I was seventeen when I first saw Jacklyn Rivers. I recall it was an unsettlingly temperate day, one of the notable oddities in that particularly capricious New England winter. My aunt Lydia had just dropped me at the local public library under the presumption I would be working there late on a Latin assignment two weeks overdue, but I had never set foot in that library and housed no intentions whatsoever of exploring it that day much less any other. I, in the thick of my rebellious teen years, instead chose to walk down the block to my favorite coffee shop, “The Honeybee Café.” The best thing about “The Honeybee Café” was how blissfully awake the shop was, a gratifying refreshment from the sluggish, drawling streets of Merrimer. Cars and street walkers, smothered by swollen down coats and stuffed, woolen gloves, pumped through the streets drowsily, lethargically, like a thick, rimy blood down through its ice-encrusted artery. The snug ambience of my hideaway fit flesh with the swelling chatter of its customers and the clinking of their handcrafted teacups. When I stepped through those steamy un=oiled doors, the pure aliveness of the place rushed through me like oxygen into my lungs, and I could breathe. Here though, I most importantly could see them. I could sit down with my over-priced, over flavored drink, and observe what others passed as the commonplace corner table, but I could almost picture them here. I saw a young woman with tousled rich brown hair and soft emerald eyes nestled inside that shadowy little crook, an old soul who lit up pictures and laughed in the rain; someone who wore coats that were too big over clothes that didn’t match and called it “urban chic” with a smile like the sun and a voice like the whispering autumn woods. A fair lady who’s kisses could melt even the bitterest people like candlesticks with the heat of her bleeding heart. And with her sat a man, tall, lanky, and unshaven; he drank his coffee black with no sugar, and stared at the woman like she were the blossom he’d found tucked between the pavement cracks of a plastic city. Together their gazes intertwined and fused, hers green and twinkling and his an earthy cobalt blue that mused upon her through the rims of wide charcoal glasses. And they there they sat, tucked away in that little corner table, a picture suspended in the clasps of time of this little café, mine.
And so it was natural that I sat as far as I could from this table, but never too far as though I may lose sight of its ghostly splendors. I was like the wolf to the fire, forever wary, but captivated by its dances, its dare.