By E. A. Sauer
W: 2,695 T: 19m Rating: Moderate
Staring at the black coffee he left behind I tried to imagine our future. No matter the cruel twist of fate that brought us here, we couldn’t go through with what he suggested.
I never imagined life could become so convoluted. Beau suggested we take a cross-country road trip because “we’d been swamped with work and we should get out to see the country.” I should’ve seen through his lies. He burst at the seems when we sat down in the diner. He told me how sorry he was, and how horrible it must be for me. Without taking a breath he suggested we move away from our hometown and start our life over, together.
Of course, there was always something more to us. It was never plain and simple. There was something within me that pulled him in as if he was created simply to complete me. I could feel it too but it wasn’t as easy as just falling in love. We grew up together, we know everything about each other. Every embarrassing moment and every detail of each heartbreak. There’s a restricted intamacy there that must not be overstepped.
But the moment those words left his lips, everything fell into place. Our attraction to each other wasn’t terrifying, it was glorious. But just as quickly as those thoughts crossed my mind, my world crashed down around me.
Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about Beau’s smile, the strange way he was holding my hand, the chemistry between us; it felt natural and equally sickening…
“Warm up?” a voice sparked me from the void I’d spiraled, “miss?” the boy chided.
I looked up from the black coffee to meet the blue eyes of a teenage boy.
“…Sure.” I said preoccupied with Beau.
He slowly poured the black lava filling the cup to the brim, rivers of brown spilled, overfilling the small plate.
“Shit, I’m sorry.” he sputtered grabbing a dirty rag from his back pocket.
He wiped the plate down, soaking up the liquid, and set it back on the table. A judgmental chuckle escaped my throat. Blushing he leaned back over to take the plate away.
“No you’re okay, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to laugh,” I said with a warm smile, flashing back to my many years as a waitress.
“I’m really sorry, my head just isn’t screwed on today.” he took the plate.
“Some days are just like that, don’t let it get to you.” picking up my coffee I asked, “how long have you worked here?”
“Since my dad died.” With the apathetic tone of a teenage boy.
Bewilderment spread across my face but before I could mask it, he cut me off.
“Shit, sorry. That’s bleak.” he looked down fiddling with the plate.
“How long ago?”
“A few months. Figured I’d try to help my mom out.”
“Is it just you two?”
“Ya at home. My sister was out East.”
“Somewhere in North Carolina, she never liked it here.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I said thinking how to end the conversation when he sat down in Beau’s seat
“It’s okay. No one likes it here.” he looked up at me puzzled, “why are you here? I don’t recognize you.”
“That small of a town, huh?” I mused.
“You don’t even know.” He sighed.
I sipped my coffee.
“So. How old are you?” I said breaking the silence.
“Fifteen. How old are you?” he asked.
It amused me how unphased he was by his blunt demeanor.
“When’s your birthday?”
I considered him for a moment, “October 17.”
“Oh, my sister’s is September 29th.” He looked away.
“So what’s your sister’s name?” I asked, wondering how long this boy would sit here. Long enough for me to forget?
“Kayla.” He said with a half smile.
“Yeah. What’s yours? I’m Tommy.” He stopped fiddling with the plate in favor of the salt dispenser.
“That’s a weird name…” He glanced at me as he trailed off.
“It’s okay, I like that your blunt and it’s a family name.”
“My mom says it’s why I get in so much trouble, she says if I were more like Kayla, people would like me more.”
“Eh, you’ll be okay, I say things people don’t like too. I’m doing just fine.” Or I was until twenty minutes ago.
“You know my brother is a goody-goody like Kayla. Our parents said something similar to me too. I think you just need to do what you feel is right, ya know?”
“People who are nice all the time are so lame!” he said boastfully.
“They definitely can be,” my heart began to sink thinking about him, “but you know, I always found him endearing. My brother could get along with anyone he met and was always thinking of others before himself, to include me. I think sometimes there are people in your life who are meant to be more to you than you ever intended, ya know?”
Puzzled, he stared at me.
“He was always my biggest advocate, telling me I could be more than I ever thought I could be.” I started to feel self-conscious, but continued trying to help him connect the dots. “We’re only two years apart. I think we just had a deeper connection than most siblings…” I said softly looking out the window.
“My sister was never really around.” he explained.
“Sometimes there’s a reason people aren’t prevalent in our lives.”
