By: Aglaheth Zaragoza
Her eyes met mine again and I felt my sheltered heart shake. Her eyes were red and her face rosy. She looked so miserable and broken. Whatever it is was that was making her cry this much must be really bad.
“Please wait outside.” Her voice was a bit rough as she spoke and it was because she had been crying. I’d say that she even screamed a bit. She cleared her throat and looked back down. Her shoulders hunched and she curled herself into an even smaller ball. She really didn’t want me to be here.
I want to help so badly though. I just don’t know how to cheer her up. And even if I tried she might end up getting offended.I don’t like seeing people so miserable. I live to see people smile and laugh. To forget about their worries long enough to relax.
Either way I still stood up and stepped back to the entrance to walk out.
But on second thought. I poked my head in and she glared at me. I rose my hands in surrender and gave her a soft smile. She looked like she didn’t believe that I was genuinely concerned.
“Look, I just want to know what you prefer. Strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate?”
“What?” She looks so adorable. Wait. What am I even saying?
“Just tell me what you prefer please and I’ll leave you alone.” Her eyebrows rose in question but she didn’t refuse to meet my gaze. Ay, little progress but it’s something.
“Great. Thanks.” She ignored me and shut her eyes blocking out the world for a bit. I quietly walked away and head to the path that would lead me back to the building. I just hope she’s still there when I come back.
It was a nice sunny afternoon. Not too cold or too hot for October. I glimpsed some of the workers from my parents company and did my best to avoid them. Not many of them liked me but you know, I don’t particularly care. I wasn’t sent here to please everyone.
Many of them were rude and arrogant. Like yeah, you work for one of the best companies in the world but it gives them no right to treat other people like crap. I’m the son of the people who own it and they don’t see me flaunting status or money around. We’re all the same. Having a little more money shouldn’t change a thing.
This is one of the main reasons I hate going. I moved away from my parents and rented out a decent sized apartment. I had an ok car that rarely broke down for it’s age and I’m happy with my independence. I like working hard for my money. One day I would inherit the company, but for now I just wanted to enjoy my job of teaching photography to curious children and teens.
I couldn’t personally make photography my job so I had to find a way around the demands my parents had. They were pissed but they quickly let it go. Like I said, they don’t really care. But it’s fine.
I finally made it to the crazy street and waited for the crosswalk. I was not about to go back to that damn building. I crossed the street with a swarm of people that only rendered a few beeps from annoyed drivers.
I head to the place that helped me eat or drown my sorrows. No, it’s not a bar. The door chimed as I walked in. It smelled so good. Oh yes! It’s not packed. A few of the tables had people eating waffles or drinking coffee even if it was a little late in the afternoon.
Sweetened Hearts. The best diner in this city. They also served breakfast all day long and were open 24 hours 6 days a week which is great since I tend to make a habit of a midnight snack that’s actually waffles. On Sundays though, they have a half day to avoid having their employees spent from working long shifts.
I walked to the counter and sat at one of the navy blue stools. I didn’t have to ring a bell. The owner spotted me the second I walked in.
“Arian! How are you sweetie?” Her warm smile had me feeling loved.
“Hey Rhea. I’m doing fine. How are you and Bailey?” Her smile grew and she walked to my side of the counter and pulled me into a hug.
“We’re doing just fine hun. You want your usual?” She walked back around and leaned against the counter. Her sunny disposition reminded so much of Van. She was so sweet and Bailey was a great man.
They were kind of like my grandparents. Or that is what they like telling everybody. I don’t mind though. I like having them as grandparents because I never met mine.
“No Rhea. I’m just here for a chocolate shake. And the best one you can make.”
“Changing it up I see.”
“More or less.” She winked and started making it. She came back with a beautiful chocolate shake. “Uh, I kind of forgot to tell you that it’s to go. I’m sorry Rhea.”
“Oh Arian. You don’t even have to worry. I have enough glasses to spare this one. Take some cookies too darling.” She walked to the cookie display and came back with a tiny bag with about six cookies. I walked to her side of the corner and hugged her as I kissed her cheek.
She laughed and ruffled my hair.
“Thanks Rhea, you’re the best.”
“No worries Arian. Come back soon sweetie.” I grinned cheekily and sent her a wink after placing down money that she would later yell at me for.
“Anything for you. I’ll see you soon and please tell Bailey I said hello.”
She nodded goodbye and went to the back. I walked out with the milkshake in hand and went to the busy crosswalk. I stuffed the closed bag of cookies in my suit jacket and kept walking. I was very careful to not spill or damage the masterpiece that Rhea had made for me. She really loved her job. It’s nice that her place is still up and running after they opened up so many new ones.
The folks here really love Bailey and Rhea’s cooking. The milkshakes and cheesecake were to die for. I won’t even start with the waffles. I’m telling you, masterpiece.
I carefully made my way through the path and quickly passed through the cave entrance. I pulled out the cookie bag and held it in my hand.
She’s still crying. Not as loud as before but she’s still doing it. I shuffled my feet so she wouldn’t get scared and she let out a really heavy sigh.
“You’re back.” Her arms were still hiding her head. She didn’t even want to look up. She sounded tired and annoyed with me but I just let it go.
“Quick question.” She hummed letting me know that I could ask. “Are you by any chance allergic to anything?”
“No.” Oh thank god. I was scared that she was allergic to the bits of peanut’s Rhea adds as a finishing touch to the milkshakes.
“Why w-?” She stopped speaking as soon as she looked at me. Her eyes widened in disbelief. She actually stood up and wiped herself off to really look at me. She wiped her cheeks and crossed her arms.
“Here you go.” I handed her the milkshake and cookies and her hands shook as she grabbed them.
“You bought me a milkshake and cookies? An actual chocolate shake? W-what’s wrong with you?”
Ok, I’m a little hurt by her response but I mean I guess.
“You know, most people would say thank you.” Her eyes shone with shame and she looked away.
“You’re right. I’m sorry for being so rude. I have no reason to take my problems out on you. Thank you for the milkshake and cookies, they both look really good.” Her sniffles quieted and she transferred the cookies to the hand that was holding the milkshake.
“You’re welcome.” She stuck her hand out to shake and I took it. Her hand is so soft and smooth. Her fingers were delicate but she had a firm grip.
“I’m A-anelle. Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to help a stranger that was really ungrateful.” I smiled and let go of her hand. I crossed my arms and took a step back.
“I’m Arian and it’s no problem. Everyone has their days and I respect that. Like I said, I’m here if you need me even if you don’t really want to talk. Anyway, I hope you like the milkshake. If you do like it and want another, head over to Sweetened Hearts. Rhea will make you one. Let her know that I sent you there.” I turned around after nod and walked out. I only took a step and stopped when her arm touched my back.
“Please, let me know how I could repay your kindness.” Her violet eyes sparkled and her sadness cleared for a couple seconds.
“It’s not something that should be repaid. I just hope you feel better soon. Allow yourself to cry and let someone know your pain. More than one person may understand what you are feeling.” I pulled out a pen and asked for the cookie bag.
She didn’t question me she just curiously looked on. I wrote down my number and handed it back to her.
“What is it?”
“It’s my number. If you ever need someone to just talk then give me a call. I’m all ears. I’ll see you around and I hope you will be able to laugh soon.” I turned and walked out with her soft spoken gratitude following me out. I was a few steps away when I heard her squeal in delight.
Yup. She totally just fell in love with Rhea’s milkshake. If she ever does go to the diner which she will, she better try the waffles.