Jul 31, 2020 2:22:14 GMT -6
Post by insanity on Jul 31, 2020 2:22:14 GMT -6
Life was a funny thing, Laila mused as she sat in some little, hole-in-the-wall cafe, holding her tea cradled to her chest as she stared out of the window, watching all the people pass her by. How very much she cared for each and every living person out there, and how little they all cared for themselves. She saw the business workers who moved quickly, looking worn out already despite the early hour. She saw the over-night workers, who were dragging themselves home after long, arduous hours that killed their feet, knees, and spine. She wished beyond all reason that she could help them all, but she was one woman. She couldn't do anything more than wish them a better tomorrow. Her tea seeped warmth into her bones as she sipped from it. Even as she wished she could help ease the burden of others, her laptop sat before her, the code on it compiling. It took time, and she used that time to relax. It was peaceful, to her. Just her and the workers, with the occasional odd customer coming in, even though only a few lingered for more than the time it took for their orders to be completed. Even they sat quietly in corners, far from her, minding their own business and seeming to also bask in the peace of it all. It was such a niche place, and she got the sense that she might like to come here more. Bring a book some mornings, read and drink tea while her laptop worked away on whatever task she'd been assigned.
It drew her attention when the bell above the door tingled, telling her that another customer had walked in. The lady behind the counter grinned brightly, happy, and greeted the man who walked in, but Laila seemed to have frozen. Her mind flashed back to a chance meeting seven years prior, when she had been just a junior in college. It flashed to a sad man who worried about his impending death and what school to send children to. One who probably, from what she understood of him, didn't have seven years of life left in him when they'd met. One who had been so accepting of his own lot in life because really, what else was he supposed to do. A man who had changed her life with just a few hours of conversation. Unbidden, and somewhat startling, she felt tears rise in her eyes, and she quickly put down her tea because that man was alive. She had left that day feeling so upset for him that he wouldn't live a full life because he was somehow, mysteriously, ill, even if she hadn't smelled a sickness in him.
She was nearly thirty now, and while she had certainly matured and changed, he didn't look different. Not even a little bit. She waited, taking a moment to compose herself, but listening to him place his order before she stood and turned to him. "Um, excuse me, sir... have we met before?" She almost patted herself on the back for how her voice only shook a little, but no... that man was unmistakable. He was distinctive, in appearance, yes, but she had always remembered him even beyond that because he was so much more than his skin. She had cherished each and every day, down to the second, of the last seven years, since their meeting, more than usual, in honor of the man she met one day by chance. She bit her tongue to keep herself from crying before he'd even had a chance to really recognize her.
She wore glasses now, when she hadn't before because the eye strain of looking at computer screens had gotten to her finally. She kept her hair longer, but tied up in an elegantly simple way. She had more lines on her face, from smiling and laughing and the stress of being a single foster mom for animals and children alike, even if she could often enlist the help of her dads... and he didn't look like he'd aged from the day they met. Unmistakable. Unforgettable. He even smelled the same... almost. There was certainly something different, but with the distance between them and the smell of tea, coffee, and pastries on the air, she had no way of actually knowing if that was him or the environment.
She hoped he recognized her. Hoped he remembered their meeting as fondly as she did. She may not have had such a major impact on his life as he had on hers, but she hoped it was enough that he didn't forget her. She got the feeling she'd be heartbroken if he forgot her. She had spent weeks after that meeting, just telling people she was thankful for them. To this day, she would call her dads at night as she prepared for sleep, just to check on them and remind them she loved them. Part of it was because of this man and his reminder that life was not necessarily eternal. The other part, although she'd never admit it out loud, was that she was scared they'd be hunted again, and the nightly check in proved they were safe. They wouldn't answer if they weren't safe, after all.