Picture this. A small, fairly unknown café on a street corner in late September, where inside it draws closer to closing time. And there’s you, in a small booth beside the window, coffee cradled in your hands to warm your fingers. The first leaves have begun to fall from the trees,carried in a cool Autumn breeze past the window and skittering along the pavement. You’d be busy marvelling at the beauty outside the window if you weren’t marvelling at the beauty sitting opposite you.
This person; you’ve only known them a short while and yet you’ve already formed this bond a thousand years of friendship couldn’t match. This person with eyes so wide and welcoming, and a smile that awakens the butterflies in your chest and makes your hands clammy. They’re sitting in front of you, this sweet smile playing across their lips as they tell you a story, and you can’t help but smile and nod along within them, completely captured by their everything. You barely lift your head to nod a ‘thank-you’ at the waitress busily scrubbing at the crumbs on your table, so absorbed in this wonderful being in front of you. And it is only when you reluctantly stand up to leave the café that you realise it is empty except for a few half-empty coffee cups scattered across tables. The waitress has disappeared into the kitchen, leaving the both of you completely alone.
‘I had no idea we’d stayed here so long!’ they exclaim, looking at you with a small smile. You shake your head to stop yourself getting lost in those eyes and try to think of something to say.
‘Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess,’ you reply, scratching the back of your head, unable to stop a smile and nervous laugh escaping your lips.
You always hate this part the most; goodbyes have never been your favourite things. You hate the awkward goodbyes and promises of seeing each other again which mostly get broken. You pack away your stuff slowly, trying to savour the moment for as long as possible. Meanwhile they stand patiently beside you, humming along quietly to the tune crackling out of the old battered radio on the checkout table.
‘This is my favourite song,’ you utter, looking up. Your gaze is met to a hand reaching out to you where behind lies an expectant gaze and curious smile. You return a questioning gaze, an eyebrow raised.
‘Do you want to dance?’
The small question is answered by a quiet gasp. Nervously, you take their hand and straighten up. You both draw closer, until your bodies are gently brushing each other, and you can feel their chest rise with each breath while their heartbeat gently thuds against your chest. You pray they cannot hear the intense thudding of your own heart and begin to dance.
The moves are slow and simple, perfectly matching the smooth, calming acoustics of the song. You both remain silent, eyes locked as you spin and step to and fro. Your fingers intertwine, they absent-mindedly stroking your thumb with theirs as you roll a strand of hair intricately through your fingers. Small, shy smiles create conversation that no words could match, the silence enveloping you both in your own world. Their eyes are pools that reflect yours, searching your face, trying to create a memory as feverishly as your eyes are. You could happily stare at those eyes forever, fall deep into the crevices of their soul and remain there in perfect serenity. You could fall in love with those eyes.
And so that is how your perfect date with this perfect person comes to an end; not with stiff, awkward hugs and the drop of your chest as you have to watch them walk away, but with a slow dance in an empty, quiet café in late September. A café where outside leaves fall and life moves on, and where inside two people dance to the gentle rhythm of two hearts beating as one.