I loved her with everything that was inside me. Her laugh, her smile, the way she made me feel alive when it could have been the worst day of my life. Just being around her made me happy. That's getting ahead of myself though. Let me start at the beginning.
We met in the most unlikely of places. I was working in this dive of a coffee shop when she came in. Her long red hair, cascaded down her back. Her eyes a beautiful shade of blue her nose was just perfect. What can I say? I noticed everything. Her lips were a luscious, red that held a slight pout when she wasn't talking.
I knew I didn't have a shot in hell, I mean I'm a coffee jerk. I pour coffee and two minutes later, I'm forgotten in the abyss that is life. Nothing about me stands out. I'm a typical guy, I stand not quite six feet, short, dull brown hair, average looks. Definitely nothing to write home to mom about.
“Vanilla Latte,” she said before I even had a chance to ask.
“Coming right up,” I said, trying to make my voice a little huskier than it normally was. God I'm such a dork. “Will there be anything else?”
I stood and waited while she looked over the menu board.
“Nope, that sounds like it will do. Thanks,” she said smiling.
I told her the price and she paid, then she took her latte and went over to sit by the window. She sat there for what could have been an hour. It was almost the end of my shift. Part of me was praying she'd leave so I wouldn't feel like a complete geek, although I couldn't pinpoint why I would feel that way. Another part of me just wanted her to stay and hopefully talk to me when I was done.
I watched her sitting there, looking out the window. Occasionally she'd look over and smile, when she did I tried to make myself look busy by wiping down the counters or filling the coffee.
“Can I have another?” I heard a soft voice ask interrupting my arguing with myself.
“I'm sorry?” I said, startled. I had my back to the counter while I was counting out the coffee filters I had set up.
“Another, please,” she said smiling. “Latte.” She waved the cup back and forth, slightly.
I refilled her cup and told her there'd be no charge for it. She smiled again and went back to her seat. Maybe I was imagining it but I couldn't help but hope, secretly, that she was flirting with me, with her smile.
“Chris, you're done,” came a voice from the back office.
Yes! I thought. I took off my apron and headed to the back room. When I walked back to the front counter, I saw Wendy, my replacement.
“Have a good night, Wen,” I said. “I'm grabbing my coffee then heading out.”
“Okay,” Wen smiled.
We got along well enough, we had both been working here for about two years now. She's married to this trucker guy and the coffee shop lets her get out of the house for a while. She's a couple years older than me and she has this sort of “been there, done that” attitude. Her eyes are always sparkling as if she is laughing on the inside about one joke or another. Her hair was cropped, which for, a woman, still looked attractive.
I think if she wasn't married, and I ever had the nerve I might have asked her out at one time, but now she was just a friend.
I poured my coffee then went to sit down. I began reading the paper, just like I did every day. That's when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was her. I couldn't believe it.
"Excuse me? Would you mind if I joined you?" she asked softly.
"Not at all," I said trying to keep the lump from forcing me to choke on my coffee.
"Thanks," she said appearing grateful. "Honestly I wasn't sure if I should approach or not but I just saw someone and I'd rather not wind up stuck in a conversation with them."
As she finished saying that there was a tinkle of the bell, which hung over the door to the shop.
I looked to the entrance, more out of habit than anything else. There was a young woman who walked in, she was pretty but no where near as attractive as my new coffee partner, but she was not bad looking.
The girl looked around the room, didn't apparently find what or most likely who, she was looking for so she turned and walked out of the shop.
"Thanks," she said finally.
"Anytime," I said smiling.
"I don't want to keep you from anything I should let you enjoy your coffee in peace," she said as she started to get to her feet.
"You're not intruding at all. I'm glad you stopped over, plus there's no reason you can't sit here and finish your coffee," I said, nervously. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but heck I was going to go for it.
"If you're sure?" she said.
"Better than drinking alone," I said smiling.
"Okay, I'd like to stay," she said taking her jacket off.
She sat and we talked for hours. Her name was Tiffany, and I was surprised to find out how much we had in common. We both loved poetry, and going to museums. She told me about her boyfriend and that they were living together. I think she did that so I wouldn't get the wrong impression.
There goes my chance, I thought.
She gave me her number, I gave her mine and she left. We spent time together over the next few months, going to museums, seeing movies. I even met her boyfriend, who was a nice enough guy. In the mean time I kept working at the coffee shop and kept my options open about dating.
Eventually her and the guy broke up. Vince was his name. I wanted to feel bad but inside I was overjoyed. She dated a bit after Vince but for the most part we always hung out. She'd come and have her latte right before I was to get off shift. Then we'd do something. Soon she wasn't dating anyone else. It was always just her and I together.
I had fallen in love with her long ago, I knew it. I could feel her when we weren't together. I sometimes thought I was losing my mind. When she'd date someone else, I wouldn't say a word. I'd be supportive and then I'd be her shoulder when things didn't work out.
The first time she told me that she was in love with me I nearly fell off my chair. We had gone out for dinner at this, oh I don't even know how to describe it. It was a hole in the wall basically. I wanted to take her somewhere nice and a couple people from work had told me about this restaurant. I thought it would be great for me to tell her how I felt about her. One look at the dive and I wanted to take her by the hand and walk out.
She had this way of making everything an adventure. She walked in and grabbed a chair. I think it was probably 800 years old but I didn't say anything. The grimy floor nearly made me slip and fall. I had to grab the wall to stay standing. I made my way to the table and sat down.
“Are you sure you want to stay here?” I asked. “I feel absolutely horrible. I was told this place was amazing and had good music.”
