Sunday Afternoon 2:00
She comes to get her coffee before she heads to the gallery every day. She walks to the counter and orders a caramel macchiato and two blueberry croissants.
Lynn smiles big and her brown eyes linger on Bethany a little too long as she takes her card.
Bethany takes her brunch fifteen minutes later and leaves a twenty dollar tip. Everyday she gets the same $7.57 order and tips twenty dollars.
On her way out the door she smiles at me. One of her big smiles that reaches her golden brown eyes and shows her dimples. Every day on her way out the door she smiles and waves.
Part of me hopes she remembers me. Some where in that city girl head of hers there is a small space made for Daisy Capree from senior year and band camp.
I smile into my book and don’t acknowledge her. I never acknowledge her.
She quickly crosses the street to her gallery. People travel from everywhere to see her works and commission pieces for their lake homes.
Bethany Freyrea is one of the greatest artist of our generation. Looking at her work makes people feeling something, more than they feel in their boring day trader lives.
She’s so much more than just the artist who spends to much time locked in her workspace , staring at blank canvases, she’s kind, friendly, and beautiful. Oh so beautiful and I, am basically stalking her.
I didn’t mean to. It just happened. This coffee shop is my place, it’s been that way for three years. I went to that gallery before I knew it was hers, I’ve always loved art and something about hers pulled me in.
After I saw her, I couldn’t stop watching, never following. I watch her get her coffee then go to work. I watch her talk to potential buyers until seven then go home. I have no idea where she lives because I just watch, which is basically not stalking.
I sit in the same seat in this coffee shop and watch. I buy at least two items every hour so I’m not just taking up space, I read my book and occasionally look over to watch her and learn.
I’ve learned that she bites her lip when she’s angry, she paces when she’s happy, she tugs at her dark brown; almost black hair and when she’s nervous and she cries when she’s excited.
Today she is wearing a yellow sun dress that stops above her knees and black kitty heels that complement the necklace around her neck, hair pulled back in a messy bun. It’s a high meeting day, she always does stuff buns when she has to meet a lot of new people.
She’s biting her lip at her computer so she’s not too excited about the meetings she has today.
Sunday Afternoon 2:15
Five new people have walked into the gallery in the past fifteen minutes. Beth, I sometimes call her Beth, has made it a point to talk to every one of them.
Some commission art pieces, I know by the way her eyes light up, she tucks lose strands of hair behind her ear and tries to hide her smile. They ask for things that get her mind spinning and that lights her up.
One request a painting she refuses to sell. She told New York Times that it was her mother’s favorite so she always keeps it on display but refuses to let anyone else have it. Which means every rich man this side of the Mississippi want to throw money at her to see if she’ll budge.
She took her hair down after the second person came to speak with her, allowing her stress to peek through. She hates dealing with customers, she enjoys creating much more.
Sunday Afternoon 4:15
Fredrick Tyau buys sushi for lunch. Bethany tries to pay him back but he refused as he typically does.
He obviously has a crush on her. I could recognize that look in his eyes from the moon. The way he tries and fails to take his eyes off her every move. The tired way he laughs at everything she says even when she hasn’t made a joke. Those are the symptoms of being hopelessly lovesick.
Bethany would never date him though, not that he isn’t a good looking guy and seems to genuinely care about her. His only problem is that he is a guy.
Bethany has only ever dated other artists who she can capture in beautifully rare moments. They always end up leaving her when they find out she isn’t going to help propel their careers or she gets bored. This is not a thing I know but something I’ve concocted for the benefit of the fantasy in my head.
She lost the shoes five minutes ago, they’re cute but uncomfortable. As the day goes on she loses other pieces of her look perfectly put together outfit. She tries to be the chic artist but she’s a girl of comfort first.
The band that was holding her hair up is in her bag, her glasses are in the second draw, left side of her desk and her shoes are in a corner. Her head is in her hands and she has her nose scrunched in that way, that way that makes my heart jump.
Freddy is trying to convince her to sell her mother’s painting, again. He does it once a week, coming with a higher offer than the previous week. Bethany declines and he bitches for the rest of the day.
Sunday Evening 6:00
The sun has started to go down. Her hair is a darker in the mixed hues of purple and pinks as the sun descends. Her light grey eyes have turned a darker shade and her glasses and shoes have made a reappearance.
The gallery crowd is bigger, people are swarming the building trying to get one last look before close. Fred and Bethany divide and conquer the crowd. They are both very well versed in entertaining potential buyers and keeping onlookers who would or could never buy amused.
She’s grown nervous since the crowd arrived. She’s been pulling at her hair for the past hour. She stares at the clock every two minutes.
More people come inquiring about her mother’s painting and she kiddy steers them elsewhere. She leads people far away from her mothers painting when they start to ask too many questions, she hides her anger while but not too well.
She’s been thinking about having it removed from display. She loves seeing it every day but hates having to constantly debate with people over it’s worth.
I can see the stress written all of her face. The way she can never really smile, the thinning of her once luscious hair, it’s obvious. Not obvious enough anyone else has noticed.
Sunday Evening 7:00
The gallery is closed and Bethany is on her way home. She has to check the lights and security system twice before she can leave. She’s meticulous like that.
The new girl, I think her name is Jess, is closing the coffee shop tonight and she’s wiping down tables. She walks over to me and ask if I need anything else. The shop doesn’t close until eight but everyone in this sleepy town is typically home by now, definitely not buying coffee.
“I’m heading up in a few.” She smiles at me and continues cleaning. One perk of living above this place is I’m cool with all the workers and I never have to leave, it’s also a perk of being the boss and owning the building.
“You’re watching me,” the subtle, quiet voice laced with a little bit of southern pulls me from my thoughts.
I see a tired Bethany Freyrea sitting across from me. She has her bag on the floor by her feet and her laptop on the table next to my book.
Words gets stuck in my throat. I’ve never been good at talking to people. My job doesn’t involve me going into the office more than twice a month, I live in the building I own so I never have to speak with landlords and I go to the same places I always have, never running into new people, never having new conversations.
Words are lost on me now. I have a Masters in English literature a Bachelors in Linguistics and my Doctorate in Communication and Technology but words fail me now when I need them most.
“Why?” She doesn’t sound angry, why doesn’t she sound angry?
I open my mouth to say something and nothing comes out. I can feel my hands starting to shake, my eyes can’t seem to stay in one spot and my heart is beating so fast I think it might burst.
“Say something,” she snaps.
“Do you remember me, is that it?” She asks after I still haven’t said anything.
“You should remember me, I remember you, I remember you were late to graduation and didn’t want to walk the stage, I remember it was like pulling teeth getting you to say anything.” She continues speaking when I don’t do my part of the conversation.
“You sit here everyday and watch me work, all day,” she informs me of my daily activities. “When I leave you don’t follow me, so that’s good, you aren’t a crazy stalker.”
“So tell me.”
“Band camp, ’07” That’s all I can manage to say.
“I remember, I thought you forgot.” Of course she did.
“I’m sorry.” I finally find my voice and all I can do is apologize. I knew I was wrong watching her all day for the last six months. I knew it wouldn’t end well and I should stop, but every time I tried I got sucked back in.
“What do you want?”
That’s a good question, a great question. I haven’t seen her in ten years and instead of talking to her I decide to watch her. But I don’t know what I want, I’ve never known what I want.
“I don’t,” she cuts me off with a swift move of her hand.
“Meet me at my gallery tomorrow at 7:00AM.” She gathers her stuff and leaves me stunned.
My mind goes haywire with the thought of having to speak to her again. Next time I’ll actually have to make complete sentences.