He slowly looked up at me, losing focus on the spinning container, the salt poured across the table.
“Quick!” I got excited, “take a little and throw it over your left shoulder!”
The lady in the booth behind him gave me a dirty look.
“Quick do it!” I yelled, disregarding the woman.
He threw a pinch of salt over his shoulder sarcastically, “Okay…”
“Good, you blinded the devil! If you didn’t he’d have followed you around causing mayhem.”
“Google it.” I said sipping my coffee.
Laughing at me he used his hand to scoop the salt into the dispenser.
I chuckled, shaking my head at him.
“Seriously?! What’s wrong with me?” he put his head on the table.
Our laughter prompted a waitress to come around the corner to investigate the racket. She shook her head when she saw Tommy sitting at my table. I waved her off, it was nice not thinking about Beau.
“Okay, let me teach you a thing or two. First off, never use a rag to clean something customers eat off.” I said pointedly, he rolled his eyes again.
“Thanks.” he said dryly.
“Second, go get me two pieces of printer paper.”
“There’s that much you’re going to teach me? I did do the training.”
“Clearly, not.” I looked up at him, smirking.
Rolling his eyes, he disappeared into the kitchen.
Momentarily, the weight of Beau’s conversation didn’t rest on my shoulders. But just as quickly as Tommy distracted me, fury and confusion surged through me once more. Replaying everything he said, I sat feeling numb and lost. He just held my hand and told me it would all be okay. That we could truly love each other the way we were destined.
I felt so betrayed when he revealed the purpose of our trip. He told me about a phone call he received. He wanted to confirm the story first, which is why he didn’t tell me. When he did confirm it, he knew I’d have a tough time.
“Tough time”, that’s what he said, like this was something I had control over. I haven’t even begun to comprehend his words, knowing the devastation it’d cause within me.
“Hello…? Daisy!” Tommy slapped his hand on the table.
I jumped back in the booth.
“What?” momentarily forgetting where I was.
“Sorry Tommy, I’m just lost in my thoughts.” Shaking the thoughts from my head I took the paper from his hand.
I needed more time before I could begin to deal with this.
“Okay dude take a seat. What do you think I’m going to do with this paper?”
“A magic trick?” his satire was only rivaled by mine.
I bopped him on the head with the paper.
“Look I turned you into a dummy.”
“Oh, good one.” he squinted his eyes.
“No, take one piece of paper and hold it just above the table. With the other piece, hold it so it’s stiff, and scoop the salt that’s not touching the table onto the other piece of paper.” I said maneuvering the salt into the center of the paper.
“Then…” I paused manipulating the paper into a funnel, “voila!” I said pouring the salt into the container.
“That was the big trick?”
“I never said it was a trick, just that I’d teach you a thing or two.”
Screwing the top back on the salt shaker, he paused. Smirking, he stood up to dump the salt into the trash, taking a pinch to throw over his shoulder.
“Ha! For someone who picks up on things pretty quick, you must not have been paying attention to your so-called training.” raising my eyebrows I pursed my lips to the side.
“Oh, I was paying attention, just not to the training.” He motioned to a young girl organizing condiments on the table. “That’s Lisa, she trained me.” he said smirking.
She was unmistakably attractive. I watched as she flitted around the diner helping customers, delivering food, and cleaning messes with a smile on her face.
“She’s cute.” I said nodding my head, waiting for him to add more.
“She’s not just cute, she’s the hottest girl in the sophomore class. And she’s down to Earth.”
“Is that so?” I smiled at him, young love was the purest entity in the world.
Nothing compared to that sense of wonderment. The imagination, the possibility, the itch.
“So I’m guessing you’ve never actually talked to her?” I said poking fun at the typical stereotypes of high school boys.
“She wishes, I hit on her every day! Hey Lisa!” Winking he pointed handguns at her.
“Oh dear lord!” my eyes widened trying not to bust out laughing.
Lisa rolled her eyes and pointed at the clock.
“Shouldn’t you take the hint and get back to work?” I said.
“I’ve been off for twenty minutes.” He said, “You… you just looked shook when that guy left, I thought some more coffee and a distraction would be good for you.”
I sat, staring at this fifteen-year-old boy, wondering if I was that aware at his age or if I had any understanding of what other people were going through.
“Sorry if that’s over-stepping…” he half smiled at me.
“No, Tommy you’re fine… He just shared some information with me I wasn’t prepared for… at all” I said pulling at the brunette braid that fell to my hip.
