“Here’s your coffee, kid.”
“Working hard again today?”
“Yeah… a lot of tests to prepare for. You know that your coffee shop is the only place I can really catch up on my reading.
“Is that the only reason why you’ve been frequenting here more lately?” Sojiro raises his eyebrow and smiles a little.
“Haha… Well…” Ren laughs.
“Just messing with ya, kid. I know…I know.” Sojiro winks. “Good luck…with your studies.”
Ren smiles once again as he heads back to his seat beside the window. He sips a bit from the house blend coffee he ordered. Sojiro’s coffee shop, LeBlanc, was one of the best places near his university’s campus for students to study. Ren loved to frequent here to read his books. The fact that Sojiro himself was actually a family friend gave him also a few perks. Some discounts here and there. Today he dedicated himself to preparing for his political science exam for next week. And also…
Ren shakes his head as he promises to concentrate. Recently… he’s been too…distracted. He was a senior in a top university in Tokyo. With it brought a lot of difficult exams.
Ren begins to study earnestly. He had to keep up his grades for his plans in the future. Sadly like any normal person, his mind wanders around after about 20 minutes of concentration. He remembers one of the conversations he’s had with friends of his about a month ago.
*A month prior in the same coffee shop*
“Aren’t you working too hard, Ren? Maybe you’re concentrating too much on your studies. Aren’t you interested in you know…meeting new people?… Meeting someone?” asked Yu.
Ren laughs as he talks to Yu, a childhood friend of his who was 6 years his senior. He kept insisting that university life was a time to build connections too. And possibly meet…someone.
“Yeah, Ren. Don’t you want to find that right person? said Rise with a sweet smile.
Rise was also another childhood friend of his who happened to be the next door neighbor, and girlfriend of Yu. While growing up, Yu and Rise were the great older “brother” and “sister” of his he never had due to being an only child. In the neighborhood they grew up in, they played together a lot. Rise and Yu were sometimes babysitters of his, confidants, and also two of the people he looked up to.
“Yu… Rise… I love you both but maybe…I’m not meant to find that kind of love? What if I’m destined to be single?”
“Is that what you really think, Ren? Because if that’s the case, then I guess we’ll stop hounding you then.” said Yu.
Ren shrugged a little.
“Well…To be honest…It’s not like I have no interest in finding someone. It’s just… I’ve never had that spark. I’ve never had that moment where… I’ve been really interested with a girl before.” said Ren.
Ren paused for a bit before he continued speaking.
“I can’t have like what happened with you two. You guys grew up together, and fell in love. That’s super sweet and honestly, you two are the ideal couple I have in mind, when it comes to standards for my own in the future. My story is probably going to be different. I never had a wonderful girl next door. I just had an empty lot beside my house on the left. The house to my right on the other hand, was the old guy with the 12 cats. Not exactly my type.”
The three friends laughed as they recalled their youthful memories.
“Hmm… Maybe we can help? Well… Actually I was hoping to set you up with a girl I know from the agency! She’s a sweet girl! I swear! We’re close and I think you two would be perfect for each other!” said Rise.
“Really? What’s she like?” said Ren.
Well… She has a great… personality.” said Rise with a smile.
Ren couldn’t help but shiver. Hearing something like that always meant there’s a catch.
“Uhm… maybe I’ll just wait and see if destiny has other plans.” said Ren.
“Come on! A blind date will be fun!” said Rise with a cute pout.
“I’ll let you know otherwise.” said Ren.
At that point in time, Ren’s priorities in life didn’t include finding the right girl. It just wasn’t at the moment. Saying he was leaving it to “destiny” was also just a way for his friends to stop pestering him at the moment. It was true though. He never had that “spark” or moment where he couldn’t take his eyes off of someone. That is… until about a week after he met up with Yu and Rise.
It was a rainy Tuesday on campus. Ren came in to the coffee shop early before the weather became intense. As usual, he sat by the window; as he enjoyed looking at the people go about their daily lives. As he looked out, watching people scramble as they looked for cover, he noticed this one young woman, with a yellow umbrella, and a nice coat quickly trying to get inside. In Ren’s eyes, she looked a bit frantic, which was normal considering how outside looked like it was raining cats and dogs. But there was something about this woman, which made her not escape from his sight. He continued looking towards her as she entered LeBlanc. He couldn’t quite see her face from the outside due to her hood. But now that she was finally safe and sound inside LeBlanc, she began removing the layers protecting her from the rain. As she placed her umbrella down, and removed her hoodie, Ren’s jaw dropped slightly as all he could think about was… how beautiful she was.
