Winter Enigma

The clicking of the keyboard resonated throughout the house of books, every so often pausing long enough for frozen fingers to take a break. Still, her rhythm did not change, her mind set on telling a story that couldn’t be told through anything but her words – her thoughts.

Everyday, she sat in the coffee shop of the little library tucked into a small side street. She would greet the barista with a bright smile, rain or shine, but she skipped the lines in favour of her favourite seat – the window seat. There was a big bay window large enough to see the people milling about the alleyway, laughing with friends and family.

She always came alone. Sat alone. Left alone.

That did not mean she was lonely.

Nobody ever noticed the girl sitting in the corner with papers strewn about her table – at least, she thought nobody did.

One day, just as she was settling into the comfy armchair, the scent of coffee and pumpkin spice permeating through the air, she saw someone silently take the seat across from her.

A boy. She raised her eyebrows at the pink-tinged cheeks, the curly hairs sticking out of his beanie, but she also saw that he was staring at her. For a moment, they said nothing, and she went back to typing away on her laptop, sinking into her flow.

He seemed to be studying her, but she paid him no heed. He left five minutes before she did – silently, not saying anything.

The next day, he came back. This time, however, he held two coffee cups in his hands. He placed one in front of her while sipping from the other, and she saw the lid with the words pumpkin spice latte written on top in a scrawling font.

She almost smiled, but settled for shaking her head in his direction before continuing her story. He huffed, taking the coffee cup and leaving her alone.

The day after that, he placed a cup of hot chocolate in front of her, leaning back into his chair whilst looking at her. This time, she did smile slightly, but shook her head in answer to his unasked question. Grumbling, he took the drink away and didn’t return.

This continued over the course of eleven more days, each day with a new drink, getting successively more and more random. Chai tea. Black coffee. Cappuccino. Espresso. Iced peppermint mocha. Vanilla latte. Latte macchiato. Caramel macchiato. Chile mocha frappuccino. Iced cinnamon dolce latte. Salted caramel mocha frappuccino.

Each day, she would smile just a little bit more, shaking her head no while keeping a laugh in. He watched her with frustrated eyes, mind whirring to try and figure out the drink she would take. Every time she declined, he would sigh and leave quietly.

On the twelfth day, there was a drag to his step, and he took off the beanie he wore every single day to run a hand through his tousled hair. A sigh escaped his lips before he sat down, placing the cup in front of her as an offering.

I give up, the lid said.

Curious as to what concoction he had purchased for her this time, she bit her lip in hesitance, eyes darting between his defeated posture and the drink. Cautiously, she opened the lid.

What she saw inside made her laugh out loud, making him jump from his seat, a hopeful glint in his gaze.

“Thanks,” she said, taking a sip.

Water. It was just water.

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