It was a quiet afternoon, possibly due to the steady, although warm rain that had been falling down from voluminous, dark clouds hovering above the city since the early morning hours.
It was time to leave, at least for Calum.
All bags, all suitcases were packed and waiting in his hallway, the empty rooms echoing his every step. Only two years did he call it his home, but more than enough things had happened in that short period of time to make it feel like he did belong.
But that feeling was gone now.
Calum didn’t bother to take an umbrella with him, the rain was warm on his skin and made him feel at least somewhat alive. He didn't plan it, his feet just unconsciously took him to the old and familiar part of the town where the streets were uneven cobblestone, the lamps a warm yellow light splattered on the facades, and old wooden vintage shops lined every small alley.
He was drawn to one small café in particular, an old building from the 1800s with ivy ranking up the front and a quiet bell announcing every customer entering.
It didn't ring for Calum, he didn't dare get much closer than the other side of the road. The view was still clear enough, several people sitting at the small wooden tables with vases of wildflowers on every single one of them. He knew how beautiful they smelled, he could still recall the creaking of the chairs whenever someone got up, and if he really concentrated, he could even smell the coffee.
What he didn't have to imagine though was the faint sound of a piano being played inside the café. It was a soft melody, melancholic, yet hopeful, and matched beautifully with the everlasting sound of the rain outside where Calum stood.
He had been inside, listened to it many times from a table right beside the piano. It had been his table, he had been a regular for many months with always a whiskey in his hand while listening to those wondrous hands on the piano keys.
He was hard to miss with his white blouse and blond curls in front of the black, elegant instrument, yet he seemed to have formed an entity with it over time. He was a genius player, too good for this small city if he had the balls to actually admit it to himself, but Calum knew Luke wouldn't leave. It was his world, he chose it consciously, and there was nothing to change his mind. Not even, and that was probably what hurt most, not even Calum. He had tried hard enough to know that now.
A small sunray breaking through the clouds grabbed Calum’s attention, and he remembered why he was here in the first place - to say goodbye.
Now though that he saw Luke once again lost in his own world, blissfully unaware of what happened outside the big windows, Calum had a hard time to actually act on his plan. Several scenarios had been played out before, from actually coming in and saying “Bye Luke” to just waving at him, but now they all seemed ridiculous. Ridiculous and needy.
Calum wiped some raindrops off his face, ignoring the voice in his head mocking him whether he was sure it was rain and not his tears. It wasn’t. Right?
His eyes once again found their way back to the blonde guy, watching him, studying his every movement when something, or rather someone, made him look up.
It was embarrassing how Calum stopped breathing for a second, but he couldn't help it. She had a pretty smile, long brown hair, and although he did so reluctantly, Luke laughed with her and gestured to her to sit down next to him. The stab he felt in his heart made it difficult to think for Calum.
He shouldn't be feeling like this. He should be over it, and still he wasn’t. Maybe he would never move on.
It seemed like the girl was asking Luke to teach her, but Luke hesitated, and although it was probably the most embarrassing, far reaching thought, what if he didn't because of Calum?
But no. Stop. Stop right there, Calum told himself, closing his eyes and gathering himself. It was nothing but wishful thinking.
When he opened his eyes again, the girl was gone and Luke was playing again. And that's how it would always be from now on, wasn't it? Luke in his own world, playing in a small café, and no Calum next to him, listening. Only a small crowd, unaware of what kind of wonder was sitting right in front of them.
By now the sun found her way through the dark clouds, making it hard to still identify Luke behind the window which reflected the bright light in his direction.
It was time, Calum decided. Maybe this was the sign he had been waiting for all along.
He hesitated one last time, hoping for something that would never happen, then he turned away from the café and slowly walked down the narrow alley towards the sun. She warmed his face, and Calum wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed as if it slowly stopped raining.
The melody from the grand piano faded out more with every step he took, until there was nothing left but the trickling and dripping of the rain, the little splashes from his shoes in a puddle, and the quiet sound of new beginnings.
His fingers didn't need any training, didn't need any practice. They still knew the melody, although Lukes mind was far from anything music related. Instead, he imagined someone sitting next to him, watching him play and occasionally sipping from his whiskey. It was dumb and stupid, and yet Luke couldn’t prevent it from happening over and over again, every day of the week, every time he sat down here. Calum being here had made every working day turn into something entirely different, made the sun shine brighter through the window, the smell of coffee more bearable, his heart lighter. Now it was heavy from grief.
Which, if he was being honest, was no one’s fault but his.
Of course he did not admit it. He suffered from his own decision, blaming everything and everyone, but he would not give in. He couldn't, because if he did, he would hate himself for what he did, and that wouldn’t end well.
So he continued playing every day, went home, slept, and woke up the next morning only to play again as soon as the café opened.
“You're really good,” someone said, almost causing Luke to mess up.
“Thank you,” he countered, unsure of what else to say. She was pretty, she really was, but Luke couldn't bear any conversational encounter right now.
She motioned to the piano. “What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be making whole crowds pay to see this masterpiece?”
Luke felt the heat rise to his cheeks and swallowed hardly. Great, it wasn't like that was the first thing Calum had asked him the first time he came in here. He faked a polite laugh. “Yeah, I don’t know. Habit.”
“I’m Ashe,” the brunette said before sitting down next to Luke, way too close for his liking. “Can you teach me something?”
“No.” It was out before he could stop himself, but then again, it was the truth. He was an awful teacher, and on top of that, he hated teaching other people. He would only get increasingly annoyed because they would never understand what he wanted them to do.
Brunette-called-Ashe rowed back. “Oh, okay. Just asking, I guess.”
“I'm an awful teacher, really. You'd only get frustrated.”
But it was too late, Ashe got up without another word.
Luke continued playing, relieved, but pissed at himself at the same time. He wasn't himself, he was no asshole. Or was he? If he was, it was Calum’s fault, he decided.
He concentrated on what he was doing, only to be distracted once again by the sun suddenly shining through the dark clouds.
He quickly glanced outside, only to take a second look immediately after. What was that?
It resembled a person, but that was probably not it, no. It was only the sun, right? Right? Luke couldn’t convince himself, though. Fine, it did look like someone whose name could possibly be starting with C... But did that change anything? No. Not at all, he decided.
That chapter has closed.