He wasn’t sure whether it was due to her blonde bushy pigtails she had, those beautiful blue eyes, her perfect facial features, her soft complexion, or a combination of all of it, which made his heart skip a bit. He was just…entranced. She was just… beautiful. The girl didn’t notice as he continued to stare. She began looking for a seat at the opposite side of the store. She brought out what appeared to be some schoolbooks, and left it on a table. She then approached the counter as she ordered her own coffee. All the while, Ren continued to secretly watch her.
A mystery girl in a coffee shop. Sounds like a romance novel moment he’s heard many times before. And yet… this is exactly how it felt. These things can really happen? Who was she? Feeling like he’s done enough staring, he continues to read his books. All the while, he would sneak a glance at the girl from across the store every so often. It was like this for nearly 2 hours. For the first time, he’s felt less productive studying in LeBlanc, then if he would have studied somewhere else.
Finally, the mystery girl begins to pack up and leave. She gathers all her books. All the while, she didn’t know that Ren continued to look at her as she exited the coffee shop.
Ren’s attention was drawn by the sound. He looks towards the counter to see a smirking Sojiro.
The wise man leaves the counter and approaches Ren.
Ren’s face turned red. Was it that obvious that he was interested with her?
“You’ve been staring on and off at her since she arrived. What? You didn’t think I’d notice?”
“Haha. Good luck kiddo.”
Ren just kept quiet as the man went back to the counter. Ren promised that for the next hour, he’d be productive. The back of his mind though couldn’t help think about the mystery girl.
Two days later, Ren once again on his favorite spot, sees her enter the coffee shop.
“Oh no.” he thought.
She wore something a bit lighter due to the nice sunny weather. It however looked wonderful on her. She once again ordered a regular coffee at the counter. After that she began studying at the opposite side of the store near the couches.
Ren again couldn’t help but get distracted. His heart was beating a bit fast.
“Hey kid.” a quiet voice said.
Ren looked up and saw Sojiro beside him. He placed down his order of curry in front of him. Sojiro however continued to look at Ren.
“Hey. Go talk to her.” he quietly said.
Ren looked up slowly to check if she overheard their conversation. Thankfully she didn’t.
“No. I can’t do that!” Ren hastily and quietly said.
“Well. Just a suggestion.”
He smiled and went back to the counter.
The next 2 hours played out similarly like the other day. Finally, she left the coffee shop, and Ren sighed.
“Thank God. Now I can concentrate…”
Sojiro shook his head as he laughed at the young man who was like a son to him.
After that day, Ren would head to the coffee shop, to “study” almost everyday. All the while hoping that she would show up. It wasn’t always the case that she’d appear. He didn’t know her schedule, and he had his own too. He just made sure that whenever he had no classes from a certain time in the afternoon, he would head straight to LeBlanc in the hopes of catching her. He lucked out by seeing her another 5 times in the last 2 weeks. Ren then noticed she regularly came on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also once during a school holiday. She’d do the same thing. She would order a regular coffee and head to her familiar spot on the opposite of the coffee shop, to study.
Ren would always be there in his spot near the window, trying to study but spectacularly failing due to his attention being drawn to her.
Back to the present, Ren was waiting again as it was a Tuesday. Right on cue, the mystery girl enters LeBlanc with her books. Ren looks to the counter to see that Sojiro already knows who has arrived.
The mystery girl leaves her things by her favorite spot across the room near the couches. She orders her coffee and goes back quietly. After the order, Sojiro approaches Ren again.
“She likes it sweet…” he quietly says to Ren.
“She likes her coffee sweet. She asks for extra cream and extra sugar for her coffee. Just wanted to tell you something about her since you know absolutely nothing. Haha.” said Sojiro.
Ren went back to his studies. For the next hour, the routine continued. He’d read his book and his attention would be caught by her as he sneaked a peak. But something different happened that day. It was really quiet in the coffee shop. There were only a few customers aside from the two of them. It was quiet enough that if anyone talked a bit louder than normal, you’d pretty much hear the entire conversation. Ren’s spot in particular had this certain quirk that from where he was sitting, the entire store was audible. It was some mystery of the story, but he thanked it nonetheless because he could hear the sweet voice of the mystery girl whenever she spoke up a little.
*Ring Ring* the girl’s phone sounded.
The mystery girl picks up her phone and Ren saw that her face looked delighted. He wondered who was calling. She answered the call.
“Yes. This is she.”
Ren had to pause because he couldn’t help but admire the happy face the mystery girl had from the phone call. It then however came crashing down. The mystery girl’s smile began to disappear.
“Well…if there are any other roles…”
“Yes… I’m available…”
“Thank you for the opportunity…”
The mystery girl ended the phone call with a somber tone. Ren wasn’t sure what happened but it sounded like she was auditioning for something… and that she didn’t make it. For the first time since he caught sight of her since 3 weeks ago, the mystery girl looked clearly sad.
She was quiet at first. She continued reading her notes. But after what seemed like 5 minutes… Her eyes looked a bit red. She began tearing up a little. She did a small quick sob.
