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January 3, 2024

He’s beautiful. 

It’s the first thing I notice; I can’t help it. I know that’s not what you’re supposed to notice first when meeting somebody. Whenever doting husbands or loving wives get asked, “What’s the first thing you noticed about your partner?”, the answer is always socially acceptable. “Her eyes sparkled and lit up the whole room!” “He was hilarious. Made me laugh almost immediately, and I’ll tell ya, it’s hard to make me laugh.” 

But I don’t think he has sparkling eyes—in fact, I couldn’t even tell you their color because it’s not my main focus. I don’t think he’s funny, either—he hasn’t said anything yet. How would I know if he’s funny?

But he is gorgeous. Just beautiful. The kind of beauty you only see on celebrities’ faces in the movies. The kind of beauty you know isn’t realistic; chances are, you’ll never see a real person who looks like that. I know I never expected to. 

I stare at him without saying a word. What am I supposed to say? What do you say to a person with a face like that? 

“You’ve been here for hours,” he says plainly. He doesn’t smile or anything; I swallow. 

“So?” 

“You’ve been sitting here for nearly six hours and haven’t eaten a thing.”

“How would you know?” 

“Because I keep walking through this building, and you haven’t moved an inch. And I know you haven’t left to get food while I was gone, because your coffee cup is in the same position it was a few hours ago.” 

I eye the ceramic cup, empty.

“What’s it to you?” Talking to him with an attitude like this doesn’t feel right. But talking to him kindly wouldn’t feel right either. The only thing that would feel right would be staring at him wordlessly. 

“I’m pretty sure food is important,” he sighs, tilting his head to the side a fraction of an inch. 

“I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself.” 

“If we’re judging on your ability to feed yourself, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about that.” 

With that, he places a glazed muffin down on the side table next to me. There are blueberries in it, or maybe chocolate chips. Two of them are formed to look like beady eyes. 

“What’s this?” 

He pauses. “A muffin. You never seen one?” 

I purse my lips. “Of course, I’ve seen a damn muffin.” 

“So why did you ask ‘what’s this?’” 

“Because I’m wondering why you’re giving it to me.” 

“You didn’t ask why I gave it to you. You asked ‘What’s this?’” 

“Well, I meant to ask why you gave it to me.” 

“But you didn’t.” 

“But I meant to.” 

He frowns. “Why are you so stubborn? You can’t accept a kind gesture?” I fling out a hand, gesturing to where we are. 

“This is New York City. For all I know, you laced this muffin with something that’s gonna knock me out so you can do whatever the hell you want with me.” 

He shrugs. “Maybe. Or maybe I just got you a muffin because your nose has been in that book for hours, and your body is digesting all existing food in it, which means you’ll need more soon.” 

I lay my book down on my lap, pages down. I cross my arms. “I don’t want the muffin.”

“Then throw it away.” 

“You throw it away. You’re the one who got it.” 

“But I gave it to you. You’re its rightful owner. So if you want to toss it in the trash, that’s your problem.” 

He stares at me, taking in my cropped hair and my stubble that I meant to shave. 

“I thought maybe you were different from everyone else,” he mutters. “No one in this city wants to accept kindness. I thought maybe you would.”

“Well, sorry to disappoint.” 

I say this because I genuinely don’t want to disappoint him. It twists his features in a way something so perfect shouldn’t be twisted.

Without thinking, I pick up the muffin and rip off part of its flesh with my teeth. The flavor explodes on my tongue. Yep, blueberries. 

“Happy?” I ask. 

He shrugs. “Partially.” 

“Good. Not that I care if you’re happy or not.” 

“I don’t care if you’re happy either.” 

“Fine.” 

“Fine.” 

Then he walks away. The bell over the cafe door jingles when he leaves. I stare after him until he’s nothing but another ghost in this city of spirits. I’ll never see him again. Our souls have crossed paths only this once and will not cross paths again. 

The realization hurts. Like an aching pain. 

But did he even really exist? It’s hard to tell these days.

 

Danielle Koziol has been an avid writer since she could hold a pencil. Currently, she’s 20 years old and aiming to traditionally publish her work in progress, a new adult romantasy novel, Wings of Ash and Ember. In addition, she’s presently pursuing a public relations and creative writing degree at university. When Danielle isn’t writing, she’s drinking chai, attending classes, reading fantasy or romance books, or spending time with her dog Ruby. To follow her writing and publishing journey, and to learn more about her book, follow her on Instagram and TikTok at @AuthorDanielleKoziol.

 

Featured Image by Fallon Michael.

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