I keep looking back-and-forth at the coffee shop’s entrance to see if he’s arrived, but all I see are unfamiliar figures puffing tiny clouds before scurrying through the revolving door, trying to escape the frigid air. Part of me hopes he doesn’t show. Just continue the cycle he started many years ago, one of avoidance and ultimate disappearance. But I don’t think we could actually handle that.
My hands break out into a slight tremble, so I wrap them around my steaming mug of hot chocolate. The cubes of marshmallows bob up and down like buoys during a slow, low tide. That motion doesn’t help because it triggers a simultaneous flutter in the depth of my stomach, warms my core, then settles. I ask myself whether my hands shake from the actual cold or my nerves; nevertheless, I grip the cup tighter, realizing its temperature has to be one degree shy of a serious burn.
I finally admit to myself it’s he who’s making me this anxious.
It’s the “he” from my sophomore to senior years of undergrad. The “he” who camped out in the McGrew Towers lobby pretending to need my macroeconomics help. The “he” who winked and spit subtle rhymes at me while he chilled with his frat brothers inside the student union. The “he” who made me a homemade strawberry cake complete with buttercream icing and real berries for my birthday. The same “he” who flew me to Birmingham during our spring break so he could introduce me to his parents during junior year, only to abandon me right before graduation with no conversation to gain understanding. The “he” who coincidentally appears at my job miles and cities away in Chicago, of all places, 12 years later. The “he” who ignores me in the community room and passes me in the hallway with nary a glance.
Until yesterday when I looked at him through that glass wall.