel like it haunts me. I know it’s terrible but I was sort of happy to hear of her passing four years ago.”
I let out a laugh and she started laughing too. Except she was laughing because she thought what she said was so ridiculous. Yet I was laughing because of those screams she heard. Let’s just say I could have caused that. In my defense I told my sister not to scream, she was never a good listener.
When we finally approached my house, the tension in the car began to rise. I noticed her hands turn white from gripping the steering wheel so hard. I don’t plan on hurting her. I like her too much. So I asked her to come inside for some coffee. She surprisingly agrees and we enter the house. She seemed excited. When she agreed she stared deep into my eyes and grabbed my arm as she nodded. I think my heart actually melted.
“So how long have you been staying here?” she asked, looking around curiously.
“Only one night. I don’t spend too much time here though because like I said it’s creepy.”
“I can’t believe I’m actually here. I would have nightmares about being in this house and my dreams are actually scary accurate. I can’t believe you agreed to do this alone.”
We make it to the kitchen and she sits. I never actually make coffee but I guess since that’s what I said I gotta make coffee. I get so nervous around her and I just end up saying whatever. Every time she looks at me, I get these butterflies that make my stomach turn. I don’t like it. But yet I don’t want to get rid of it. I don’t wanna get rid of her. I reach up to the cabinet and grab two mugs. I walk to the pantry and grab some coffee beans that are probably old and set them by the mug. I bend down to the drawer by the island in the kitchen to get out the coffee maker; I plug it in, get some water, and beans and begin to make the coffee. As I turned around to look at her to see if she wanted anything to eat, she stared at me very intently.
“So you have only stayed here one night?” she said, looking away at the window seal.
“Yep. I got here last night then went on a walk this morning and that’s where you found me.”
Her gaze comes back to me with a sparkle of fear in her eyes, “Then how do you know where everything is?”
Shit. I stare back at her not knowing what to say. She’s making me even more nervous now. She directs her gaze back to the window seal. Staring at it with tears in her eyes.
“Why are you in this photo?” pointing to a family picture that was placed along the window seal.
“That’s my family. I brought it here cause I bring it everywhere. My family is very important to me, I love them too much.” I replied, stepping closer to her.
She winced, pushing her body back into the chair not looking at me.
“It’s her.” she says, staring at the photo. She brought her eyes back to me and timidly expressed “That’s… her.”
She tries to let out a scream before I lunge at her covering her mouth, “I didn’t want to do this.”
Everywhere was just so far. How am I supposed to dispose of the body if I’m too lazy to carry her within more than a 1-mile radius? That’s how I ended up at this lake. I watched as her body started to sink to the bottom. A bunch of fish starts poking at his flesh making her go down faster. Within fifteen seconds, I could no longer see her body. Now I’m kinda sad. I miss her. I have the same feeling every time this happens. I feel like I have to mourn. Grieve the life lost. So that is what I will do.
The air was cool. The water sound. The sky was as grey as some of my hair. I sat on the dock while I replayed the memories of the last few hours in my head. I thought to myself… Why? Why her? It’s funny how one person can change the whole course of the day, maybe even your life in just one simple moment. I thought this was that moment. My brain wasn’t even trying to figure it out. I was just numb. My feet were literally numb from dangling them down in the water.
Was that grief? I feel like every time people talk about grief they always talk about their guilt. What if they did something differently, would the outcome be different? I think I should get A+ for my effort. Caring is just not really my thing. I mean, neither is life. You can’t grieve death if you love death.