“Mari, please,” I whined, leaning against the wall next to our front door as Mari locked it. “It’s five-thirty, can’t you at least set me out around a normal time.”
“I told you,” she said, pocketing her keys. “Today is an important day, okay? You need to find that guy, I’m not wasting any time.”
“He is probably still asleep, like any other normal person.” I shoved my hands in my pockets while burying my head deeper into my scarf.
“I’ll see you later,” Mari said as she headed for the elevator.
“Aren’t you going to tell me what time I should expect you home?” Knowing her, she probably wouldn’t rush home right after work. She liked torturing me, even admitting to it twice.
“Nope, bye sis, love you!” she called right as the elevator doors closed. I groaned in annoyance, wondering if I should just wait on her right there. At least it was warm here. Though, my stomach started to grumble and I was reminded that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Even this early in the morning, I was hungry. Well, I was basically always hungry. At some point an emptiness had invaded my body, constantly pleading for something, and so far my only solution had been food. Sadly enough, it was temporarily.
Sighing deeply, I wrapped my arms around myself in an attempt to keep as much warmth with me as I ventured down the stairs. I regretted ever getting out of bed when I opened the door to the outside world. Harsh, freezing wind hit my skin, sending chills down every inch of my body. Today was going to be far from fun.
The wind wasn’t as harsh anymore when I entered the park. It was a shortcut to my favorite coffee shop. It was a self-serving shop with meant no human interaction needed. I didn’t have to strain myself for breakfast there.
While walking I noticed a figure sitting under one of the trees. He had laid out a blanket to sit on with a few others covering him. Most of his face was covered by his scarf and beanie. He was also holding a guitar, peacefully plucking the strings in a soft melody. Strange place to practice music, especially in this weather and this early in the morning. But who was I to judge? Perhaps he was set out just like I was.
I quickened my pace, wanting to get back inside the warmth of a shop soon.
“Hey Darling, shall I play a song for you?”
I sighed, knowing I wasn’t the one he was calling. Lucky girl, whoever she was. It must be nice to have someone play a song for you personally. It were those simple things that were the hardest at times. If only-
“Wait,” the voice from before said as a hand pulled me back by my shoulder, spinning me around. “Didn’t you hear me?”
He tugged down his scarf and my eyes widened. He was the Shawn guy, the one who’s song I had been listening to all night. I should have recognized his voice, how stupid of me. But… wait.
“You can see me?” I whispered, my hands starting to shake, though not from the cold.
“You didn’t- you didn’t react,” he said, seemingly just as baffled as I was. What about I wasn’t quite sure.
I couldn’t look away. His eyes. They held me in place, keeping me from saying anything. They were looking at me. Right at me. Not through me, not beside me, right at me. He really did see me. I didn’t hear him wrong.
A laugh escaped my throat before I could stop it, immense joy warming my body. I wanted to jump, to scream, to hug him. “I wasn’t mistaken, you really can see me.”
Slowly, a grin spread across his own face. “Why wouldn’t I be able to see you?”
“I’m cursed,” I blurt out, covering my mouth before I said something else stupid. Swallowing, I choose my next words carefully. “It’s a bit of a long story, the short version is that no one really notices me.”
“Really?” He raised his brow. “Sounds like you got the opposite of my problem.”
“What?” Lowering my hands, I furrowed my brow.
“Let’s get somewhere warm first,” he said, glancing around. “You know a nice place nearby?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I was heading there just now.”
“Nice, let’s go there, just give me a second, Darling.” He turned and headed back to the tree he had been under. Unconsciously I reached out, only catching myself right before I grabbed his sleeve. There was no reason to be scared. He was me, he should remember me, just like Mari and my parents. Still, I kept my eyes on him, not daring to blink. I was one step closer to an answer.
After gathering his stuff her jogged back to me. I couldn’t help but be relieved when he shot me a smile. “Lead the way, miss…?”
“Darcey Chenceller,” I said, smiling. “You’re Shawn Clifton, right?”
His eyes seemed to soften as he nodded. “That’s right, you’ve heard of me?”
“Only since yesterday.” I forced myself to look down. “When my sister and I were talking to your friend, and later when you appeared on tv.”
Shawn chuckled. “That was my manager, he was so pissed.”