“It's perfect,” she said looking into my eyes and smiling.
“You are a nut,” I said laughing. Already my mood was improving. The effect this woman has on me, I sighed.
“You okay?” she asked looking a little worried.
“Yeah, I was just hoping for something..” I trailed off.
“More romantic?” she asked smiling.
“Yes,” I blushed. I couldn't help it. Not very manly I know but damn this woman.
“I have to tell you something,” she said seriously.
“You want to skip dinner and run the hell out of here?” I said, half joking.
“No, although skipping dinner later is always an option,” she winked at me.
That was the first time she had ever said anything like that to me. I knew I must have blushed again, I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks.
“Seriously though,” she took my hand in hers. “I have to tell you that I love you, Chris. It has taken me a long time to realize it and I'm sorry for making you wait so long.”
That's when the most inopportune thing happened.
The chair I was sitting on collapsed. As if the shock from her saying that she loved me wasn't enough, and if I was anywhere else, I probably would have danced on the table top and screamed for joy. No, my chair broke and I fell flat on my ass.
“I love you too,” I said scrambling to my feet. I tried to make myself sound less embarassed than I felt but at the moment that wasn't exactly possible.
I could see she was trying not to laugh. She had put her hands to her mouth and was doing her best to hold it in, until she couldn't any longer.
"I'm sorry," she said trying to sound apologetic between laughs. "But you should have seen your face. It was priceless."
I walked around the table and helped her to her feet. Then I wrapped my arms around her and together we shared our first kiss. The moment I felt her lips on mine I thought I died. It was something I had waited so long for. The entire room swam away, all that existed was her and I.
When I finally let her go the two of us had a great laugh over what was the best and most memorable event of the evening. I knew it was going to be something we never forgot.
We were inseparable after that, she moved into my place and I kept my job at the coffee shop. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment. With every day that passed I didn't think I could love her more but I did. Don't get me wrong it wasn't always perfect. We fought, boy did we have our share of arguments but we listened, we talked. Most of all we loved each other.
A year later I had proposed and we were planning our wedding. It was insane but I was lucky. I knew it could have been worse. I mean I've heard of some brides to be turning into super psycho woman and they should have been institutionalized. Tiffany wasn't like that. We weren't going to have a huge wedding. Just a small, family oriented, a few friends, wedding. It was going to be beautiful, I guess. Who was I kidding? It was more her thing than mine anyway.
She had gone to pick up her wedding dress about a week before the wedding. She had the last of her fittings and everything was ready to go. An hour after she was due back there was a knock at the door.
"Did you forget your keys?" I asked pulling the door open, expecting to see Tiffany standing there holding bags from her shopping trip.
I was surprised to see two officers standing there.
"Is this the home of Tiffany Spencer and Christopher Forren?" the taller officer asked.
"It is," I said. "Tiffany's not here right now, she's gone to get her wedding dress, we're getting married."
"Sir, may we come in? There's something you should know," he said sympathetically.
"Yes, of course. Pardon the mess," I said. "As I told you we're in the middle of planning a wedding so the place is a bit... Well you can see."
I moved aside and the two men walked inside.
"Have a seat," the shorter officer said.
"I think I'll stand if it's all the same to you," I told him. "Now what seems to be the problem?"
Each of the officers took a moment and introduced themselves. Officer Keigle, who was the taller, more sympathetic one and Officer Johnson, who seemed to be all business .
"There's no easy way to say this," Officer Keigle said softly. "Are you certain you wouldn't rather be sitting?"
"I'm fine," I told them.
They told me she was crossing the street, she had the right of way. A bus lost control and struck her. It dragged her about 30 feet underneath the cab. Her wedding dress was caught in something called a chasse. I was not sure what the hell that was but I was certain it couldn't be good because I knew she would have been clutching onto that dress.
I collapsed onto the couch, which was luckily behind me or I probably have fallen to the floor. I shook my head in disbelief.
"She's just shopping," I said to them.
They told me I had to go down to the morgue to identify her. So they drove me and escorted me through the building. I went and looked into her beautiful face. They had cleaned her face so there was nothing on it. No make up, nothing from the bus, just nothing. Her face was probably the only part of her that hadn't been mangled, I was told. It wasn't a pretty sight. So they kept her covered with a blanket.
The funeral came, and everyone we knew showed up. All of her friends, my friends, family. Everyone was stunned. I was numb. Over and over I wished it had have been me instead of her. The world was missing out on a wonderful woman who could make you smile without even trying. Just spending time with her made you feel as if you were the most important person in the world.
Everyone gave their condolences as I stood by the casket for the wake. I couldn't bear to leave her side, as if every moment I was there would be the last. My hands slid across the cold mohogany and my eyes filled with tears. Each second felt like an eternity.
Everyone filtered out slowly until I was left there alone. That was when I broke down completely. My hands shook as I held my head and cried. The light from my life was gone and there wasn't a damn thing I could do to fix it.
Finally I was escorted from the room by one of the directors, at least I thought it was one of them. I barely remember much after leaving. It was too much of a blur.
I went through the next few weeks in a daze, sometimes I would wake and expect to hear her laughter coming from the kitchen. Or when I came home from work and left my shoes on, I'd wait for her to yell at me, laughing, to take my feet off the coffee table, which I'd automatically do.
I loved her with everything that was inside me. Her laugh, her smile, the way she made me feel alive when it could have been the worst day of my life. This was probably the worst thing that I could go through but I still felt her love for me.