“Did he break up with you?”
I looked up at him, “What makes you think we were together?”
“I dunno, you’re just magnetic I guess. Seemed natural to assume. You don’t look alike. I don’t know. Just what I thought.” he could sense my unease, but kept rambling, “he just seemed to take care of you… until he left that is. Where did he go?”
I wasn’t about to get into the details of the staggering revelation he shared with me.
”Uh… he told me to wait here he was going to get someone.”
“You’ve no idea… It’s more than weird…” for some reason I continued, “ We’re meant to be together. I truly believe we’re soulmates, but it goes against nature.”
He was leaning against the opposing booth at this point, watching me muddle through my humanity.
“I don’t know anything about love, but it seems to me that there isn’t any type of love that goes against nature. Take your own advice, just do what feels right, it’ll all work out. My ride is here though.” He gave me finger guns as he walked to the door, “best of luck!” he called back to me.
I turned in my booth to say goodbye when I saw Beau walking in with a woman. He looked at me causing my heart to race as fear flooded through me.
Tommy went to give the woman a high five, she whispered something in his ear. He shrugged his shoulders and went out to their car. Beau and the woman walked up to my booth.
“Daisy…” Beau took a breath unable to speak.
He sat down next to me and the woman awkwardly stood over us before she sat down on the opposite bench. Their silence was deafening.
“Hi, I’m Marissa. I know this is sudden, but I’ve been trying to find you.” I froze, unsure what to say. There was no way this was actually happening. Everything she knew, everything she recognized slowly slipping away.
“I believe I’m your mother.” I heard her words but couldn’t comprehend them. “Daisy… my husband… your father… he.. well…” she started to tear up.
“Daisy, there was a mix up when you were a baby. Her husband picked up the wrong baby from the babysitters’ house. Marissa was out of town for a month when it happened. He was so ashamed when he realized… they were on the verge of divorce… she didn’t think he was a fit parent…” Beau couldn’t finish his any of his thoughts.
I didn’t care how hard this was for them, everything went red. My entire life was being turned inside out.
“Not a fit parent?! IF, and this is a BIG IF, any of this is true, why the hell did you leave me alone with him?!”
“Daisy, she didn’t, Marissa’s mother was staying at the house with you and Marissa’s husband… your biological father. But there was an emergency with your grandfather… and your father was at work… so your grandmother took you to a friends house, who was watching two other children. In a rush to get to the hospital, he… he made a mistake.”
“A mistake?!?” I exclaimed. This wasn’t something that happened in real life.
You don’t just pick up the wrong baby. “And no one knew?! What about mom and dad?! They didn’t recognize they had the wrong child?! ” I yelled.
People were looking but I didn’t care. Beau’s worried but calm affect was almost too much to handle.
“I don’t know Daisy, I wish we could ask them.” Beau glanced at Marisa.
She looked at him wearily, “What do you mean you wish you could ask them?”
Sheepishly, Beau wrang his hands together.
“They died. Like eight years ago, in a car accident in North Carolina.” I said curtly. “They’ve never even been here! We’ve never left Creekville! This isn’t possible!”
The entire diner was silent.
“Daisy, our family is from Creekville. After the accident happened my husband put in for transfer with his work. He couldn’t live with the guilt. We’ve lived here ever since.”
“What the hell took so long?! How do you even know this? Where is your husband?”
“He died a few months ago. He told our daughter, Kayla, when she turned 18. Apparently…” she got choked up.
Beau started up, “Daisy, do you remember the accident with mom and dad? The person who hit them?”
“Yea, that drunk driver from out of town.”
Marissa sobbed and Beau stared at me, blankly.
“Daisy…” he said.
“What?!” I said harshly.
His eyes widened cautioning me. Mouthing ‘what’ back to him, it hit me.
Oh. Oh God no.
“It… was your daughter.” I said slowly, staring at Marissa.
I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to react to that information. Suddenly, my pain and loss were compounded by knowing that pain was never mine to have. Aimlessly, I looked out the window as what remained of me ceased to exist.
Tommy caught my eye as he by played air drums in his mother’s car, he looked up noticing his mother sitting at my booth. Confused, he opened the car door and walked into the diner.
“What’s going on?” Tommy asked.
Marissa started bawling.
“Tommy, meet my brother… Beau.. and apparently, my mother Marissa.”