Chapter 6- Noah
“Alright here, go put this on. People are gonna be here any minute now.” I grab the navy-blue t-shirt. I head into the swinging doors. There was a kitchen and then 2 different doors, the refrigerator and then the office. I head into the office and change into my new shirt. I leave the office and see Autumn coming through the swinging doors.
She turns her head and sees me. A big smile stretches across her face. “No way, no how, is that Noah?”
I open my arms and turn around slowly, while laughing. “The one and only.”
She comes over to me and brings me in for a hug. Then she steps back and looks me up and down with a big smile.
“Wow, how are you? It’s been what... five months?” I nod and smile nervously.
“Yup, yeah. Five months sounds about right.”
“So, what, now you’re working here?” She pinches my shirt and flicks it up.
“Yeah, Drew actually gave me the co-manager position. Today’s my training day.” Her smile never faded; she was just nodding. I can tell she’s genuinely happy for me
“Oh awesome! I’m happy to help you out. I guess you and I both managing,” she laughs and gives me one last hug. “Well I need to get some orders in, but don’t be afraid to ask me if you need anything.” I nod and head out the swinging doors back to the bar area. I see the back of Drews head, with his long hair hanging loose today. Sensing me behind him, he turns around and I open my arms showing him my new uniform. He smiles and nods in approval.
“Ya look good. Can’t wait til you know this job inside out.” I smile and shake my head. “You see Autumn?” I nod.
“Yeah, just saw her in the back, told me she’s the other manager. That’s awesome for her.”
Drew nodded, going back to counting the register. “Yeah, she needs a break from double shifting every day, so killed two birds with one stone. You get a job, and she gets some free time. Oh, by the way I just hired a girl to come and waitress later tonight.”
“Oh yeah, who?” He turns and points towards the far end of the bar and I see a very familiar messy bun. Then I see her. The girl from this morning. We lock eyes and fear comes in her face. I start towards her, not paying any mind to Drew. Within a second, she hops off the bar stool and quickly walks out. I walk to the entrance of the bar and watch her walk even faster away from the bar.
I was on my morning run and I saw her on her knees, struggling to breathe. I remember seeing her black eye and lip. She didn’t even realize that I was with her. Not until she finally calmed down. Then she realized I was holding on to her and she ran off. It was the oddest thing I have ever witnessed. I didn’t focus on anything; her face was a blur to me.
Once she was out of sight, I head back to Drew, who was looking at me all confused. I didn’t even blame him because I was ten times more confused.
“All good Noah? What was that about, you know her?”
I shook my head. “I wish I knew; I actually saw her this morning. She must live close by.”
“Oh yeah? Well, whatever that was she’s coming back later on to help us with the night shift.” I look at him.
“Oh she’s the new hire? Did you interview her?” He nodded and started grabbing glass cups wiping them clean.
“Well... what’d she say?” He didn’t take his eyes off the glass.
“Nothing really, just that she just moved down here from New York and needed a job.” I chuckle.
“New York, huh?” Placing the cup down and grabbing a new one he mutters a “mhm.” I grab a rag and start helping him clean the cups. “What else?”
Drew finally looks up at me inquisitively. “Noah...”
I lift my hands up in a surrender-like way while still holding the cup and rag. “Hey, I’m just askin’ questions out of genuine curiosity.”
“Yeah okay,” he says sarcastically. “Well, you know, something was a bit odd, she had this black eye and busted lip. Said she was in a car accident.”
“Hey boys,” Autumn cuts me off as she approaches the bar holding a tray with some empty dishes and cups. “I would love some help place is starting to get filled up.”
I place the cup and rag down on the counter and walk through the opening between the bar and wall beside the swinging door. I grab the tray from Autumn and start to help her buss the tables.
Even through the rush, the mysterious girl hadn’t left my mind. Her fragility and fear hadn’t left my mind. Even though I couldn’t even think of how she looked, I just kept feeling her small arms in my hands. That moment when she couldn’t grasp on to reality, couldn’t leave my mind.
Who was she?
I guess I’ll know later.
“Wow, you guys weren’t kidding, this place has really become the spot in town.” I said looking around. The lunch rush was finally over. It was just Drew, Autumn and a few people eating at the bar and some at the tables outside. Everyone was just chatting away.
“Oh yeah, Drew’s expansion really helped this place out. The view, the food. Proud of the kid.” She patted Drew’s shoulder and he rolled his eyes.
“I’m older than you, kid,” Autumn stuck her tongue out at him and laughed, while Drew rolled his eyes smiling. He swings a rag on his shoulder and leans against the bar. “But yeah, business has really turned around. Remember when I first came to everyone and told them about my bar idea. Only you and Ava believed in me.”
I nodded and gave him a soft smile. “Yeah I do remember and I’m glad to be a part of it now.”
Drew turns around. He takes out 3 shot cups and grabs one of the tequila bottles that was lined up in the wall behind him. Then he pours and gestures for us to grab ours.
“Here’s to new beginnings,” he said as he lifts his glass in the air. Autumn and I follow his lead and repeat ‘To new beginnings.’ We all take a swig of our drinks. “Liquid courage, am I right?”
The phone rings in the back and that’s when Drew turns and heads into the back leaving Autumn and I to ourselves.
“Autumn tell me, anything new with you? Besides your hair, which looks amazing by the way.” I ask her as she gets up from the stool and walks over to the bar taking Drew’s place.