“My sister tried to get him to drink with me,” I said, joining Shawn when he laughed again. “It was a long shot, though, it never works out.”
“Why is that?” he asked, sounding a bit more serious and curious.
I shrugged, rubbing my hands together. “Like I said, no one sees me, nor do they remember me.”
“And your sister?”
“She is family, that why she does see me.” I looked back up at Shawn, surprised to see he was watching me closely. “Perhaps we’re related in some way, too.”
He shook his head determent. “No, definitely not.”
“How can you be so sure?” I stopped right before the coffee shop, tilting my head at him confused.
He took my hand, bowing down to meet my gaze. “Because I simply don’t want it, Darling Darcey.”
I hid my face in my scarf as heat started to rise. Shawn smirked, opening the door to the shop for me. I quickly entered and went to sit at the booth I usually sat. Because it was still early there was no one but us, which was a relief. I wasn’t too keep on people joining me simply because they thought the booth had been free.
Shawn set down in front of me. I started to get rid of all the unnecessary layers of clothing, the warmth of the shop welcoming me. Shawn did the same, all the while watching me. I wondered why. Theoretically, I should be the one watching his every move, but I knew how to control myself. Even if I wanted to grab hold of him and never let go.
“Now, tell me your story,” I said, breaking the silence before it became too awkward.
He finally looked away, leaning back in his seat. “Well, for one, I know what you mean by not being seen, even if my ‘curse’ as you called it, might be different.”
I sat back, my hunger completely forgotten. “Oh?”
“Ever since I was little I always got the attention I wanted,” he started, his index finger ticking on the table as he talked. “I never had trouble making friends or getting what I asked for. Though, as I got older I noticed how people acted differently around me then they did around each other. When they looked at me they seemed to not see me or something, and at first I thought that was normal until I learned that it wasn’t.”
“So, you say your curse is attention?”
He shrugged. “I guess.”
I shook my head. “Sounds more like a blessing to me.”
“Believe me, it’s not,” Shawn scoffed. “I’d trade your oblivion for my attention any day.”
“Then you don’t seem to understand it,” I said, my voice coming out sharper then I meant. How could he say something like that, though? It sounded like he didn’t hear I word I said before. “People literally don’t see me, they walk right into me and just keep on walking while wondering what happened.”
“Sounds heavenly to me,” he sighed, squeezing the bridge of his nose. “I mean, would you rather have people you don’t know walk up to you for no real reason other than ‘We felt like talking to you’ or ‘You’re so handsome, we had to talk to you,’ while knowing none of what they’re saying is genuine?”
“Are you serious right now?” I blinked at him.
“I am,” he said, leaning forward on the table. “Anyways-“
“Don’t change the subject,” I interrupted. This wasn’t at all what I expected. I wasn’t sure what I did expect, but it was anything other than this ass. “How could you say that? You have no idea what I’m going through.”
His gaze hardened. “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know everything was about how miserable you are. I’m sorry, should I have thought of your feelings before I opened my mouth?”
I stood, slamming my hands on the table. “I have not spend twenty-two years of my life in loneliness only to have my pain dismissed as nothing by some guy who gets everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
He waved his hand. “Now you’re just assuming things.”
I took a deep breath, my heart pounding painfully in my throat. I didn’t want to be here. My previous joy was far out of my reach as my constant agony and doubt filled my head with lies. What was I even saying?
I took my coat and left the coffee shop, not putting it on until I was at least two blocks away. Tears started to fall and I couldn’t stop them. Why did I become so angry? He didn’t say anything wrong, he was just vending. He wasn’t attacking me personally, he simply spoke his mind, which was very brave of him since we only just officially met.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid.” I pressed the palms of my hands against my eyes. This was the first time I ever had a conversation with anyone other than a family member and I blew it. Shawn probably never want to speak to me again. I wouldn’t blame him. Sometimes even I get tired of myself. I wouldn’t be friends with someone like me either.
A long breath passed my lips. Right, what even was I getting upset about? I had given up a long time ago. I was only here because Mari locked me out. I never actually wanted to find the guy. I knew this would happen, I knew finding him wouldn’t magically fix everything.
My feet started to move again, one step after the other through the untouched blanket of white. There was no point in staying out here now that I found the guy. I could wait for Mari in front of our apartment. No one would notice, no one would care.
I wasn’t hungry, just tired.