Two – Museless Writer

Coffee in London 4

The warm atmosphere engulfed my body the second I fully stepped into the shop, letting the door shut behind me. For a minute-second all eyes turned on me, curiosity twined in their eyes at the newcomer. Thankfully, their rapt attention shifted as the barista called an order, her voice breaking through the still silence of the room.

I let out a long breath and tugged my bag close to my body as a sense of familiarity and security. I made my way towards the counter, my steps lightly padding on the wooden floorboards. The barista gave me a sympathetic look as her eyes racked over my soaked body. Her eyes were warm pools of rich brown, like the color of a soft mocha cappuccino.

“What will you have dear?”

A blanket. It’s what I wanted most in the world right now. Instead I answered, “A cup of Irish coffee and,” my eyes racked over the glass counter and identified the pastry I wanted in an instant, “a slice of cheesecake.”

“American?” she asked.

I nodded as I dug out my wallet from my bag. “Yes. Is it obvious?”

She smiled. “Just a bit. No accent. And you don’t have an umbrella. It’s a dead giveaway.”

“And here I was trying to be as inconspicuous as I could.” I slid a Travelers check worth twenty on the counter towards her, but she covered her hand over mine, shaking her head.

“This one’s on the house.”

“Really?” I couldn’t believe it. Hospitality was practically extinct where I came from. Especially when it concerned strangers.

“Yes, really.” She patted my hand and drew back as she rang the tab on the old fashioned, rusted metal cash register. It made a musical ding that lifted my spirits.

Things looked brighter as I idly waited at the edge of the shop for my coffee. The rain pattered softly on the windowpane, giving of an air of peaceful tranquilly; the cacophony of voices, typing, and music twined together into a perfect symphony. My eyes traveled along the paneled wood walls covered in paintings and framed photographs. Every piece of art was different in its beauty, engraving the artist’s soul within the paper.

“Irish coffee and a slice of cheesecake.”

I turned my head and saw my cup of coffee freshly brewed on the countertop along with the delicious smelling cheesecake. Before I could thank the barista, who looked around my age, she turned back around and began to brew the next order.

The porcelain cup was hot against my skin as I wound my hand around its frame. Racking my eyes around the shop, I looked for an empty table. There were none. Every table was occupied with someone or something. A gray cat sat perched on the window seat, its tail flicking back and forth as its attention was solely on the boy sitting directly across from the window. He was alone, hunched over in his seat as he absentmindedly tapped his pencil on the table.

I looked around the room and saw two more available seats, but they did not look forthcoming. One was next to an old man who was picking food out of his gold tooth. The other was next to a woman who was loudly speaking on her phone, annoying the people around her with the shrill laugh that escaped her lips.

Without a second thought I made my way towards the boy, careful of my steps as to not spill my drink. He had to be better than my other options. Plus, there was no rule that I even had to talk to him. I could just sit with him and not say a word, sipping my cup of coffee like any other normal person.

“Is this seat taken?” I asked.

He roused from his reverie and looked up at me through black framed glasses. “No,” he said, sliding the papers that covered the surface to his left. “Go ahead.”

“Thank you.” I set my cup and plate down and dropped my bag next to my feet, settling across from him. He resumed staring down at a blank piece of paper as I twirled a spoonful of sugar into my cup. I breathed in the rich aroma of the cheesecake, and before I knew it I had devoured it completely. I even scrubbed the plate with a forefinger, eating every single last piece. No food would go to waste upon my watch.

My eyes wandered to the array of scribbled and crumpled pieces of pages on the table. They were all littered with a few sentences and then crossed off angrily before being crumpled into a useless mess.

A soft purr garnered my attention to the window where the gray cat’s green eyes looked at me. I cocked my head to the side and it mirrored my movement. It’s gaze was penetrating like it was reading into my soul. A rustling of papers caused the cat’s watch to flicker from me to the boy’s.

“Weird cat,” I muttered.

“Hmm?” He lifted his gaze from the blank sheet and met mine for a split second before flicking his attention to the cat. “Oh, yeah. That’s Gizmo. You’ll get use to him.”

His British accent made the corners of my lips lift into a smile. He saw and leaned his elbows on the table. “What?”

“Nothing.” I prayed with all my soul that I wasn’t blushing. He would probably think I was incompetent. “It just looks like you’ve got an admirer that’s all.”

He leaned back and looked around the room, trying to find who this ‘admirer’ could be. I sat back and watched in amusement as his face turned into a blank and confused canvas.

“You’re mistaken,” he said, brushing off my observation.

“Don’t think so,” I replied. He looked at me blankly, his blue eyes trying to read what I could possibly be thinking. I flickered my eyes to Gizmo, who stared at us as if we were the most interesting things he’d ever seen. No mouse toy could be a match for us.

He smiled, drawing two and two together. “He’s quite strange, isn’t he?”

“Just a little,” I said, sipping my cup.

“American?”

“That obvious, huh.”

He chuckled. “Noah Hart.” He extended his hand forward and I shook it.

“Shae Mitchell.”

Once our introductions were out of the way, Noah sank back into a quiet revere. I stared absentmindedly out the window, wondering when the rain would let up. At the same time, I let myself wonder about who the boy that sat in front of me was.

His eyes, they were the palest blue that I had ever seen. There was a small lift to his mouth as if he shared a secret with Gizmo, who had now taken the liberty to lay at his feet. The dark framed glasses hid the true nature of his eyes and I wondered, briefly, if his eyes were a deeper shade of blue – like the color of the sky on a clear summer day. His messy blond hair was the color of wheat stalks, at least, that’s what I imagined them to look like.