She smiles, “Thanks! I did the big chop and wanted to get rid of the black hair. But I moved out of momma’s house. Living in one of the new condominiums they built. Not far at all. It’s close enough for me to walk here.”
“That’s great Autumn, I’m really happy for you.”
“Yeah, that toast earlier really applies to all of us, new beginnings.”
I smiled and looked down. New beginnings. Been hearing that since I got here and yet, I feel nothing has changed with me. I didn’t and still have yet to face everything that I need to. It just feels like I pressed pause and now being back it’s all the same. My leaving just caused me to play catch-up with everyone.
“Noah, I hope I’m not overstepping by asking this, but how have you been, with being back?” I looked at Autumn questioningly and wait for her to clarify. “Come on, don’t force me to actually ask the question.”
I sigh, “I just got back yesterday. I haven’t even had time to unpack. I appreciate the concern though.” I get up from the stool and grab the rag that lay on my shoulder. “I’m gonna start preparing for dinner service.” With that I walk away and start wiping down the tables against the window, along with the laminated menus.
Getting lost in the work, I start to think of her. Olivia. She was my best friend. She befriended Ava first and made her way to my friend group. Eventually all of us were inseparable from high school to college.
I always had the biggest crush on her, which everyone knew. Eventually, I gained up the courage and finally asked her out. I’ll never forget that day either.
Ava had been working at the chipotle in town, and we were waiting for her to get out to go see a movie. I had been so nervous; Ava had no idea either that I was going to do that. We were walking from the park to Ava’s job and she was going on and on about her trig homework. I stopped walking and she turned around looking at me with her soft green eyes. She looked annoyed but her eyes softened when she realized I stopped.
“What? Why’d we stop walking?” she asked me.
“Okay, I’m going to say something but don’t freak out or anything.”
“Okay... already starting to freak out but go ahead.” I remember taking a deep breath and looking straight in her eyes. That’s when my courage came over me and I told her everything I felt.
“Liv, I think I love you. Scratch that, I know I love you. I just need you to know that. If you don’t feel the same for me, I totally understand, and we don’t have to discuss this conversation ever again.” She stepped closer to me and placed her hand on my face smiling so wide.
“You love me?” I nodded slowly and stayed completely still, afraid that if I moved, she would take her hand away. “Noah... I...” she looked down shyly, “I love you too”.
I remember the biggest smile came across my face and I pulled her into a hug and then eventually kissed her. I remember thinking how soft her lips were and how they fit perfectly against mine.
I hear the bell of the bar ring alerting everyone that someone entered the store. I was taken away from my memories. That’s when I see my mystery girl. She’s wearing a pair of high-rise jeans that are loose, like the one’s Autumn wears. She also has on a leather jacket and a white t-shirt, and a pair of black roshe sneakers. Her blue- black hair was no longer in the messy bun from earlier but it was loose. Revealing long straight hair that rested at the end of her back. Before I even get the chance to walk up to her, Autumn saunters over to her.
“Hey, girl from earlier!”
“Yeah, nice to see you again.” She smiles a small shy smile and tucks her hair behind her ear.
“You too girl! I need your makeup skills, can’t even see that bruise from before.” Autumn said, placing her hands on her hips.
She laughs nervously, “yeah, I actually forgot about it earlier. I would’ve tried to look more presentable, but luckily your boss overlooked that.”
“Think you mean both of your bosses,” Drew comes back from the office and walks over to the girls. I take that as an invitation to walk over too, leaving behind the dirty rag on the table.
“Oh right, sorry, formalities are tough on the first day,“she says nervously. We all chuckle and then an awkward silence falls around us.
“Well, you know me- Autumn. This big guy is Drew who you met obviously and this is Noah,” Autumn puts her hands on both Drew and my shoulders as she says our names.
The mysterious girl smiles kindly at all three of us, “Well, I’m Haven.”
At last a name. I take this time to look at her face. She was so beautiful. She had these light green-hazel eyes, a cute button nose, and plump lips. Her oval face was sharp, defining her jaw line and cheek bones. I didn’t want to take my eyes off her. Autumn was right too, there wasn’t a hint of a black eye, but her lip had a nasty cut from the top to the bottom. There was a bit of bruising peaking through, but in the bar’s lighting you couldn’t really see it.
“Well, Haven, come on over and let me grab you a shirt so you can officially join the family.” Drew said, turning to walk behind the bar to the swinging doors. Haven nods and starts to follow Drew. Before she passes me, she quickly glances making eye contact but then looks away. I feel a hand on my shoulder. I look and see Autumn, who was also staring at Haven walking behind Drew.
“Cute, huh?” I look at Autumn then back in the direction of Haven then back at Autumn. I start to laugh.
“Shut up!” I walk back to the table where I abandoned my rag.
“What? I’m just sayin’.”
“Yeah, you don’t just say anything. There’s always more with you.” I wipe down the table one more time and walk to the other table along the window.
“Eh, well, you can’t deny the truth Noah.”
With that Autumn walked away chuckling, to the back of the bar filling up anything that needed filling. She’s right. As much as I hate it, I know I need to talk to her. No. I know I want to talk to her.
The beautiful mystery girl who disappeared in the mornin’ and reappeared at Drew’s bar. I know one thing is for certain, there are no coincidences.