Don't make a fuss
“Tell me everything.” He sounded winded and out of breath, but I could tell his focus was now on what I was about to say.
“I was at school, I came out of class and there was this guy, I didn’t see him, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.” I blurt out my response, while trying to navigate my way through town.
“What guy? What do you mean there was a guy? What happened? Are you alright? Where are you? Tony, yeah take over. I’ve got to head out.” From the noises in the background and his instruction to whoever Tony is, I guessed he was in the middle of training. I hear his footsteps getting louder, so I can only assume he is running, and I can’t help but feel guilty for making something from nothing. But the problem is, is that I don’t know if it is actually nothing or not.
“I’m heading to the café; I didn’t want to go home. Just in case... you know...” I say you know, but I don’t even know. What even is there to know?
“Okay, I’m on my way, I’ll meet you there. Don’t talk to any strangers.” I can’t control my laugh that escapes me.
“Er, okay dad. I do know the stranger danger rule you know.” I near the cafe and quickly find a parking space.
“I’m serious Amber.” His time tone is sharp, and it shocks me.
“Yeah, yes of course. I know, I’m here now, I’m gonna head inside.” I wait before getting out the car until I’ve finished the call.
“I’ll be there soon. Don’t go anywhere.” His concern makes me realise I’d don’t the right thing and wasn’t just making something of nothing, but that in itself worried me.
Why was he so worried?
I entered the cafe quickly, the bell above the door signalling my arrival to Tara who was stood behind the counter filling the glass cake stands.
“Amber, are you okay. Don’t take this the wrong way but you look like you’re about to throw up?” I walk over, trying to calm myself.
“A glass of water would be good.” She nods and points to an empty table.
“Take a seat, I’ll bring one over.” I move to where she indicated, I drop down into the seat and Tara quickly appears with a glass of water.
“Ryan’s not here, if you wanted to see him. He had to pop out.” She hovers, as if she’s unsure what to do.
“No, it’s fine, I’m meeting a friend here in a while.” I hadn’t actually given Ryan a second thought, this was just the first place I had thought of to come to.
“Are you sure you’re alright. You look like you might pass out.” Tara sounding genuinely concerned was something I wasn’t used to hearing, she was surprising me more each time I came in.
“I’m good. Thank you, Tara.” She rolled her eyes; my voice must have given me away.
“No need to sound so shocked Amb’s, I can be nice when I want to be.” I chuckle but she stays put.
“So how long have you worked here for?” I decide to make polite conversation with her, Shawn’s not here and there’s no customer for her to serve so I couldn’t see Ryan mind her talking. He had told me to after all.
“About a month. It’s no big deal.” I shake my head agreeing with her.
“How’s college going?” She visibly stiffens and scrunches her face a little.
“It wasn’t for me.” She looks behind her, looking for customers that require her attention, but there aren’t any.
“Oh, okay. So…” she rolls her eyes at me again.
“I don’t know Amber. Maybe take a year out, maybe travel, maybe go back net year. For now, I’m just working.” She blurts it all out quickly, I can imagine she’s been grilled on the issue a few times and that’s her general response.
“I was just going to ask if Ryan was a good boss.” Her small smile matches my own, and I think I just had the best conversation with Tara that I’ve ever had.
“Sure you were. Things don’t always work out, stuff happens… and people change.” She looks down and unlike tara, she looks vulnerable. It makes me want to reach out to her, but I don’t; not physically anyway, I’m not too sure how she would even react to that.
“Tara, if you ever want to chat or hang out, we could do that.” I hope I sound genuine, I really am trying to be. She just stares at my face a while, then a small smile appears.
“Maybe Amb’s, I do have a life though, busy social calendar and all that. But thanks for the offer. I should get back.” She points back to the front counter and quickly turns and walks back to her original spot. By the time I hear the bell above the door, signalling another customer walking in, I’ve calmed down some and people have stopped giving me odd glances.
“What happened Amber?” His usual loud voice is hushed, and he pulls the other chair at the table round, so it’s closer to mine.
“Shawn don’t make a fuss. I was being over dramatic earlier, it’s probably nothing. Did you leave training to come here? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” he places his hand on my bouncing knee, I didn’t even realise I was doing it. Maybe I was still more shaken up than I thought I was.
“Amber, you’ve done the right thing, tell me everything. Did you recognise him?” I hesitate when I answer, and he leans in closer to me.
“Do you know who he is?” He is still speaking in his hushed tone, so I match mine to his.
“No, I didn’t know him, but there was something… familiar maybe? I’m not sure, I don’t think I’ve ever met him or spoken to him, but maybe like I’ve just seen him around maybe?” He runs his hands over his head, it’s his nervous habit.
“What’s wrong Shawn?” I can tell there’s something else, it’s not just this guy smelling and looking familiar.
“There’s another body.”