Noah never once glanced my way, his mind solely on the blank sheet of paper in front of him. His gaze seemed to say, ‘If I look at this hard enough words will suddenly appear.’ It was silly, but in all actuality it looked like he was waiting for something to stir his musing.

I was almost done with my coffee when I asked him, “What are you working on?”

He let out a resigned sigh. “I don’t even know.”

“Can I see?” I started forward, but drew my hand back in uncertainty. My fingers grazed the corners of sheets of paper, making them rustle with the movement.

“There’s nothing to see.”

“You’ve got something written down. All you need is a little bit of inspiration.”

The corners of his lips lifted into a non-comical smile. “Easier said than done.”

“What are you trying to write?” I was curious. There was something about Noah’s entire demeanor that suggested something deeper. Kind of like the art hanging on the walls of the room. He was an artist, but of an entirely different kind.

His mouth quirked up into a crooked smile. “Do you always do this?”

My brows furrowed in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Talk to strangers.”

“Not particularly. My mother always told me not to talk to strangers.”

“New country, new rules, eh?”

I smiled, taking the last sip of my coffee. “Something like that.” Setting down the mug, I reached forward and picked up a scrap piece of paper. Noah didn’t protest, instead he picked up Gizmo from his feet and set him on his lap. The cat purred in content as Noah stroke the place behind his ears.

His writing was indecipherable. Words were neatly scrawled on the page, but they was distorted by the inky scratched out lines, making it impossible to read what was written in the first place.

“You’re a writer?”

He shrugged. “Not a very good one.”

It was when he said those words that I got an idea. I was desperate. There was no doubt about that. Sophie had left me to venture Europe on my own, and I honestly did not want to see the world on my own. I was afraid, even though it was something that I told myself a million times not to be.

But here was Noah. A museless writer. I didn’t know much about art since there was no creative bone in my body. But I did love books. And if it’s something I’ve learned from books is that author’s write what they know, what they’ve experienced. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why Noah was having such a difficult time writing. He didn’t have any experiences to write. I just met him, but maybe he was like me. If it were me in his shoes I’d be at a total loss, just as he was. My life was boring. My mind on the other hand was hyperactive. I spent many long nights wishing for the Doctor to come and save me, taking me in his blue box and showing me the stars.

“Come with me,” I said. Noah looked up from Gizmo and gave me a puzzled look.

“What?”

It was too late to take my words back. My heart was roaring in my ears, unable to contain the excitement coursing in my veins.

“Come with me,” I repeated. “Come with me to see Europe. You need inspiration and I’m seeking adventure. It’s the perfect combination, don’t you think?”

He raised a perfectly arched eyebrow and lowered Gizmo slowly to the floor. The cat whined and complained, but Noah’s attention was focused solely on me.

“That’s a generous offer,” he said slowly, “but I’m going to have to take a rain check.”

My heart stopped in my chest and I slumped back in my seat. I felt incredibly foolish. I mean what was I thinking – that he would readily agree to go off with a stranger to backpack through Europe?

I sighed and got up from the table, slinging my bag over my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” I said sheepishly. “It was nice to meet you.”

“Wait,” he said. I halted in my steps and looked down at him. “Who are you going with on this adventure?”

I lifted my arms and let them fall at my sides all in the same second. “Just me.”

He mulled over my words and leaned an elbow on the table, running his thumb across his lips in thought. I didn’t know what to do. So I did the only thing I could. Leave.

I waved goodbye to Margie, the barista who so kindly had welcomed me, and walked out of the shop. The rain had lightened to a drizzle with the sky still a dull gray. Without a destination in mind I trudged forward in search of a taxi. I figured that I’d run into one eventually. It was London, after all; one of the tourist cities of the country.

I hadn’t gone a block before I heard my name.

“Shae!”

I stopped in my tracks and turned around. Noah was jogging towards me, his hair plastered to his forehead. A hand was neatly tucked to his side as he held his messenger back to his body.

“Hey,” he said, catching up to me. He was taller than I would have guessed, standing at nearly six feet, give or take. “Changed my mind.”

I hadn’t realized how disappointment I’d been when he turned down my invitation. His words lifted my spirits tenfold. I could hardly contain the smile that spread wildly on my lips.

“What changed your mind?”

He shrugged. A crooked smile lingered on his mouth. “You were right. I need inspiration.”

I raised my eyebrows and crossed my arms over my chest.

“Alright.” He held up his hands in mock surrender. “I couldn’t let you go off on your own. London is filled with pedophiles and muggers and as a gentleman of this state it’s my duty to accompany you on this journey of yours.”

I laughed. He couldn’t possibly be serious. Oh, but he was. His eyes hold my gaze and he stands up straighter in his stance. The laughter quickly died in my throat only for a smile to crack in his seamless façade.

“Unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head in bemusement. “So what’s the real reason?”

He took a step forward and I followed him. We walked shoulder to shoulder on the gray cobblestones with the silent pitter-patter of rain on the pavement.

“I couldn’t think of a better way,” he finally said after a few minutes of comfortable silence spread between us, “to find inspiration than to find it with a stranger.”

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5 Comments

  1. MORE. I loved this, and meeting Noah. I wish I could explain my expression with gifs, but not sure it works here.

    Reply
  2. OMG More please! Love it.

    Reply
  3. Aw! So sweet! 🙂

    Reply
  4. MY GOODNESS! Lovely as always! Ahhh, I love it, Emz!!! You should put it back to Wattpad! It’s going to hook more readers! haha I can’t WAIT for the adventure to begin! You better write more, missy, or I’m going to bug you! 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
  5. Oh my gosh this is so cute and thinking about possible scenarios makes me grin for no reason.

    Reply

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