Ren didn’t know what to do. He wanted to help her but in reality… he didn’t actually know her. He was just a stranger. But it crushed his heart seeing her like this. Whatever happened must have hit her hard.
Soon…the mystery girl stood up and quietly headed for the restroom. As soon as she entered…Ren stood up. He walked to the counter and talked to Sojiro.
“Sojiro… can you do me a favor?”
“Sure kid…What’s up?”…
A few minutes later.
The mystery girl went back towards her seat. As she made herself comfortable again, Sojiro approaches and places a nice slice of cheesecake in front of her.
“Oh. Uhm. Excuse me sir…I-I didn’t order any cheesecake.” said the mystery girl.
“It’s a treat… enjoy.” said Sojiro with a smile.
The mystery girl didn’t know what to say. She looked back to the cheesecake and to Sojiro and decided to accept the kindness.
“T-thank you sir. S-sorry. I must be disturbing your other customers from the “waterworks” a while ago.”
“Don’t say that. Everybody has their off-days. You’ll never hear any kind of criticism or judgement from me. Also… I didn’t get you the cake…Here, take this.”
The mystery girl receives a card from Sojiro as he heads backs to the counter. She opens the cards and reads the message.
“The cheesecake here is heavenly. It always cheers me up when I’m down. Hope it helps you feel better.
Signed: The Boy with the Dorky Glasses.”
The mystery girl looks up and tries to find the boy who matched the description. She then realizes that there wasn’t anyone who did. Ren left a few minutes ago. All the while, Sojiro smirks and talks to himself quietly at the counter.
“Kid…you should have stayed behind…Haha.”
The next Thursday when Ren entered the store, he wasn’t sure what to expect. He was nervous ever since he left the store last Tuesday. Did the girl think she was weird? Was he bothering her for not minding his own business? Did he think he was a stalker? These cruel thoughts clouded his mind. As he began studying and waiting quietly, he noticed the girl was late from her usual time she’d normally arrive. He was thinking maybe she was behind with her time. This changed when an hour later, she was a no-show.
Ren’s thoughts became louder. Maybe he grossed her out.
“God. I’m so stupid…” he thought to himself.
He was so distracted by her even if she wasn’t even present in the store. Feeling like this was going nowhere, he decided to use up his time for the better and concentrate on his studies for the first time in a long time in the coffee shop. He’ll just remember this as a moment of doing something incredibly stupid. The cringe he felt inside was eating him.
An hour later, Ren finally finishes his studies for the day and decides to head home. Before he could stand up, Sojiro appears beside him and prevents him from moving.
“Sojiro…What’s up?” asked Ren.
“This is for you.”
Sojiro places a chocolate lava cake in front of Ren. It’s one of the specialties of the coffee shop he’s never actually tried in the store before. It was something he told himself he’d get next time but always postponed.
“Uhm…Thanks?” said Ren.
“I didn’t get this for you.” Sojiro smiled. He gives him a card. He then realizes this felt strangely familiar.
“Wait… is this?” Ren hurriedly asked.
Sojiro winks as he heads back to the counter.
Ren opens the card and reads the contents.
“Dear Boy with the Dorky Glasses,
First off, do you know it’s kind of rude to stare at people? —-“
Ren gulped. Was she saying that she knew the entire time that he was looking at her these last few weeks? When did she notice? He continued reading.
——Second… Thank you for the cheesecake. It was really sweet! Literally and Figuratively. It really did help cheer me up. I asked the storeowner to order you something next time you visit to make it even. Hope you enjoy! :)
P.S. - Don’t study too hard all the time. Hope you get to relax because sometimes it seems like you’re about to burst into flames at any moment.
Signed: The Girl with the Bushy Pigtails.
The PS confirmed the fact that she knew who he was. This made Ren realize that maybe she knew he’s been looking at her for some time now. Ren wanted to cringe all over again but at the same time… he was on cloud 9. The girl he’s been crushing on thought he was sweet and even bought a cake for him.
Ren took the fork and tasted the lava cake.
“My God. It’s delicious.” he said. Ren thinks he’s found his new favorite dessert from LeBlanc.
He ended up not leaving his seat for the next 30 minutes as he continued thinking about the mystery girl.
Sojiro in the background couldn’t help but laugh again as he saw the boy had googly-eyes as he stared into space. Ren was excited for next Tuesday, hoping she’d finally show up again. He was going to gather up his courage and finally talk to her.
Unfortunately for Ren, the mystery girl never did. The following Tuesday and Thursday, she never appeared. The week after that was the same. Ren waited and waited… After 3 weeks of Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ren realized she wasn’t coming back.
“I don’t even know her name…” Ren said. He finally gives up to the situation. He sighed about the mystery girl he’ll never see again.