Quietly sipping her raspberry Italian Soda, Madeleine turned her head in a jerky fashion toward the stairs every time she heard someone begin to ascend them. In the in between times when she wasn’t guarding the steps, she let her eyes and thoughts wander. The raised café let coffee-sippers and latte-drinkers see everything in the store. She watched the little girl with french braids roll around on the ground next to her mother in the travel section. A college student sat at the table across from her continuously flipping through his Calculus textbook. The cashier behind the counter rearranged the chocolate layer cakes and peanut butter cups. And in between each of the scenes, Madeline strained her head toward the stairs to her right hoping to see the only face that made her own light up.
Madeleine had never been the best student in high school, simply because of her tragic flaw of daydreaming, which she counted as a blessing. All it took was one slip of interest and she was somewhere that no one could bring her back from. No one could stare so intently at a dollop of whipped cream as Madeleine found herself doing as she continued to wait. She let herself drift so far that she began second guessing the whole situation. What if he never comes? What if it was all a joke? Why would he do this to me?
In the midst of her game of twenty questions she failed to notice the pair of Nike tennis shoes that had wandered up the stairs and walked to the chair across from her. Tyler sat down in front of her and let his keys drop un subtly onto the table. He saw Madeleine’s eyelashes flinch secretively, but she showed no other signs of acknowledgment. He began running his car keys under his fingernails, the keys to the car that would take him half way across the country to a university tomorrow at seven a.m.
What if I never see him again? No, Madeleine, stop it. He’ll come, you know he will.
Tyler gave in to his better judgement and began to speak, though the person he needed to be listening was not.
“Madeleine” he hesitated with a sigh.
What if he’s already left? I’m sure he’s already left, even if he hasn’t would you actually tell him something like that? That’s just ridiculous, Maddie. She continued to stare unknowingly into the box of air in front of her eyes.
“Madeleine, I know we haven’t had the greatest friendship, and it’s been pretty rough when we tried to make it more.”
Could I really tell him? And him believe me?
“I’ve tried and tried continuously to have you content with me, but it never worked.”
I’ve got to, haven’t I? I mean, he’s leaving tomorrow. Wait. Maybe if I tell him, he’ll stay.
“I’m leaving tomorrow morning no matter what goes on here today,”
He’s got to believe me, hasn’t he? And he’ll stay. Of course he will.
But I just want you to know that I love you.”
Madeleine’s thoughts still chased each other around her head and Tyler stared at her sullenly waiting patiently for the response he desired, or any response at all. But she continued to stare. He let the only tear he possessed slip from his eye as he gathered his keys, paused standing, and then made his way out the door.
Madeleine’s thoughts stopped abruptly when she thought she heard keys jingling beside her. Okay, I’ll tell him.
She slipped out of her delirium and continued her habit of turning her head back and forth between the steps and the people around her, waiting with a smile to tell him that she loved him.